Spring 2019 - HIST 132 D100

Global Environmental History (3)

Class Number: 3802

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Tue, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 13, 2019
    Sat, 8:30–11:30 a.m.



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.


Environmental history examines the reciprocal relationships between humans and the non-human world in the past. It brings nature into the study of history, and human culture into the study of nature. This course examines the long history of human-environmental relations from the Ice Age (Pleistocene) to the current melting of polar ice caps—including several "climate changes" in between. The course links case studies from around the world to big processes happening across continents, oceans, and millennia. This course will ask you to think critically about historical events on the very largest of scales (the interstellar), the very smallest of scales (the microbial), and everything in between. You will also think about the many ways that the environment—including plants, animals, germs, climate, and topography—have shaped human history, and vice versa. Major topics will include: Fire; Mosquitos; Atoms; Rice; Guano; Tigers; the 99-cent Cheeseburger; and Outer Space. Students will complete a global environmental historical “autobiography" that situates each student's personal history within the larger forces explored in the class.


  • Participation 20%
  • Midterm 25%
  • Global environmental historical autobiography 30%
  • Final Exam 25%



There are no required textbooks. Readings will be made available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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