AMST 252
A Perfect Storm: How Economic and Environmental Disaster Defined America During the Depression Spring 2015
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed AMST 252 / ENVI 252
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

What happens to environmental priorities and perspectives when the economy crashes? Since 2008, the “Great Recession” has been disastrous not only for Americans’ financial well-being, but also for the political will to take action on climate change (to name just one environmental issue). But it wasn’t always this way. The 1930s, one of the most traumatic decades of the twentieth century in America, actually spurred environmentally-conscious action in an economic context far worse than what we are experiencing today. Why? This class will explore the many ways Americans understood their diverse local environments and took action to save them during the Great Depression. Although the Dust Bowl is perhaps the most iconic of these environmental upheavals during the 1930s, this course will explore diverse geographical regions: from the Appalachian mountains to the (de)forested Upper Midwest, from the agricultural South to the Dust Bowl plains and the water-starved West. In each region, we will trace the impacts of economic turmoil on the environment and the people who depended on it for their livelihoods, as well as the way the economic disaster paved the way for the federal government’s unprecedented intervention in environmental matters. Key texts will include John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (along with the John Ford film adaptation) and Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.
The Class: Format: seminar/discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 3976
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation based on attendance and participation, weekly written responses to readings, two 5-7 page essays, and a final examination consisting of essays and identifications
Prerequisites: none
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 252 Division II ENVI 252 Division II
Attributes: ENVI Humanities, Arts + Social Science Electives
ENVP SC-B Group Electives

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