Our awareness of the environment and its importance has changed significantly over the years. Although there are many ways in which human activity impacts the natural world, this course will focus in on the role of science and technology in shaping the environment around us. On the one hand, the growth of scientific knowledge has been a key component in understanding the human impact on the environment, and in conjunction with technology, it has allowed us to either soften the impact of human activity or devise ways to integrate our actions with nature. On the other hand, science and technology have enabled us to significantly increase the impact of human activity on the globe, particularly in the case of industrialization. In order to unpack the complicated relationship between human activity and the environment, we will consider the development of science and technology in different parts of the world and throughout human history, but with a focus on the Early Modern Period to present day.
Dr. Ian Slater, Rm 304 Bethune College, 416-650-8278, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Annotated Bibliography and Thesis Statement (3-5 pages) – 15%
3. Short Essay (10 pages) – 25%
5. Attendance - 10%
5. Final Examination – 40%
Notes on Evaluation
The summary and critique (about 2/3 summary and 1/3 critique) involves one of the readings from the course. The annotated bibliography is a listing of sources related to your thesis with a one to two paragraph summary of each source. Both the list of sources and the thesis will change over the term. All essay topics must include some discussion of the relationship between science and technology and the environment, other than that the topic is open and must be pre-approved.
Students who feel that there are extenuating circumstances which may interfere with the successful completion of the exam or other course requirements are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Course Director as soon as possible. Students with physical, learning or psychiatric disabilities who require reasonable accommodations in teaching style or evaluation methods should discuss this with the Course Director early in the term so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Lectures: Monday, Wednesday 11:30-2:30, SLH F
Office Hours: By Appointment, Bethune 304
Lecture Schedule January 4 - Introductory Lecture
January 9 – Lecture 1 – Earliest Human Impact On the Environment
- Paul S. Martin, Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America, University of California Press, 2005, Prologue and Chapter 2, pp 1-3,48-57
January 11 – Lecture 2 – Early Human Civilization: Agriculture, Urbanization and Trade
- James McClellan and Harold Dorn, Science and Technology in World History, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, Chapter 6, The Middle Kingdom, pp 117-140
January 16 – Lecture 3 – Environmental Transformation in Feudal Europe
- W TeBrake, “Taming the Waterwolf: Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management in the Netherlands during the Middle Ages”, Technology and Culture, Vol 43, N 3, July 2002
January 18 – Lecture 4 – Colonial Expansion: Globalizing the Environment
- Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the last 13,000 Years, Vintage Press, 1998, Chapter 3, Collision at Cajamarca, pp 67-82.
January 23 – Lecture 5 – Early Modern Science and The Appropriation of Nature
- Harold J Cook, Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age, Yale University Press, 2007, Chapter 1, Worldly Goods and the Transformation of Objectivity, pp 1-43
January 25 – Lecture 6 – A Nation Formed on Winter Hats – Global Economy and The Commodification of Nature
- Harold Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History, University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp 3 - 22
January 30 – Lecture 7 – The Struggle to Control Capital – The Environment as a Pawn in A Global Game
- Ronald, Naylor, Canada in the European Age: 1453-1919, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006, Chapters 11-12, pp 147-166
- James C Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, Yale University Press, 1998, Chapter 1, Nature and Space, pp11-52.
February 15 – Lecture 11 – Science Changes the Game: Industrial Expansion Magnified
- David F. Noble, America By Design: Science, Technology and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism, Oxford University Press, 1977, Chapter 1, The Wedding of Science to the Useful Arts – 1 – The Rise of Science Based Industry, pp 3-19.
February 27 – Lecture 12 – The Automobile as a Technological Fix: Technological Solutions to Environmental Problems
- David A Kirsch, The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History, Rutgers University Press, 2000, Chapter 6, The Burden of History: Expectations Past and Imperfect, pp 195-208
February 29 – Lecture 13 – The Automobile as a Conservationists’ Tool: Preserving the Forest for Highway Viewing
- Barnett, Gabrielle, Drive-By Viewing: Visual Consciousness and Forest Preservation in the Automobile Age, Technology and Culture 45. 1 (Jan 2004): 30-54
March 5 – Lecture 14 – Nature Resists Commodification and Technology Fights Back: Aerial Surveying and Mineral Resources
- Cronin, Marionne, Northern Visions: Aerial Surveying and the Canadian Mining Industry, 1919-1928, Technology and Culture48. 2 (Apr 2007): 303-330.
March 7 – Lecture 15 – Science Replaces Nature: Synthetic Rubber in The Post-War Economy
- Matthew J Bellamy, Profiting the Crown: Canada’s Polymer Corporation, 1942-1990, McGill-Queens University Press, 2005, Chapter 3, For the Country at War and the Country at Peace, 1945-1951, pp 57-86.
March 12 – Lecture 16 – Natural Resources and the Energy Industry
- Richard Hirsch, Power Loss, The Origins of Deregulation and Restructuring in the American Electric Utility System, MIT Press, 2001, Chapter 8, The Mainstreaming of Conservation, pp 135-154
March 14 – Lecture 17 – The Environmental Impacts of Globalization: Technology Enables Industry
- Vaclav Smil, Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines, IT 2010, pp 1-20
March 19 – Lecture 18 – The Technological Fix Part 2 – The Nuclear Industry