New: I've begun teaching "Social Studies" to my own Elementary-aged children. Naturally, I'm incorporating a lot of EnvHist. And I'm posting the lesson themes and worksheets on my blog.


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Who is Dan?
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Dan Allosso is a farmer and author, currently completing a PhD in History. He specializes in American History and Global Environmental History, and is particularly interested in making history relevant to current issues and useful to regular people. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, you can reach him here.


These are the video lectures I used in my undergraduate American Environmental History class at UMass/Amherst during the Spring 2014 semester. You can view them here or choose one here and then click on the Vimeo logo on the player image below to see them full-res on Vimeo.

Please wait while the video loads to where you left off.

Chapter 1: American

Chapter 1: American "Prehistory"

Chapter 2: Recontact

Chapter 2: Recontact

Chapter 3: Colonial North America

Chapter 3: Colonial North America

Chapter 4: Westward Expansion

Chapter 4: Westward Expansion

Chapter 5: Commons, Mills, and Alienation

Chapter 5: Commons, Mills, and Alienation

Welcome and Introduction

Welcome and Introduction

Chapter 6: The Transportation Revolution

Chapter 6: The Transportation Revolution

Chapter 7: City & Country

Chapter 7: City & Country

Chapter 8: Waste and Sanitation

Chapter 8: Waste and Sanitation

Chapter 9: The Nitrogen Revolution

Chapter 9: The Nitrogen Revolution

Chapter 10: Some Thoughts About Economics

Chapter 10: Some Thoughts About Economics

Chapter 11: Environmentalists in American History

Chapter 11: Environmentalists in American History

Chapter 12: Agribusiness & Farms

Chapter 12: Agribusiness & Farms

Chapter 14: Limits to Growth

Chapter 14: Limits to Growth

Chapter 15: Food & Choice

Chapter 15: Food & Choice

Poultry Progress

Poultry Progress

Measurement vs. Choice

Measurement vs. Choice

Dan Allosso's Chicken Comparison Project

Dan Allosso's Chicken Comparison Project

Welcome

Welcome

Chapter 1: American "Prehistory"

Lecture 1 of American Environmental History, by Dan Allosso, covers the period from about 80,000 BCE to 1492 CE. We look at the original settlement of the Americas in the context of prehistoric population movement. What we normally think of as "prehistory" helps us understand what happened when Europeans and North Americans came into contact again in 1492, after nearly 20,000 years of separation.

Chapter 2: Recontact

Nearly fifteen thousand years after arriving in the Americas (in Lecture 1), North and South Americans come back into contact with their cousins, the Europeans. Contact began around 1000 CE, and reached a climax with Columbus's voyage in October 1492. this recontact began an exchange of plants, animals, and microbes that has shaped the modern world, and to a great extent, has made the modern world possible.

Chapter 3: Colonial North America

In this segment, we look past the typical Thanksgiving Day stories, to get a clearer picture of how the Indians lived in North America before European settlement, and at what happened when the Europeans arrived. From the Cod fisheries of the Grand Banks to the Dutch, French, and English colonies on the Eastern Seaboard, we discover what the Europeans expected to find, and what they did find in the New World.

Chapter 4: Westward Expansion

Colonial Americans looked West, and when Britain said "No," they declared their independence. The settling of the frontier began in the Ohio Valley and western New York, but families who moved west often kept moving. What was it like to start a new life on the frontier? What challenges did they face along the way?

Chapter 5: Commons, Mills, and Alienation

America's Industrial Revolution began in the Northeast, with water-powered textile milling. Water mills had provided power for generations, but the textile industry changed everything. Not just the scale of operations, but the way Americans understood shared resources, the common good, and social responsibility. The world of "Too-Big-to-Fail" corporatism began in 19th-century New England, and it happened under the radar through gradual changes in laws and customs, decided by businessmen and lawyers rather than votes and legislative debates.

Welcome and Introduction

What is Environmental History? What are you going to be seeing in these videos?

Chapter 6: The Transportation Revolution

Americans first used rivers to transport people and goods to and from the frontier. Steam-powered riverboats allowed them to run against the current. Then trains allowed them to go where there weren't rivers at all. These technologies caused explosive growth across the frontier and shaped the nation we now know. They also increased the power of corporations and the gifts government was able to give them.

Chapter 7: City & Country

We look at the interdependence and parallel growth of American cities and countryside. Animals, timber, and grain from the countryside became processed meat, catalog homes, and flour in cities like Cincinnati, Chicago, and Minneapolis. Rural products found national markets, but became standardized and branded, and their producers became merely raw material suppliers to large corporations. We also examine the government's forgotten role supporting the corporations with an regulations that reassured consumers and shut down local competitors.

Chapter 8: Waste and Sanitation

A brief look at the flip side of production and consumption: waste. Disposing of waste, whether it was personal or industrial, usually became a public problem rather than an individual responsibility in nineteenth-century America. And the reduction or redirection of traditional forms of organic waste set the stage for a monumental change in american agriculture.

Chapter 9: The Nitrogen Revolution

Guano, Nitrate, Ammonia. War, the Green Revolution, the Dust Bowl.

Chapter 10: Some Thoughts About Economics

After assigning some articles that were probably too dense and academic (but what economic articles AREN'T?), I decided to take a crack at it myself. So this is my twenty-minute deconstruction of Economics as the sole and infallible guide to human behavior and choosing what to do in a complex world.

Chapter 11: Environmentalists in American History

Throughout our history, there have been individuals challenging the idea that our relationship with our environment is fixed and inevitable. In this chapter we look at some of them.

Chapter 12: Agribusiness & Farms

Farmers have appeared in many of the stories we've looked at in previous chapters. Settlement, westward expansion, technology. Now we'll look at the farms themselves, how they changed and what it might mean. And then we'll look at chickens.

Chapter 14: Limits to Growth

American History has been largely about growth. But that doesn't mean people haven't wondered whether growth can go on forever or speculated on what might happen if it stopped. Malthus, the Population Bomb, Limits to Growth, Peak Oil, and Global Warming all represent challenges to the idea that the line on the graph will rise forever.

Chapter 15: Food & Choice

In the final lecture of the semester, we look at how Americans might be able to influence the way society relates to our environment.

Poultry Progress

A Gardenagerie project comparing Hybrid Commercial meat chickens to standard breeds. We're looking at cost, efficiency, and at how we feel about raising them. This is a progress report, ten weeks into the project.

Measurement vs. Choice

3 minutes of Economics, by Dan Allosso

Dan Allosso's Chicken Comparison Project

A side by side comparison following a season of raising chickens from hatchlings to slaughter, looking at the pros and cons of raising standard breed chickens for meat, versus raising Cornish Cross Hybrids like the commercial growers do. I was ideologically against the hybrids, but the experience took a surprising turn.

Welcome

Welcome to American Environmental History