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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HIST 3991: Environmental History

This course 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. A North American context is emphasized.

Learning outcomes

  • 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 topics

  • Unit 1
    • Topic 1: Introduction to Environmental History
    • Topic 2: Indigenous Environmental Change
    • Topic 3: Ecological Imperialism
  • Unit 2
    • Topic 1: Colonization
    • Topic 2: The Fur Trade: Commodification and Indigenous Labour
    • Topic 3: Agricultural Development
  • Unit 3
    • Topic 1: The Conservation Movement
    • Topic 2: The Parks Movement
    • Topic 3: Urbanization
  • Unit 4
    • Topic 1: Modernity, Energy, and Consumption
    • Topic 2: The Environmental Movement
    • Topic 3: Climate Change

Required text and materials

The following textbooks or materials are required for this course:

Steinberg, T. (2018). Down to earth: Nature’s role in American history (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Type: Textbook. ISBN: 9780190864422


To complete this course successfully, you must obtain a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory Final Project.

Assessment 1: Exercises 20%
Assessment 2: Reading Notes 20%
Assessment 3: Historiography Assignment 20%
Assessment 4: Research Essay Proposal 5%
Final Project (mandatory) 35%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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