Teaching

CURRENT COURSES Fall 2020

CURRENT OURSES
Fall 2020

HIS 380K History of Science and the Environment 

(Graduate historiography seminar)

***Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, this course will be offered online.***

This seminar will introduce students to the historiography and methods of two fields: the history of science and environmental history. Both historical subfields center on nature, yet the core questions of each field are distinct. Environmental historians seek to understand the dynamic relationship between humans and nature over time. Historians of science are concerned with the production of knowledge about the natural world. This seemingly subtle difference in orientation creates profound theoretical and methodological tensions. Environmental historians draw on science in order to reconstruct environmental change and nature’s active role in human history. In contrast, historians of science take a more critical stance toward science––for them, science is the object of explanation rather than a methodological tool. By interrogating the tensions and intersections of these two fields, we can hone our historical thinking. How should scholars understand non-humans as actors or agents in human history? What position should the natural sciences hold in historical argumentation and narrative? Why does a historian’s stance toward matter matter?

This course will be an exploration of interdisciplinary historical approaches to materialism and the construction of knowledge. It will not focus narrowly on the history of the environmental sciences, although this topic will be addressed in multiple ways. Throughout the course, we will ground ourselves in a selection of foundational texts from each field, while also exploring a wide range of new scholarship that inhabits the growing borderlands between them.

(Syllabus)



RECENT & RECURRING COURSES

HIS 329U Perspectives on Science and Math (Wr) 

Perspectives on Science and Math explores the intellectual, social, and cultural history of science and mathematics, focusing on the 17th century to the present. This is an upper-division history course designed for students in UTeach Natural Sciences. It has four interlocking goals: to give students an overview of the history of science and math in order to broaden their understanding of subjects they will teach in the future; to enable them to put this broader history and context to work in science and math pedagogy; to improve their ability to research, analyze, and evaluate information; and to improve their writing and communication skills.

This is a Writing Flag course. It is designed to give students experience writing within an academic discipline. Students can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback to help them revise their writing. Students will also have the opportunity to read and discuss peers’ work.

This course also fulfills the Social & Behavioral Sciences core requirement and addresses the following objectives established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: communication skills, critical thinking skills, empirical and quantitative skills, and social responsibility.

Resources for students in this course: https://perspectives.uteach.utexas.edu

(Sample Syllabus)

HIS 350L Global Environmental History (Wr, II, GC) 

Global Environmental History explores how human societies and natural environments have shaped each other in world history. This semester, we will focus on the theme of climate change. The planet is currently warming at a rate unprecedented in human history, yet historial perspectives can help us face this present-day problem. This course will examine how a variety of human cultures have understood and responded to changing climates in the recent and deep past. By exploring topics from the “Little Ice Age” to melting Andean glaciers, we will consider how both natural and anthropogenic climate variability has historically shaped migration, colonialism, war, technology, perceptions of nature, and cultural values. We will also analyze how historical shifts in practices of land use, industrialization, and capitalism have led to global warming. Finally, we will trace how researchers have pieced together our contemporary understanding of climate science and how politics and culture have shaped societies’ responses.

This course is an upper-division, reading- and writing-intensive seminar. It acts as an introduction to the growing field of environmental history, as well as to a variety of approaches to understanding history at a scale beyond the nation-state. It carries Independent Inquiry, Global Cultures, and Writing Flag designations:

This course carries the Independent Inquiry Flag. Independent Inquiry courses are designed to engage you in the process of inquiry over the course of a semester, providing you with the opportunity for independent investigation of a question, problem, or project related to your major. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from the independent investigation and presentation of your own work.

This course also carries the Global Cultures Flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.

This is a Writing Flag course. It is designed to give students experience writing within an academic discipline. Students can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback to help them revise their writing. Students will also have the opportunity to read and discuss peers’ work.

Website developed by Fall 2019 class: Climate Change Histories

Website developed by Spring 2017 class: Global Environmental History

(Sample Syllabus)

HIS 322G History of the Modern Life Sciences 

The History of the Modern Life Sciences traces the study of living things from the seventeenth century to the present. We will examine how naturalists and biologists have searched for order in nature––from cabinets of curiosity to maps of biodiversity, and from the theory of cells to the structure of DNA. In this course, students will examine the development of changing practices and approaches to investigating life in the field, the museum, and the laboratory. Students will confront critical problems in the history of biology and society, including those related to exploration and empire; race, gender, and classification; theories of evolution; genetics and eugenics; ecology and conservation; molecular biology; and biotechnology. How has the meaning of “life” changed through history? How have ideas about social order and natural order mirrored or shaped each other? To explore these questions, we will analyze historians’ interpretations, historical actors’ own accounts of their work and ideas, as well as historical images and objects of scientific practice.

This course may be used to satisfy Natural Science requirements.

This course also carries the Global Cultures Flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.

(Sample Syllabus)

HIS 381 Introduction to Environmental History 

(Graduate historiography seminar)

Environmental history is one of the most rapidly growing, in-demand subfields of history. At the same time, it is an interdisciplinary field, drawing insight from geography, ecology, cultural studies, and other areas in order to understand changing human relationships with nature over time. This seminar will introduce students to the historiography and diverse methods of environmental history. We will read and discuss a variety of classic and cutting edge texts in environmental history, with an emphasis on global, transnational, and comparative studies. Throughout the semester, several guest speakers (including LLILAS-Benson Visiting Resource Scholar Manuel Valdés Pizzini) will share their insights about particular methods or approaches. Topics may include animal history, disasters, cities, health, environmental justice, political ecology, as well as introductions to regional historiographies, including Latin America. Specific selections will be shaped in part by student interests, with an aim toward preparing students to incorporate perspectives from environmental history into their own research and teaching.

(Sample Syllabus)


PAST COURSES

All courses taught at UT Austin

HIST 275 American Environmental History, 2012-2013 Semester 2, St. Olaf College

Website developed by the class: Exit 69: Environmental Histories of Northfield, Minnesota

(Syllabus)

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