Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 109 (GH;US) Introduction to U.S. Environmental History (3) An introduction to the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world in American history.

HIST 109 Introduction to U.S. Environmental History (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Taking the United States as its focus, this course provides an introduction to environmental history as a field of scholarship that examines changing relationships between human beings and the natural world. Environmental history centers on the examination of various questions about such relationships, including exploring how natural forces shape history, how humankind affects nature, and how those ecological changes then reciprocally influence human life. A core message of the course will be that environmental factors do not deterministically shape history, but rather structure the possibilities open to human beings. Major themes of the course include: (1) recognizing that American history has a natural context; (2) that relationships between nature and culture change over time; and (3) that knowledge about nature is socially constructed and historically contingent. The course will examine the increasing speed and geographic spread of human-driven changes to the environment and provide students with the historical context necessary to appreciate contemporary environmental dilemmas. This course is intended as an introduction, with no prerequisites, though general familiarity with American history will be helpful.

Course meetings and assignments are designed to encourage comparing and contrasting points of view on questions such as: How has the non-human world shaped the course of American history? What were the environmental impacts of historic changes in the ways Americans produced and consumed resources? What ideas shaped the ways different groups of people defined and used specific resources? What role have science and technology played in changing popular attitudes about the human place in the world? How did America’s environment shape the political, social, and economic development of the United Sates? How have changes in American relationships with nature interacted with other global change processes and recognitions of the need to develop more sustainable societies?

General Education: GH
Diversity: US
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Fall 2016

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
  2. General Education: United States Cultures and International Cultures
  3. Course Index
  4. Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin
  5. General Education: Arts
  6. General Education: Humanities
  7. General Education: Health and Physical Activity
  8. General Education: Natural Sciences
  9. General Education: Social and Behavioral Sciences
  10. General Education: Writing/Speaking