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NATURE IN AMERICAN HISTORY (HIS-243544)

Center for Distance Learning Home > Distance Learning Catalog > Historical Studies >

Course Description:


Explore the history of the changing relationship between American culture and its environment, especially as that relationship has been manifest physically (as "nature," the ecosystems we’ve inhabited, which have been changed by our activity) and conceptually (as "nature," a concept that has a history and evolution of its own and which has entered into the thinking of philosophers, economists, poets, artists, legislators, environmentalists, biologists, etc.) Become familiar with the main eras and episodes of American history as they relate to American culture’s grounding in nature: the European encounter with a (supposedly) virgin wilderness; the rapid exploitation of resources that accompanied westward and industrial expansion; the closing of the frontier and the development of resource conservationism; continued industrialization of the nature-culture relationship through nearly a century of war; the modern tension between economics and a concern for ecological health and balance. Through readings, discussions, writing and other study activities, learn a basic narrative of the American experience by tracing the nature-culture relation over time and trace the complex interaction between the character of that relationship and contemporaneous political, social, economic and cultural changes. Study the work and historical context of such influential thinkers as Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson. In addition, participants will engage in a practical component of study by learning to read contemporary American landscapes for what they record of cultural, social, land-use and ecological history - a basic element of environmental literacy that has been neglected in our era.

This course fully meets the General Education requirement in American History.


This online course is offered through the Center for Distance Learning. You can take this as an individual course or as part of an online degree program, with term starts in March, May, September, November and January. View current term offerings and all online courses. Click here to register for online courses.

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Liberal Study
Upper Level
Credits: 4
Meets General Education Requirement In: American History-Full

Term(s) Offered (Subject to Change) : Jan. May. Sep. Nov.

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