What is environmental history?

So, what exactly do we mean by environmental history, and why is it so important?

As part of a newly established MSc in Landscape, Environment and History at the University of Edinburgh, Prof. Chris Smout, emeritus professor of history at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, is interviewed about what environmental history is and why it is important.* He argues that the subject area is like a stage on which various subjects come together. The difference with conventional history is that environmental history is not only concerned with people but also with nature, the landscape and the environment as a whole. However, it is not just the history of nature but more the history of human interaction with the environment.

Click here to watch this interview with Prof. T.C. Smout introducing environmental history (7 mins approx).

*Professor Smout’s research interests include the environmental history of sustainability, with particular reference to sustainable forestry in Scotland. He is also involved in the comparative environmental history of Europe and Japan since 1800. This innovative new Masters programme in Landscape, Environment and History is delivered entirely by distance-learning, using the Internet, multimedia and other digital tools.

[Photo: A portion of Hadrian’s Wall between the Scottish Borders, Scotland, and Northumberland, England. Hadrian’s Wall was a fortification built across the entire width of northern England during the 2nd century, marking the northern frontier of the Roman Empire (Photo: Dmitri Kessel)]

There was also a very strong Scottish influence in New Zealand’s own environmental history. See for example: Were the Scottish really greener?

See also: Why is understanding our environmental history so important?

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