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Course Descriptions: Spring 2014 - HTY 599: Readings in Global Environmental History

Instructor:  Tina Adcock

Time:  Tuesday; 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Description:  This course will give student a selective introduction to the rapidly expanding literature in environmental history that deals primarily with countries and regions other than the United States.  Of course, the very word “global” is ambiguous, and can be variously interpreted.  Together, we will explore its valences – non-American/non-Western, comparative/transnational, and extra-human, to name a few – as they pertain to the study of the relationship between humans and physical environments at different times and places on Earth.

Students with no background or specialization in environmental history are very welcome.  Indeed, the questions, methodologies, and approaches of environmental history can yield fresh perspectives on issues fundamental to our discipline.  To that end, the course is structured around three key issues that engage all practitioners of history:  scale, agency, and boundaries.  Questions we might explore include: who or what counts as a historical agent?  How are natural and cultural boundaries created and elided?  What are the advantages and disadvantages to pursuing historical inquiries at scales other than the individual or national?  In addition to considering such broad questions, students will have the opportunity to select a topic of thematic relevance to their own research interests, and to explore the global environmental historical literature on that topic.

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