Faculty Development

Funded Mini-Grant Proposals

Funded Mini-Grant Proposals

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History of Environmental ThoughtHistory of Environmental Thought
Michael Smith, Department of History, Ithaca College

Mini-Grant Highlight -- History of Environmental Thought

Despite some very satisfying learning outcomes in my History of America Environmental Thought course one dimension of what I consider to be an essential component of both ecological literacy and civic responsibility was missing from my course: helping the students develop a sense of place through inquiry-based learning. Environmental history offers students a unique opportunity to explore the historical interplay between human beings and non-human nature. Until students can identify the convergences of natural and human history that have created particular landscapes, they can never be native to a place. And until we all begin to understand what it means to be native to a place, we cannot hope to create a sustainable society.

For my mini-grant I spent part of the summer of 2005 developing a local environmental history project at The History Center in Ithaca in order to help students better understand the environmental history of this place they call home for up to four years (or more). The grant led to an ongoing partnership with The History Center and some very satisfying learning outcomes.

As one student put it: “This is the first environmental class I have taken, and also, my first history class in college and I can honestly say that I’ve learned more interesting and useful knowledge in this class than any others I’ve taken (I’m a senior business major). . . . Now, I understand more about how our interactions w/ the land has [sic] shaped our society.”


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