Humans have profoundly altered the character of Earth's environment since the advent of agriculture and settled societies some 10,000 years ago. This course is a study of the historical relationship between human beings and their habitats, with additional attention to arid lands as places of settlement, cultivation, and development. We explore how global problems such as climate change, biodiversity attenuation, and depletion of fossil soils, fuels, and water are linked to social problems such as economic inequality, food insecurity, conflict, and declining public health. The course reviews evidence of major environmental problems; considers how varied academic disciplines address them; and models a historical approach to understanding environmental change.
In Fall 2020, the course will be organized around the interpretation of digitized primary sources, including online meetings, group work, and tutorials. On-campus students will participate in small-group discussions.