Fall 2023 - HIST 432 D100

Problems in Environmental History (4)

Winter is Coming: Cdn Enviro Hist in the 21st C

Class Number: 3579

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Fri, 12:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



An investigation into the major themes and arguments in the environmental histories of North America, emphasizing how different individuals and groups have used, perceived, and managed their environments over time. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 432 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Students with credit for GEOG 432 may take HIST 432 for credit only when a different topic is taught.




Canadian Environmental History in the 21st Century

This iteration of HIST/GEOG 432 takes the pulse of Canadian environmental history in the early twenty-first century. This is an interdisciplinary, highly digital, and increasingly diverse field of historical scholarship with significant transnational and international ties and influences. We’ll explore key topics and issues in environmental history (EH) as it has been written, thought about, and practiced recently in Canada, and as it is being envisioned or imagined for the future. Active practitioners in this field may join us some weeks via Zoom to enhance our conversations.

We’ll begin by examining the intellectual architecture of this field, or how the environmental history of Canada has been told since 2000, by looking at textbooks and edited collections. We’ll then turn to some of the topics that have attracted scholarly attention lately. Subject to student interest, these may include energy; climate; disease; toxins; animals/nonhumans; environmental histories that centre 2SLGBTQ+ people, Black people, people of colour, or disabled people; and the intersections between Indigenous history and environmental history in Canada. I’m excited to introduce you to some of the freshest and most exciting thinking on these topics.

I’m also excited to introduce you to the substantial amount of free, public-facing scholarship on Canadian environmental history online. You’ll be able to engage with a segment of this scholarship that interests you in the first assignment.

Finally, I’m excited to bring you into the conversations that historical practitioners in Canada and beyond are having around how environmental history gets written, and by whom. This field has historically been dominated by cis, straight, able-bodied white American men (and, more recently, women). We’ll examine how a new generation of scholars is pushing the field to diversify how this subject is researched and taught, what changes they’ve been able to bring about so far, and what risks this work poses, especially when conducted online.

This course is designed to complement GEOG/HIST 377, which I am also teaching in fall 2023. 377 focuses on the environmental history of Canada—that is, it uses historical case studies to analyze reciprocal relationships between humans and the non-human world in what is presently Canada. 432 scrutinizes the field of Canadian environmental history. It considers what topics, voices, and debates have shaped research and teaching about this subject in 21st-century Canada, and what these might tell us about this community of practitioners and body of scholarship as a whole. 377 is not a prerequisite to 432. You can take both courses simultaneously and get two totally different perspectives on environmental history in Canada.



  • Participation 20%
  • Digital EH essay 20%
  • Digital EH presentation 10%
  • Annotated bibliography 15%
  • “You-be-the-judge” paper 35%


Modes and weightings of evaluation are subject to change between now and the beginning of the fall semester



Readings will be available on Canvas, on the Library website, or online.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.