North American Environmental History

This course examines recent historical work that makes claims for the "environment" being the major determinant in the development of the North American continent. We will look at land use in pre-colonial times, the spread of slave-based extensive agriculture in the South, wood lot management in the north, mid-western farming, western mining, the parameters of nineteenth century urban growth as well as the consequences of the arrival of the automobile. We will also look at the growth of the environmental movement over the last two centuries.

3 credits

Course Code: SS 396

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.