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This subject discusses central topics in human understandings about their environment in the Western world, particularly over the last 500 years. As Europeans began to venture out of their continent in the 15th century, they discovered new environments that challenged their received wisdom about themselves and their relationship to nature. Modern Science with the inherent idea of a mastery over nature is an outcome of this process. We will trace how in this history different interpretations of 'nature' have shaped science and have been shaped by science in return, including topics such as taxonomy, gardening, theories of life, and the rise of environmentalism. This subject should be of interest to students who would like to learn more about the origins of the environmental sciences, the dominance of scientific understandings of nature, and our ongoing attempts to live within a changing environment.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject will:
- demonstrate knowledge of changes in the understanding of nature that have occurred in the western world over the last 500 years;
- demonstrate knowledge of the explanations given by historians for these understandings;
- demonstrate understanding for the complex cultural and social developments that have contributed in this process;
- develop an understanding of key scientific and philosophical concepts;
- develop an evidence-based opinion on the sustainability of our relationship with nature;
- conduct independent research including the appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an historical argument;
- develop effective communication and presentation skills (written and oral), and the ability to collaborate constructively within the classroom;
- demonstrate ethical integrity in written work and classroom activities
Last updated: 16 June 2020