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ERIC Number: EJ824499
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Nov
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Thickening Our Stories: Models for Using Environmental History as Context
Black, Brian
History Teacher, v37 n1 p57-66 Nov 2003
In his position at Penn State University, this author teaches environmental studies (ES) students in core introductory, mid-level, and upper-level courses. As he teaches the first full batch of graduates in this year's Senior Seminar, the chorus is clear: environmental history has played a distinct role in bringing coherence to their ES curricula. This is due less to the author's teaching antics than to the power of the stories at the core of his curriculum--particularly those drawn from the past. In this essay, the author briefly explains why he believes environmental history offers such an essential building block to the ES curriculum. First, historical context lets students know the legacy and implications of the environmental impulse as well as how ES as a line of inquiry has emerged as part of the academic/professional spectrum. Second, environmental history offers the opportunity to apply ES methods and approaches by exploring the texture of human events, particularly at the local level. Finally, by linking historical events or stories to larger ideas or patterns, environmental history transcends borders of nation, species, and self to create connections with other disciplines. In short, history situates and makes relevant all other environmental inquiry. Historical case studies--or stories--can be placed in front of students like laboratory experiments to dramatize concepts and laws learned in other courses. The author has found in teaching courses with scientists that his historical stories provide additional meaning both to scientific data and to contemporary issues. (Contains 4 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A