A History of Nature

Are humans becoming ever more distant from nature, including our own human nature? Have the changes in our relationship with nature over the course of human history benefitted or harmed us? Are we facing an environmental 'doomsday', or should we be more optimistic about the future?

Engraving by Edward Goodall (1795-1870) original title 'Manchester', from Kersal MoorThe relationship between humans and nature has changed dramatically over time. In this subject we chart our impact on, and relationship with, nature from hunter-gather societies to discovering the structure of atoms. It offers an overview of some of the changes in scientific understandings about our natural environment in the western world over the last 500 years. We will trace how, throughout history, different interpretations of 'nature' have shaped science and have been shaped by science in return, including topics such as taxonomy, gardening, theories of life, and the rise of environmentalism.

This subject should be of interest to students who would like to learn more about the origins of the environmental sciences, the dominance of scientific understandings of nature, and our ongoing attempts to live within a changing environment. Join Dr. John Wilkins in an intensive 10 day exploration of the history of nature. Each day there will be a two hour lecture, followed by a one hour small group discussion which will focus on the content of the lectures and the prescribed readings. No historical or philosophical background knowledge is necessary. For more information please visit the University Handbook.