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Fruited Plains and Scarred Mountains: The Environmental History of Work in the United States
This course will examine the environmental history of work in the United States from the colonial era to the present through lectures, discussion, and other forms of active learning.
Ask most people to name an ecosystem, and they'll probably talk about mountains, beaches, plains, or forests. But most of us spend nearly a third of our adult lives in another ecosystem we often don't think about: our workplace. In fact, one of the most common ways humans interact with the environment in our modern world is by working-from farming and mining to housekeeping and coding. This course will examine the environmental history of work in the United States from the colonial era to the present through lectures, discussion, and other forms of active learning. We will cover a range of topics including racialized and gendered labors, the work of empire, energy workplaces, industrialization, agriculture, the information revolution, and climate adaptation. By engaging this history, we will also consider broader interdisciplinary questions: how should environmental concerns shape labor policy and organizing? What workplace considerations must be incorporated into the development of climate adaptation strategies and just transition programs? Why do the stories that we tell ourselves about the meaning of work matter for climate justice? What is the future of work in a climate-changed world?
Cross-listed: HIST 27208