January 19, 2018

Teaching Environmental History: Canada in Context


Lawrence J. Burpee. “Trading Posts and Canoe routes”. [1:27 000 000] [1927]. In An Historical Atlas of Canada. Toronto: Thomas Nelson and Sons Limited, Map 64.

This set of eight teaching modules provides university instructors with a full set of pedagogical resources aimed at integrating Canadian themes and research into their course curriculum. All are drawn from the special Canada-focused issue of Environmental History (October 2007), edited by Matthew Evenden and Alan MacEachern (see their Introductory editors’ note here). We hope the modules will inspire greater engagement with Canada’s fascinating history and serve as models for instructors to develop similar teaching resources for other regions of the world.

Created by Dr. David Brownstein (Klahanie Research Ltd.) and funded by a generous grant from the Network in Canadian History and Environment/Nouvelle Initiative Canadienne en Histoire et L’Environnement (NiCHE), each module includes an open source article from Environmental History, reading discussion questions, supplemental primary sources, a glossary of terms, and an analytical essay that places the article into a broader context. Some modules also provide videos or other visual resources that can be used in class or as the basis for student assignments.

Although Brownstein designed the modules for college- or university-level instruction, high school teachers can modify them for use in their classes as well. The modules are also largely historical in nature, but can be adapted for a wide variety of disciplines, particularly geography, visual culture, government, public policy, international relations, and natural resource management.

All the modules clearly


list learning goals and what resources are included. Some of these goals run through all modules, including familiarizing students with archival sources and encouraging them to connect the concepts of the lessons with their own experiences. Others are unique to specific modules, tailored to the content of the article.

The articles in the modules are copyrighted by their authors. Oxford University Press has provided free access to them through the Environmental History archive (envhis.oxfordjournals.org). The National Film Board of Canada has opened up free access to several of its films to instructors outside of Canada. The rest of the content is in the public domain (exceptions are noted). Please adjust the teaching modules (available under a Creative Commons Share Alike license) to suit your educational needs, but do provide credit to all the generous supporters of these resources where appropriate.

Special thanks are due to Finn Arne Jørgensen, Environmental History”s Digital Content Editor, and Peter Bennesved, the journal’s Webmaster, whose extensive contributions of time and expertise made this “Teaching EH” unit a functioning reality.

Lisa M. Brady
Editor in Chief

List of Modules:

  1. Ecological Imperialism
  2. Wet Prairie
  3. Extreme Events
  4. Downwind, Downstream, Downtown: Ecological Footprint Analysis
  5. Science and Spaces
  6. Environmental Justice
  7. Cold War on Canadian Soil
  8. Schwartz Gallery

Environmental History is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society.

Many thanks to:

Dr. David Brownstein, Klahanie Research Ltd. (http://www.klahanieresearch.ca/)

NiCHE (http://niche-canada.org/)

Oxford University Press (oup.com)

National Film Board of Canada (https://www.nfb.ca/)

American Society for Environmental History (aseh.net)

Forest History Society (foresthistory.org)