New and Topics Courses 


HIST 389: Food and Environment
What connects us to the environment more than food? The breakfast you ate this morning likely had its origins in
ecosystems across North America, perhaps even the globe. In this class, we will explore how the simple act of eating has come to links us to distant places, communities, and ecologies. The course will be historical, but also political. We will ask questions about food stamps, the food pyramid, the organic label, and other pressing policy matters as we also come to understand the long distances of modern production chains. The course runs together with POL 389 Food and Environment (students enroll in just one of the two and meet together).

HIST 395
: The United States and the Two World Wars
Emphasizing social and cultural history, this course examines the ways in which Americans of different classes, races and ethnicities, genders, and political and religious persuasions experienced the world wars of the twentieth century.  

HIST 315: Darwinian Revolution
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection is the greatest intellectual and cultural turning point in the modern era. It profoundly altered the way we think of science, religion, philosophy – our modern society. We will attempt to integrate a study of evolution (science) with a study of society (humanities) to better understand the social, cultural, and scientific context of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The first part of the course will focus on Darwin’s ideas, the manner in which he came to them, and his argument’s explanatory power and weaknesses. The second part of the course will explore the diverse ramifications of Darwin’s theory, including the modern debates in science and religion, sociobiology, and other tricky contemporary issues. By studying Darwin’s ideas within its broader social, cultural, and scientific context, you will learn a base of knowledge that will allow you to critically analyze science, and enter, with an informed judgment, into the fascinating debate taking place today concerning biology’s increasing role in our society.

HIST 490: Alcohol and Drugs in the United States
The consumption of psychoactive substances has been a constant throughout the history of human societies. In modern world history, however, patterns of use have changed dramatically. How drugs and alcohol have been consumed, controlled, and prohibited over time offers a fascinating view of social, political, and cultural change. This seminar will explore what alcohol, drugs, and the culture that surrounds them can tell us about the American experience.