Since launching this blog, we have heard from a number of other scholars teaching global environmental history in one form or another who have been kind enough to share their syllabi and other materials. I will be updating this blog on a semi-regular basis, uploading these contributions at intervals. Please keep your submissions coming.
The next contribution comes from across the Atlantic. Jan-Henrik Meyer is a scholar of European studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, with interests that include international organizations, social movements, transnational networks, the public sphere, and the environment. The syllabus is for a course he teaches titled “Global Environmental History – Of Nature, Perceptions, and Power.”
Jan-Henrik has a few words about his organization of and experience with the course:
“Maybe this is interesting for you as a contribution from European perspective – I made a great effort to avoid too much of a Euro-Centric perspective. Two remarks on the organisation and experience:
Organisation: Problem/Theme and case study
The (3 hour) seminars were systematically organised in the following manner: An introduction into a theme and problem was followed by a more in-depth discussion (often based on a student presentation) of an examplary case study or discussion/application of theoretical insights that illustrated the problem, e.g. when discussion nature conservation, we discussed the insecurity of human knowledge and the social logic of scientific risk assessment in cases on the Newfoundland Cod Collapse and the failed protection of the English Elms from the Dutch Elm disease. This proved very rewarding and allowed to deepen the understanding, and made students aware of the complexity of ambitions to “protect the environment”.
The seminar was based on Joachim Radkau’s Nature and Power (Cambridge UP) as the main textbook, complemented with chapters and journal articles. The textbook is very accessible due to its essayistic style. However, that is precisely also why it is a difficult text, because it makes all sorts of linkages across cultural, economic, political, social and technical phenomena, and its organisation is not of the typical straitjacket style that tends to characterise the usual textbooks. Students found it inspiring and difficult.
I further used some elements of it as the basis for my version of NYU’s Environment and Society class for NYU Berlin in the spring of 2014 in their Environmental Studies Programme.”