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Course Descriptions: Fall 2013 - HTY 577: Readings in Environmental History

Instructor:  Richard Judd

Time:  Wednesday, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Description:  This course is designed for history graduate students, undergraduate majors, and others with an interest in the relation between human society and the natural environment.  We will begin with the philosophy and methodology of environmental history, move on to Native peoples and the colonial environment, and then follow the line of frontier development westward to the point at which the frontier “disappears” at the 1890 Census.  From there, we will survey the Progressive conservation movement and the more recent environmental era.  Finally, we will discuss trends in modern environmental thought and action.

Weekly reading assignments will consist of a book (or equivalent chapters)  in common, coupled with individual assignments (book chapters or articles) tailored to each participants’ particular interests as they arise in the seminar.  To begin each session, each participant will read a short prepared statement (1-2 paragraphs) about the common readings, pertaining to the methodology, basic themes and arguments in the text, the evidence, and the intent or the contribution the book makes to knowledge on the topic.  This should offer a personal assessment of the readings: Why did you like or dislike about the book?  Is it convincing?  Did the conclusions account for the range of evidence?  Was the problem defined properly?

Since the reading load is heavy, writing assignments are minimal.  In addition to the opening statements each week, participants will prepare a brief (no more than one page) synopsis of the article/chapter(s) s/he read apart from the common readings and make copies available to others through the First Class folder.  Participants should, of course, take notes on the common readings in whatever fashion s/he finds expeditious.


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