Spring 2018 - HIST 132 D100

Global Environmental History (3)

Class Number: 3290

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    EDB 7618, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 20, 2018
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    SWH 10041, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Joseph Taylor
    1 778 782-4400
    Office: AQ #6012



A planetary-scale introduction to reciprocal human-environment interactions from the discovery of fire to the present day. Case studies focus on humans and non-human actors in specific locales, and their movement across continents and oceans. Themes include climate, energy regimes, disease, science and technology, agriculture, subsistence, and landscape change. Breadth-Hum/Social Sci/Science.


We have told stories about nature since before we had words. Our species’ defining trait is its intense and sustained effort to defeat, harness, nurture, and worship nature. We leveled forests, bloomed deserts, stoppered seas, and changed climate. This course traces that thirteen-thousand-year global history as a general interest introduction to the field of environmental history. It will illustrate the reciprocal relationships between culture and ecology at the planetary scale through lectures and readings that weave seven narrative threads: food, energy, settlement, population, disease, climate, and veneration. Students will learn to identify how societies and nature have reciprocally shaped each other across time and space, and to interpret how each environmental thread has been intrinsically linked to other threads in context-dependent ways. Tales about food were inherently also about population and settlement, and energy, disease, and climate were often implicated as well. This course begins with the retreat of ice sheets and rise of agriculture. By 13000 years ago humans were gathering into permanent settlements alongside domesticated animals. Populations grew in ways that pressured resources and enabled pathogenic vectors. People altered local ecologies and planetary climate many millennia ago, and the social and ecological feedback loops have only accelerated across time. Read, listen, and learn just how old the Anthropocene is, and how complex our environmental relationships have been.


  • Midterm 25%
  • Paper 25%
  • Final 25%
  • Participation 25%



No required textbook. Scholarly articles and primary documents available online.

Registrar Notes:

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