Global Environmental History from the Paleolithic to the Present
Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
What is the environment and when did it come to be? Is the environment different from nature? If so how? If not, why not? These days, perhaps, we think of the environment as something that we inhabit, shape, experience, destroy. This course explores the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world from early history to the present. We will consider the various ways humans across the globe have interacted with and modified the natural world by using fire, domesticating plants and animals, extracting minerals and energy, designing petro-chemicals, splitting atoms and leaving behind wastes of all sorts. Together we consider the impacts, ranging from population expansion to species extinctions and climate change. We examine how human interactions with the natural world relate to broader cultural processes such as religion, colonialism and capitalism, and why it is important to understand the past, even the deep past, in order to rise to the challenges of the present.