Confluence: Environmental History and Science & Technology Studies. Fall 2008, by Sara Pritchard, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. This course uses water to examine the confluence of two fields: environmental history and the social and historical studies of science and technology (STS). Although preliminary scholarship has begun to demonstrate the fruitful integration of these fields, a number of methodological and theoretical tensions remain. Some of these tensions include the social construction of “nature;” nature as a historical actor or agent; accounts of the emergence of “environmental” “problems;” constructivist models of science and technology; and scholars’ use of scientific and technical sources to assess environmental change. This class therefore examines a number of scholarly debates about key terms, definitions, and categories (both historical actors’ and analysts’), knowledge-making about “nature” and human interactions with non-human nature, and the concept of agency.
History of Environment and Technology. Fall 2005, by Edmund Russell, Department of History/Department of Science, Technology, and Society, University of Virginia. To a lay person, it would seem obvious that technology and environmental change have had intertwined history. Leave it to scholars, though, to come up with a more difficult way of going at history. Two fields with separate histories developed to study each topic, and only recently have many scholars focused on the junction between the two. Environmental history developed out of Western American history (where the impact of the environment on human history is especially clear), while the history of technology developed out of the history of science. Both have developed interests well afield from their parents. A few scholars have participated in both fields for many years, but only recently has the number become large enough to merit review articles and an organization. Envirotech is an interest group within the Society for the History of Technology; it meets at conferences of the American Society for Environmental History as well as Society for the History of Technology meetings.
Urban Environmental History: The City and Nature in Historical Perspective, with special emphasis on New Orleans. Spring 2008, by Amahia Mallea, Department of History, Drake University. From geologic time to the present, the physical world has played a role in the history of cities, nations and the world. This course introduces the ways that the environment has been influential in shaping past human experience, as well as how humans have in turn shaped the environment. Themes include the interconnectedness of people and nature, health (ecological and social health is an environmental issue), and the link between local and global. The course balances the physical (rocks, conservation and ecology) and the cultural (ideas, perceptions and images) environment.
History of Technology, Environment, and Health: Theory and Method. Graduate Seminar Syllabus, Fall 2006, by Stephen Pemberton, Assistant Professor, Federated Department of History, New Jersey Institute of Technology / Rutgers University, Newark. This course provides an introduction to the histories of technology, environment, health and medicine while examining some of the diverse strategies that historians in these fields are currently using to make sense of the past. We will explore what is distinctive about these fields of history, as well as what it means to engage in the historical study of technology, health, medicine, science, and the environment. How, for example, do historians of technology, environment, and health interpret society, culture, and politics?
What assumptions and approaches do they share with the social historian, the cultural historian, the political historian, or the student of global history? How, for instance, do historians of technology, environment, and health treat matters of class, race, and gender? And how have these historians employed the theories and methods of other scholarly disciplines in their work, including the insights of anthropologists, biologists,
philosophers, political activists, and sociologists. As these questions suggest, the principle goal of the course is to introduce the student of history to some of the vital ideas, scholarly trends, and methods that inform our efforts to gain historical perspective on matters of technology, environment, and/or health.