HIST1901 Environmental History

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 2AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 option in the History major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 1 elective
What factors have shaped human dealings with the natural world? How have people changed the environment? And how have different societies responded to environmental change over time? These are the questions at the heart of this unit, which offers an introduction to environmental history. A survey of the field follows key historical debates on topics including Indigenous environmental impacts, human–animal relationships, El Niño and nineteenth-century Indian famines, the causes of the American dust bowl, the politics of fisheries, the cultural significance of wilderness and implications of preservationism, the 'green' policies of Nazi Germany and relationships between nature and nationalism. Students gain an understanding of the myriad factors shaping relationships between people and environments in the past; an understanding that is essential for interpreting the environmental problems we face today.
Students are able to (1) formulate sound arguments about how human actions have been shaped by their historical contexts (social, political, economic, cultural and environmental); (2) describe the processes leading to environmental change in a range of places and periods; (3) demonstrate knowledge of a range of key debates in environmental history; (4) identify, critically evaluate and respond to arguments presented in secondary sources; (5) identify, critically evaluate and respond to evidence presented in primary sources; (6) express ideas cogently in verbal and essay forms; (7) reference written work in accordance with the History guide to documentation of sources; and (8) demonstrate an awareness of the ways in which historically determined ideas about the environment inform current environmental policies and debates.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) workshop participation; (2) a short essay; and (3) a review essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor, Dr Joseph Christensen
Unit rules
HIST2201 Environmental History
Contact hours
2 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.