Environmental historical research began in the 1960s with the aim of interpreting human history through the lens of both historical and ecological processes. The primary goal is studying the relationship between the physical and biological environments in past human societies.
Firstly, there will be a review of the way environmental history thinks of processes in the disciplines and sub-disciplines have developed. The second thematic unit of the course is the examination of the most important kinds of data that are used in environmental historical research. The classes will discuss scientific, archaeological and historical sources with regard to their use in reconstruction of historical environments, climates and human-nature interactions.
The third major group of classes is dedicated to the discussion of case studies. At some times and places societies display flexibility and resilience in the face of fluctuations in climate or human induced changes that affect the immediate environment. At other times and places small fluctuations or short-term solutions to environmental shifts can spell disaster to the subsistence base of the population, possibly with long term consequences. Each class will introduce vulnerability and adaptation strategies on status, change and crisis through examples from roughly the last two millennia.