Tech and Environment

Spring 2020
Germán Vergara
HTS 3081

This course examines global environmental history from prehistory to the present. We will explore major themes in environmental history, including the extent to which humans are part of nature; the roles that the natural world has played in shaping human history; the relationship between technological and environmental change; the increasingly rapid and pervasive changes that humans have made to the global environment; the possibility that humans have become the major force shaping global biogeochemical processes; and the myriad ways in which human societies have understood, represented, and thought about the natural world. To fully understand this history, the course takes an interdisciplinary approach, using insights from historians, archaeologists, geographers, and evolutionary, environmental, and climate scientists. The course is organized around three questions: a) How have different societies around the world understood, shaped, and transformed the environment? b) What key factors have shaped global environmental history in the past? c) What are the major periods in global environmental history and what characterized them?

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