Environmental History

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
HIST 1195
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
Environmental History is a survey of interactions between humans and the natural environment from the time of early homo sapiens to the present day. The course explores how humans have shaped the natural world around them and how it has shaped them. Beginning with the relationships with the environment and early human organizations, the course examines, amongst other topics, the agricultural revolution, the Columbian exchange and European imperialism, the impact of fossil fuels, urbanization, disease, and climate change. Special attention will be given to local environmental history, Indigenous worldviews and histories, and the emergence of environmental movements.
Course Content
  1. Introduction
  2. Climate Change in History
  3. Nomadic Interactions
  4. Revolutions in Agriculture 
  5. Plagues and Pathogens
  6. The Columbian Exchange 
  7. Conquering Nature 
  8. Urbanization
  9. Fossil Fuels 
  10. Conflict, Consumption, and Politics
  11. The Development Paradigm  
  12. Indigenous Understandings
  13. Environmental Movements
  14. Wilderness (Re)Imagined?

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

Learning Activities

Classroom instruction will include both lectures and seminar discussions. Lectures will provide instruction on weekly topics with opportunities for student inquiry and discussion. Seminars will encourage active class participation in the analysis of assigned primary and secondary readings. Classroom instruction may also include student presentations on specific readings and/or topics, and other types of student-led activities. Classroom instruction may also include tutorials and workshops on transferrable skills, including research methods, academic citation practice, and presentation skills.

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy.

Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of midterm and final exams; research essays; primary document analysis assignments and essays; quizzes; map tests; in-class and online written assignments; seminar presentations; student assignment portfolios; group projects; creative projects; class participation.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

  • Participation, In-Class Work: 10%
  • Seminar Presentation: 10%
  • Primary Document Analyses: 15%
  • Reading Notes / Reading Journals: 15%
  • Research Essay or Research Project: 15%
  • Midterm Exam: 15%
  • Final Exam: 20%
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:

  1. locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).
  2. constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history).
  3. participating in active and informed historical debate independently and cooperatively through classroom discussion and presentation (discussing history).
  4. independently and cooperatively investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history).
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Course Readers will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically:

An instructor’s custom Course Reader may be required. Additional online resources may also be assigned.


Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003.

Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground: Re-thinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1996.

Cushman, Gregory T. Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Dowie, Mark. Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples. Boston: The MIT Press, 2011. 

Dowie, Mark. The Haida Gwaii Lesson: A Strategic Playbook for Indigenous Sovereignty. Inkshares, 2017

Elmore, Bartlow J. Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism. New York: W.W. Norton Company, 2016.

Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. 

Ghosh, Amitav. The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021. 

Gilio-Whitaker. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock. Boston: Beacon Press, 2020. 

Guha Ramachandra. Environmentalism: A Global History. London: Pearson, 1999. 

Hughes, Douglas. An Environmental History of the World: Humanity’s Changing Role in the Community of Life.Mississauga: Routledge, 2009.  

Loo, Tina. States of Nature: Conserving Canada’s Wildlife in the Twentieth Century. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007.

MacDowell, Laura Sefton. An Environmental History of Canada. Vancouver/Toronto: University of British Columbia Press, 2012.

McNeill, J.R., and Peter Engelke. The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016.

McNeill, J. R., John Robert McNeill, and Paul Kennedy. Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World. W. W. Norton & Company, 2001.

Pascoe, Bruce. Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? Broome, Western Australia: Magabala Books, 2014. 

Radkau, Joachim. Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment. Cambridge: CUP, 2008 

Richards, John F. The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World. Berkley: University of California Press, 2003.

Shapiro, Judith. Mao’s War against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Spense, Mark David. Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.  

Suzuki, David. The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2007. 

Zimring, Carl A. Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States. New York: University of New York Press, 2015.

Sourcebooks and Readers: 

Isenberg, Andrew C. ed., The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.



No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HIST 1195
Acsenda School of Management (ASM) ASM GEN 1XX (3)
College of New Caledonia (CNC) CNC HIST 1XX (3)
Emily Carr University of Art & Design (EC) EC CRST 100 (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU HIST 1XXX (3)
Northern Lights College (NLC) NLC HIST 2XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU HIST 1XXX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW HIST 3XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO HIST 106 (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 360 (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023

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