ESPM 160




Study Guide





Please read carefully. Hopefully, this will answer all your questions.

Department: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley.

Department Office: 145 Mulford Hall; Student Services, 133 Mulford; Resource Center: 260 Mulford.

ESPM 160 Course Mailbox (GSIs): 140 Mulford (inner room).

Professor: Carolyn Merchant, 138 Giannini Hall, 642-0326; Mailbox: 137 Mulford Hall. Office hours: Tu 4-5, W. 4-5 or by appointment.

Required Discussion Sections: To be in the class you must attend and sign in for 1st 3 weeks. Discussion sections start in Week One with Preface and Chapter 1 of course text, Major Problems in American Environmental History (2005), see below.


Three 1-hour lectures and one 1 and 1/2-hour discussion per week. History of the American environment and the ways in which different cultural groups have perceived, used, managed, and conserved it from colonial times to the present. Cultures include American Indians and European and African Americans. Natural resources development includes gathering-hunting-fishing; farming, mining, ranching, forestry, and urbanization. Changes in attitudes and behaviors toward nature and past and present conservation and environmental movements are also examined. Readings are from primary source documents supplemented by recent essays.

Approved for the American Cultures requirement and for the History major. Satisfies the Conservation and Resource Studies Social Science or Humanities requirement and can be used in the CRS Area of Interest. Fulfills breadth requirements for L&S and College of Engineering.

Course Materials

Text: Major Problems in American Environmental History, ed. Carolyn Merchant. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage, 2012. Available at the Cal Student Store, UC Berkeley campus. Copies on 2-hour reserve in the Bioscience and Natural Resources Library, Valley Life Sciences Building.

ESPM 160 Study Guide containing discussion questions can be accessed, downloaded, and printed from this web site.

Listen to podcasts of all lectures.

Reading Assignments

Eight hours of work outside of class per week is expected (i.e. 2 hours per credit unit). There are fifteen chapters in the reader and fifteen weeks in the course. We will read one chapter each week (approximately 40 pages per week) in Major Problems in American Environmental History. Each chapter is divided into primary source documents and secondary source essays. You should read the documents in preparation for the Monday lecture, the essays in preparation for the Wednesday lecture, and be prepared to answer the questions in the Study Guide during the discussion sections. Pop quizzes on the readings may be given in section. On Fridays required films and videos will be shown and one-page, single-spaced papers (5 total) on the contents are due every two to three weeks (see films and videos assignments and paper guidelines below).

Requirements and Grading

Your final grade will be composed of five parts:

  1. Participation in discussion sections is required. (30% of the grade: 15% attendance/15% participation and pop quizzes). The discussion sections are not simply reviews of the lectures. You should be prepared to discuss the assigned readings, be able to answer the weekly discussion questions in the Study Guide, and relate them to the lecture materials. Pop quizzes on the readings may be given in section. Attendance in sections will be recorded. Your Personal Environmental History, 1-2 pp. Due Wednesday of Week Two. See assignments on this web site.
  2. Midterm examination (20% of grade). Monday of Week 8. The midterm will cover chapters 1-7 of the text (Weeks 1-7) and will be based on the discussion questions in the Study Guide and the films and videos. There will be a choice. The best way to prepare is to attend the lectures and discussion sections each week and prepare your answers to the discussion questions as you go along.
  3. Course project (10% of grade). To be presented in discussion sections starting week 4. Sign up in section for a chapter in Major Problems during week 2 (2 persons only per week) and turn in a 1/2 page proposal for a creative project in discussion section Week 3. See assignments on this web site. Your creative projects must have (a) historical authenticity and (b) environmental content, be relevant to the chapter you have chosen, and include an index card detailing both (a) and (b). Projects should be relevant to, but go beyond the chapter readings. Examples are: a short play; one or more poems, paintings, or sculptures; a series of cartoons or jokes; a musical offering; an environmental history of Berkeley, your home town, or region in words or pictures; preparation or planting of historical or ethnically authentic foods; a restored or reconstructed piece of technology; a journal of personal responses to the readings; another project of your own imagination. You get up to ten points if you do the project on time and fulfill the above criteria; 0 points if you fail to do it or do it in a sloppy or half-you know what-(hearted, of course) manner.
  4. Films and videos (15% of grade). Five 1-page single-spaced critiques of the films. See assignments and paper guidelines on this web site.
  5. Final examination (25% of grade). The examination questions will be based on the readings, lectures, Study Guide questions, and the films and videos. It may include any or all of the following: essays (with choices), multiple-choice questions, IDs, and a map question.