AM6003 - States of Nature: An Environmental History of the Americas (Explorations in American Studies III)

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What will I learn on this module?

Focusing on North and South America, this module examines the interaction between humans and the environment throughout history. We will discuss the ways in which various peoples experienced their environment: how they attempted to change it, how they were limited by it, and how they thought about nature. In doing so, we will consider historical change at several levels:

1. Material and ecological: the physical changes that humans in the American have wrought over the past 10,000 years.

2. Social and political: the connection between peoples’ use of the environment and the way in which American societies developed.

3. Intellectual and ideological: how individuals and societies have understood nature at various points throughout history and how this understanding has shaped their actions.

You will find out about the relationship between humans and nature in the period before European expansion in the Americas and, following on from this, you will consider the ecological impact of European colonialism. The module content covers human activities such as farming and mining, but also the impact of floods, hurricanes and climate change. You will consider the spread of cities, the role of their hinterlands and the creation of national parks. In the final sections of the module, you will examine the manifold impacts of consumer culture (including waste and pollution) as well as the rise of environmentalist movements that were critical of humans’ ecological footprint.

How will I learn on this module?

Weekly lectures will familiarise you with core concepts in the environmental history of the Americas. Your weekly seminars will deepen your understanding of the key issues. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading, and will build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. All learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLearning Portal (Blackboard) to enable participation within the seminar programme. You will participate in formative assessment activities and receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your academic tutors, your peers and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised feedback and consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts in environmental history.
2. Display an understanding of ways in which humans in the Americas have interacted with their environment.
3. Acquire knowledge of key texts and scholarly contexts in American environmental history.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Develop skills such as the ability to summarise other people’s research, to analyse and interpret historical evidence and to communicate ideas in writing.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Display an awareness of humans’ impact on the environment.

How will I be assessed?

There are three assessments for this module:
• a book review of 1,000 words, weighted 20% [MLOs 2, 3, 4]
• an annotated bibliography of 8–10 items and 2,000 words, weighted 30% [MLOs 1, 2, 3, 4]
• an essay of 3,000 words, weighted 50% [MLO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
You will have the opportunity to present your ideas in the seminars and will receive formative feedback from your lecturer in classroom discussions, debates, and tutorial sessions. Formative assessment through your lecturer will be written and verbal. Feedback on your first summative assessment will allow you to improve on subsequent coursework

Pre-requisite(s)

n/a

Co-requisite(s)

n/a

Module abstract

How did humans in North and South America interact with their environment? In this module, we will consider the ways in which different peoples experienced their environment: how they attempted to change it, how they were limited by it, and how they thought about nature. The module thus offers you a fresh perspective on the Americas, engaging you with questions of ongoing relevance. In doing so, you will consider historical change at several levels:

1. Material and ecological: the physical changes that humans in the American have wrought over the past 10,000 years.

2. Social and political: the connection between peoples’ use of the environment and the way in which American societies developed.

3. Intellectual and ideological: how individuals and societies have understood nature at various points throughout history and how this understanding has shaped their actions.

Course info

UCAS Code QV31

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2019 or September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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