Are you teaching a course on environmental history and the history of technology? Or have you taught a course like this in the past? Please get in touch with our Envirotech Communications Fellow Katrin Kleemann if you would like to share the course description and a copy of the syllabus with the wider Envirotech community on this website.

Technology, Environment and Medicine in The Americas, 1500-1900. Spring 2021, by Rosanna Dent, Federated History Department, New Jersey Institute of Technology – Rutgers University, Newark. Syllabus (pdf).

This course examines the relationship between the emerging modern world system and changes in technology, environment, and medicine, with particular emphasis on European overseas expansion and its impact in non-Western regions. This semester, we will focus specifically on the intimate links of knowledge and power in the history of the Americas. Science, technology, and medicine have had broad social and political implications for colonial formations. Using the rubrics of history, science and technology studies, and social theory, we will ask how different ways of knowing have related to the evolving social, political, and economic realities of the Western Hemisphere. Through the analysis of the circulation of commodities—e.g. chocolate, silver, and guano—we will inquire into the labor and technologies that built the Atlantic world, as well as their dire costs. We will ask whose knowledge made science and medicine as we know them through historians’ treatment of objects such as maps, specimens, and materia medica.

Confluence: Environmental History and Science & Technology Studies. Spring 2017, by Sara Pritchard, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. Syllabus (pdf).

This course examines the confluence of two fields: environmental history and the social and historical studies of science, technology, and medicine (STS). Although preliminary scholarship has begun to explore 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 reading-intensive seminar 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 Technology, Environment, and Medicine: Theory and Method, 1945-Present. Spring 2011, by Neil Maher, Federated History Department, New Jersey Institute of Technology – Rutgers University, Newark. Syllabus (pdf).

This readings course will focus on the technological, environmental, and medical history of the post-World War II era. In an effort to place this history within its broader cultural context, the semester’s readings will include works that explore this period in both the United States and beyond its borders. The semester will begin with a four-week introduction to the three fields under consideration — the history of technology, environmental history, and the history of medicine and health. We will then spend the rest of the semester reading innovative works that attempt to bridge these three historical methodologies. All of these readings will engage historical categories such as race, class, gender, consumption, politics, and the human body in an effort to better understand the numerous social movements of this period, from civil rights and the women’s movement to environmentalism, the counterculture, and the rise of conservatism. Finally, the class will examine several theoretical approaches used to conceptualize this complex relationship between the history of technology, environmental history, and the history of medicine and health during the postwar era.

History of Technology, Environment, and Health. Graduate Seminar. Fall 2008, by Stephen Pemberton, Federated History Department, New Jersey Institute of Technology – Rutgers University, Newark. Syllabus (pdf).

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, medicine, and/or health.

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 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.