A History of Nature

Griffith University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    A History of Nature

  • Host University

    Griffith University

  • Location

    Gold Coast, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Ecology, History

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Course Description
    This course charts the origins and history of ecological attitudes from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. It focuses chiefly on changing ideas of nature in early modern Europe, but explores the global and colonial aspects of these new perceptions, ranging across a variety of historical and geographical contexts, including early America, British India and colonial Australia. Among other topics, the course examines the romanticisation of New World nature; the rise of picturesque landscape taste; the growth of 'nature' tourism; the recognition of animal rights; the interaction between European and non-European understandings of nature; and the birth of conservationist ideas and practices. At the same time, it also explores the complex relationship between ecological attitudes, processes and actions, showing how the emergence of new ideas of nature influenced, and were influenced by, environmental transformations, from climate change to deforestation.
    Course Introduction
    When did people climb a mountain to admire the view rather than to get to the other side? Why did European colonial officials worry about deforestation? When did it become fashionable to stop eating meat? What caused American wilderness to be revered rather than reviled? This course will explore such questions in an attempt to show that current ?green? ideas and sensibilities have a long history, stretching back to the late eighteenth century when attitudes to nature took a recognisably modern form. A major focus will be the history of the vexed relationship between nature and culture. More specifically, students will consider how changing concepts of nature, from animate to inert, utilitarian to aesthetic, harmonious to endangered, were as much a product of changing social ideologies as scientific developments or environmental forces. In addition, the course will address the way in which such ideas of nature influenced the development of landscape art.
    Course Aims
    This course aims to:
    • Show how history can reveal insights into the complex relationship between culture and nature in ways which illuminate contemporary environmental concerns, debates and sensibilities;
    • Consider changing western attitudes to nature from the early modern period to the late nineteenth century, with a primary emphasis on the emergence of Romantic and ecological re-evaluations of nature in a variety of European and colonial contexts;
    • Develop in students interdisciplinary habits of thought and analysis, thereby enriching their experience of other Humanities subjects within the BA programme.
    Learning Outcomes
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:

    1  Recognise key shifts in western attitudes to nature and the origins of current environmental concerns
    2  Examine the interaction of social ideologies and environmental sensibilities
    3  Use analytical skills to think critically about the relationship between nature and culture
    4  Engage in interdisciplinary modes of scholarship, combining historical, literary and art historical approaches and sources
    5  Construct an argument and explicate the range of factors which influenced a major shift in western thinking about nature

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.