Ecological Revolutions:

A History of the Environment and Techology in the US


Aspen Trees

Course Description and Course Expectations:

Every time we turn on a light, check a text message, send an email, drive to the grocery store, buy a burger from In n Out, purchase a piece of clothing, or drink a glass of water, the earth is involved.  The purpose of this course is to engage students in an exploration of the history of human beings and the environment over time and to increase their awareness of the environmental implications and requirements for utilizing technologies in our every day lives.  The course will be organized around 6 elements and the ways in which Americans, from 1800-present, harvested and altered those elements to fashion human cultures, economies, politics, places, and relationships of power. 


The expectations of this course are very simple.  Dr. Berry expects that you be interested, motivated, curious, resilient, and prepared.  It is not, for example, expected that you be an environmentalist, a Sage Brush rebel, a Luddite, a technophile, or a technophobe.  BUT it is expected that if you don’t know what those words mean, that you would be interested, curious and motivated enough to look them up.  It is NOT expected that you be the most skillful writer, but it IS expected that you take your writing seriously and work hard at revising your essays based on Dr. Berry’s feedback.  This means that you must be prepared to spend a fair bit of time engaged in the task of writing.  It is NOT expected that you know exactly what you think about all the issues and topics we may encounter this semester, but it IS expected that you participate in our class discussion and dissection of those topics.  And it is NOT expected that you be the best reader in the world, but it IS expected that you will be willing to struggle when the reading is difficult and persevere through difficult assignments to arrive in class fully prepared.  90% of the time – which means it is NOT expected that you won’t have an off day.  But it IS expected that you won’t have very many.  If we all agree to try our best to meet these expectations (Dr. Berry promises to as well), then we will have one awesome class! 


Required Books and Readings:

Fiege, Mark. Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States.  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013.

White, Richard. The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River.  New

York: Hill and Wang, 1995.

Wells, Christopher.  Car Country.  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013.

On-line articles from JSTOR (posted on homepage and in the Course Calendar)

Hand-outs of excerpts from other books.





| ©2010Michelle Berry