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BA History / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
The Crisis of Nature: Issues in Environmental History
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Pandemics, overfishing, mass extinctions, plastics, disasters, disappearing forests - both the popular media and scientists today speak in terms of a major environmental crisis. In this course you will explore the following questions: How new are these concerns? What are the origins of environmental thinking? Indeed, what is meant by "nature"? What is thought to be the ideal relationship of the human species to the rest of the world? And do we have anything to learn from other cultures or from our own past?
Pandemics, plastics, global warming, mass extinctions, disappearing forests – both the popular media and scientists today increasingly speak in terms of environmental crisis. The aim of this course is to explore the following questions: How new are these concerns? What are the origins of environmental thinking? Indeed, what is meant by “nature”? What is thought to be the ideal relationship of the human species to the rest of the world? And do we have anything to learn from other cultures or from our own past?
By the end of this unit, a student taking this unit will be able:
- to analyse environmental movements and environmental legislation in the light of key scientific and ethical issues
- to see the global connections that link environmental changes and pay particular attention to how modern technology has changed our relationship with nature on a worldwide scale
- to analyse the many cultural and historical constructions of nature and to explore ideas about relations between nature and culture
- to be familiar with a wide range of perspectives on the environment – social, cultural, scientific and political
- Origins and meaning of “nature”
- Invention of the environment
- Risk Society
- Environmental health
- Climate Crisis
- Food chains and GMOs
- Crises in the Media
One lecture and one seminar per week. Seminars are based on debate on set problem (not assessed).
- Analytical skills
- Critical reading, essays - all based on analytical readings of sources
- Group/team working
- Seminars would involve non-assessed debates between teams.
- Students develop different interpretations to problem questions - on occasion work on highly localized problems even on campus (light saving proposals on basis of observations). In sessions, developing argument for maximum impact on jury. Jury creatively interprets defense and prosecution groups.
- During seminars, group leaders are in charge of leading the group in the debate
- Oral communication
- Seminars discussions, debates
- Problem solving
- Essays may require finding a solution to a problem: e.g. what is the key environmental issue on the campus of University of Manchester?
- Primary and Secondary
- Written communication
- Essay and exam; short summaries when required
1000 word essay (50%); exam (50%)
- Cronon W (1996) Uncommon Ground. W.W.Norton
- Douglas M (1984) Purity and Danger. London : Ark
- Soule M & Lease G (1995) Reinventing Nature: Responses to Postmodern Deconstruction. Island Press
- Vladimir Jankovic (2010) Confronting the Climate. New York
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Vladimir Jankovic||Unit coordinator|