HIST 3991

Environmental History

3.0 Credits


This is an online seminar course that examines the reciprocal relations between humans and non-human nature through a historiographic perspective. The course addresses the changing impact of human populations, their technology and their ideas on the physical environment, as well as how climate, topography, plants and animals have enabled, constrained, and altered the path of human societies. The course emphasizes the North American context.

Delivery Methods

Web, self-paced


60 credits


After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the field of environmental history.
  • Discuss significant themes in environmental history.
  • Explain how historical events have been influenced by the natural environment.
  • Explain how human activity has altered the natural environment over time.
  • Critically read, analyze, and respond in writing to selected primary literature in the field of environmental history.
  • Effectively communicate in writing and in online discussions critical analyses and evaluations of the environmental history literature.

Course Outline

  • Unit 1
    • Topic 1: Introduction to Environmental History
    • Topic 2: Indigenous Environmental Change
    • Topic 3: Ecological Imperialism
  • Unit 2
    • Topic 1: Resettlement
    • Topic 2: Commodifying Natural Resources--The Fur Trade
    • Topic 3: Agricultural Development--Technology and Power
  • Unit 3
    • Topic 1: The Conservation Movement
    • Topic 2: The Moral Ecology of Parks
    • Topic 3: Urban Nature
  • Unit 4
    • Topic 1: Consuming Nature--Energy and Consumption
    • Topic 2: The Modern Environmental Movement
    • Topic 3: Seeing Global Warming

Course Duration

30 weeks

Required Text and Materials

Students enrolling in this course will need to source the following textbook on their own:

Steinberg, Ted. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press 2013
ISBN: 978-0-19-979739-4
Type: Textbook

Details of the various online resources are listed in the course lessons. You will be expected to access TRU Library online resources, including journal articles and e-books.

Additional Requirements

Computer with Internet and Quick Time (version 5 or later), is required for this web-based course. Refer to pages 104-105 or the TRU-OL website.

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through Blackboard’s “Mail” tool or by phone. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.


In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory research essay project and 50% overall. It is recommended that you complete all assignments to achieve the learning outcomes of the course. The total mark will be determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 12%
Assignment 2 12%
Assignment 3 12%
Assignment 4 12%
Online Discussions 12%
Research Essay Project * 40%