HIS/EVS 483 – History of Environmental Inequalities


This course explores the connections between environmental change and human inequality from the early modern period until today. It reaches across local and global scales, drawing on local case studies to emphasize global historical themes such as the roles of colonialism, segregation, and economic vulnerability. It will introduce students to a variety of theoretical tools to enrich and problematize these histories such as slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Students will use these tools and this historical context to better interrogate their own social and environmental position.

Students will employ these lessons in an investigation of environmental inequality in Omaha. Working with community partners, students will conduct an original research project about the historical significance and legacy of lead pollution in Omaha. Students will also go into the community to do lead testing in vulnerable homes in cooperation with the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. This service learning approach adds immediacy and relevance to the historical themes discussed in the course while at the same time reminding us that “real-world” problems have histories. Student projects will contribute to public awareness of ongoing environmental risks. In the context of presentations, student-led discussions, and an interdisciplinary digital media project that incorporates information gathering, analysis, and presentation of environmental and social data, this course encourages students to criticallyThe format of the final project will develop in close dialogue with the needs and expectations of organizations working on lead pollution in Omaha.