History, Geography and Environmental Studies 460
American Environmental History
Environmental history, a relatively new field, studies the changing relationship between human beings and the natural world through time. Despite being numbered at the 400-level, this course is intended as an introduction to this exciting new field of scholarship, with no prerequisites. It assumes no background in American history, geography, or environmental studies, and offers a general survey that can be valuable for students interested in any of these fields, from entry-level undergraduates through graduate students. Although the course is intended to be challenging, it is also meant to be fun: any student willing to attend lectures, do the readings, and work hard should be able to enjoy and do well in it. Our central premise throughout will be that much of the familiar terrain of American history looks very different when seen in an environmental context, and that one can learn a great deal about history, geography, and the environment by studying them together. All too often, historians study the human past without attending to nature. All too often, scientists study nature without attending to human history. We will try to discover the value of integrating these different perspectives, and argue that the humanistic perspectives of historians and geographers are absolutely crucial if one hopes to understand contemporary environmental issues.
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PDF: (optimized for printing):(see is an old version from 2013 and will be revised in January 2015)
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Please note that for all handouts listed below, the HTML version is more attractive for onscreen viewing, complete with a relevant banner illustration on top, whereas the PDF version is much more densely packed and is designed to be printable on a single sheet of paper. These handouts typically become available at least a few days before a lecture is delivered, though occasionally they may get revised very close to the time of the actual lecture.
Place Paper Assignment
Place Paper assignment described:
Click here for a collection of past student papers written to fulfill the final "place paper" assignment in 460.
Kelly Roark's Tips for Successful Place Papers
This handout was prepared by TA Kelly Roark to help students in her discussion sections in 2005, and I've decided to make it available again.
Essay: William Cronon, "Kennecott Journey: The Paths out of Town," in Wiliam Cronon, George Miles, Jay Gitlin, eds., Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America's Western Past (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1992), 28-51.
Sample Midterm Exam Essay Questions, Fall 2013
Sample Answer to Question #2
Sample Answer to Question #3
Sample Answer to Question #4
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