This course is an introduction to the field of environmental history. What can our environment tell us about our past? How have natural resources shaped patterns of human life in different regions of the world? What meanings have people attached to nature and how have those attitudes shaped their cultural and political lives? We will analyze the ecological context of human existence, with the understanding that the environment is an agent and a presence in human history.
This course explores the histories of several “natural disasters” to discover how humans have understood and responded to environmental events beyond their control. The course begins with a conceptual conversation about the relationship between environment and society within the context of disaster, and then proceeds to explore the stories of several events -- such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires. We will also consider how disasters are woven into the historical memories of various societies and used as reference points to understand both the past and the future.
Major Requirement: Global/Comparative History
This course is designed as an introduction to historical awareness, historical thinking, and historical methodology. Our objective is to understand how the history of the Border (the border separating the United States and Mexico) has shaped political, economic, historic and cultural realities, for centuries, at a place that’s neither fixed nor clear. Students will study primary documents, read essays/literary accounts, and view films to arrive at a more complete understanding of the history, tragedy and possibility of the border.