The histories on this site were written by students in Global Environmental History (HIS 350L), taught by Professor Megan Raby at the University of Texas at Austin in Fall 2019.
Global Environmental History explores how human societies and natural environments have shaped each other in world history. In 2019, the course focused on the theme of climate change.
Course Description: The planet is currently warming at a rate unprecedented in human history. How can historical perspectives help us face this present-day problem? This course will examine how a variety of human cultures have understood and responded to changing climates in the recent and deep past. By exploring topics from the “Little Ice Age” to melting Andean glaciers, we will consider how both natural and anthropogenic climate variability has historically shaped migration, colonialism, conflict, technology, perceptions of nature, and cultural values. We will also analyze how historical shifts in practices of land use, industrialization, and capitalism have led to the global warming we are experiencing today. Finally, we will trace how researchers have pieced together our contemporary understanding of climate science and how politics and culture have shaped societies’ responses.
Examine how different human cultures have understood, shaped, and been shaped by the environment through history.
Understand how historians use evidence to construct arguments, including how historical approaches differ from other disciplinary approaches to studying humans and the environment.
Improve your historical research, writing, and argumentative skills.
Reflect on how historical perspectives can inform our responses to present-day climate change.