Syllabi in Environment and Society

from Multimedia Library Collection:
Web Resources

This compilation of online syllabi on the interrelationship between environment and society provides a growing resource for teachers and students. It reflects a diversity of scholarly approaches towards the reciprocal interrelationships between humans and their environment, from environmental history and humanities, as well as the social and natural sciences. We continually strive for geographical and cultural diversity and invite you to help make this list more inclusive. Please contact us to send your suggestions. For an international overview of teaching in the environmental humanities, we recommend the article “Teaching the Environmental Humanities: International Perspectives and Practices” (Environmental Humanities 2019).


The Syllabus Project is working to diversify environmental history syllabi to include women and scholars of color, and thereby strengthen and enrich its teaching, scholarship, and field. It manages an open-for-collaboration Zotero library where you can submit suggestions or gain inspiration. 


The Radical Hope syllabus is group-sourced and serves as a resource for anyone interested in environmental issues. It provides a new way of framing and thinking about how individuals or groups might formally or informally learn about our most pressing environmental issues—and how we, collectively and/or individually, might respond to them. 


Dr. Nicholas Lawrence from the English and Comparative Literary Studies Department at the University of Warwick offers an undergraduate course in Literature, Environment, Ecology. The course examines how questions of environmental nature produce a literary and cultural response and new models of ecological thinking, and the implications of reconsidering traditional ways of interaction between human and non-human entities. 


Dr. N.A.J. Taylor at The University of Melbourne offers the course Environment and Story, which considers the role of story(telling) as a cultural medium for storing and communicating the knowledge and values of a society by situating Australian narratives in both Oceania and the biosphere. Another course, Australian Environmental Philosophy, acknowledges the Indigenous environmental philosophies circulating for at least 65,000 prior to when Richard Routley’s “last man example” is said to have spawned the academic subfield of Environmental Philosophy in 1973. 


Dr. Jenia Mukherjee from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur offers an online course entitled Water, Society and Sustainability via the Indian Government’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL). The course is located at the intersection of water, technology, science, and society in the urban Global South. It combines theory and methodology with empirical case studies to familiarize students with the water-society relationship, and its challenges and potential. It will be offered online for free between August and October 2019.


The Cogut Institute for Humanities at Brown University offers the course The Anthropocene: The Past and Present of Environmental Change as part of a curriculum in environmental humanities for both graduate and undergraduate students. Using the Anthropocene to think through environmental change and the human relationship with the non-human world, it draws on topics ranging from anthropology to the sciences as well as history.


Dr. William Cronon from the University of Wisconsin–Madison offers courses for both graduate and undergraduate students in American Environmental History, Topics in American Environmental History, and The Making of American Landscapes. His research studies the historical interaction between humans and the natural world, based on how we affect and are affected by the ecosystems and landscapes around us.


The course Introduction to Environmental History is offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the Undergraduate level. It provides a historical overview of the interactions between people and their environments. Focusing primarily on the experience of Europeans in the period after Columbus (1500 CE), the subject explores the influence of nature (climate, topography, plants, animals, and microorganisms) on human history and the reciprocal influence of people on nature. 


Teaching Global Environmental History shares syllabi and other resources to place local and regional developments into global frames and to better understand pressing ecological processes from shrinking biodiversity to climate change. It emerged from a roundtable session at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History. 


The course Environmental History of Asia is offered by the SOAS University of London. The field of Asian environmental history has been burgeoning since the 1990s, and has produced diverse literature, in particular on China and India, but also on Japan and the Southeast Asian region. The aim of this course is to introduce this material and the questions it raises, such as the impact of colonialism on environmental change, resource use and development, disasters and vulnerability, migration and conflict, environmental dynamics of cities, and the effects of climate change.


The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) maintains an archive of sample syllabi in the fields of environmental literature, ecocriticism, environmental studies, literature, and science, and broadly in the humanities and the arts. This resource for students, teachers, and scholars is ever-growing and invites new syllabi for inclusion. 


The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) is a consortium of liberal arts colleges in the United States. Their pedagogic resources capture and disseminate the work of ACM faculty. Of particular interest are their courses Germany and the Environment, and Environmental History, both of which target undergraduates. 


The KTH Royal Insitute of Technology in Stockholm boasts of an Environmental Humanities Laboratory, which offers a course on Environmental Humanities. It envisions the field as a post (or anti)-disciplinary arena, and fosters students to think across disciplinary borders to tackle the environmental and social challenges of current times.


The University of Bremen offered the German undergraduate course Einführung in die sozial-und kulturwissenschaftliche Umweltforschung which outlines theoretical and methodological innovations in social and cultural anthropology (Ethnology), geography, and Science and Technology Studies (STS) to build a curriculum for research in the Environmental Humanities.  


The European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture, and Environment offers comprehensive syllabi for its members, but the course Culture and the Environment is free to download. Meant for graduate students, it provides a broad foundation in contemporary ecocritical/eco-cultural studies and the Environmental Humanities. The course offers an advanced critical outlook on current ideas about human and nonhuman relationships, nature and culture, and how their ecological interactions are articulated and contested in what came to be known as naturecultures. 


The University of New South Wales Sydney (UNSW)  launched a free online course titled Environmental Humanities: Remaking Nature in 2016. The course examines contemporary environmental challenges using approaches from philosophy, literature, language, history, anthropology, cultural studies, and the arts. Delivered over a six week period, the course is suitable for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates, or researchers. 


The University of Oslo runs the course Environmental Humanities for masters students in the Development, Environment & Cultural Change program. The course invites students to examine environmental topics through the lens of philosophy and ethics, literary traditions, history, media, landscape studies, and the arts. You can find the comprehensive syllabus here.  


Dr. Michela Coletta from the University of Warwick offers the course Nature and Modernity in Latin America taught within the Monash Warwick Alliance international study programme. The course explores the connections between cultural and material forms of extraction, as well as sets of knowledge that have emerged out of processes of exploitation and resistance and which can contribute to our collective rethinking of human–nature relations.


The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) in collaboration with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) offers a course on Digital Environmental Communication, which examines the role of digital technologies in environmental communication, with a focus on discourse in the public sphere. The key question is—what opportunities and challenges do digital tools present, and how do they change the production and circulation of knowledge?


The RCC also runs an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Certificate Programme for masters students of the LMU. Its Ecopolis seminar focuses on “understanding and imaging Munich’s environments,”  and tackles diverse topics such as Munich’s water and the Isar River, the Olympic Park and English Garden, and projects on greening or urban commoning. The outcome of student research is compiled in our virtual exhibition Ecopolis München: Environmental Histories of a City.  


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