Environmental History

Anna Bates, Hudson Valley Center, Newburgh Unit, SUNY Empire State College writes:

“Environmental History studies the interaction between humans and their physical environment over time.   It is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates traditional human history with various natural sciences, geography and other pertinent disciplines.  It is a relatively new field, which emerged in the 1960s and 70s and picked up steam with recent concerns about environmental change and its possible connections to human behaviors.”

“Some of the questions that environmental historians ask include:  How did humans utilize the natural resources available to them over time?  Did humans impact their environment in ways that caused the decimation of certain civilizations?  How did pivotal points in human history, such as the transition to agriculture from hunting and gathering, impact the physical environment?  How do clashes between civilizations (such as the European “discovery” of the New World) impact the environment?  How does the natural environment of a given place (water, atmosphere, plants, animals, etc…) treat human invaders?  What are the long-range impacts of industrialization?  How do various cultural and religious practices among humans impact the natural world?  This is a multi-faceted and widely multi-disciplinary field with many possibilities.”