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Global Environmental Histories


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Joseph Viscomi
  • Assessment: a 500-word primary source analysis (17%), 500-word modern scholarship summary (17%) and 2000-word essay (66%)

Module description

How have human and more-than-human interactions shaped and been shaped by historical processes like industrialisation, urbanisation, agricultural change, empire, war and migration? How are environmental histories part of our everyday lives? Are ideas about climate change new? What is the Anthropocene?

In this module we approach these questions, and others, through global environmental histories and the growing field of the environmental humanities. We explore ‘social’ and ‘natural’ histories from the early modern period to the present, drawing upon examples from around the world.

Indicative syllabus

  • Defining environmental history and the environmental humanities
  • Commons, enclosure and improvement
  • Urbanisation, trade and the built environment
  • Disasters and catastrophes: nature’s agency
  • Migrant environments
  • Climates of empire
  • Environments of war and revolution
  • Agriculture and food ecologies
  • History in/of the Anthropocene: oil and energy
  • Climate futures: apocalypse or renewal?

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • have knowledge of scholarly debates in environmental history
  • be able to examine and articulate the connections between different historical processes
  • understand how some ideas about the environment have changed over time.