Some students have e-mailed us and asked us some questions about the main examination assignment, the article assignment. We are continually aiming to improve the course, so we really value the students opinions.
Here is some answers that we think might be useful to everyone:
In Ponting's book, he presents many small processes in environmental history, within and beside the "mega-process" of collapse. Berg and in particular Radkau have many examples of smaller processes. The online course material has also contained many different examples, and you'll find more in the material you've yet to familirize yourself with.
What we mean with a process in environmental history is a way of explaining and conceptualizing a historical change which relates to the environment. I realize this may sound rather vague, maybe the following examples help:
A process in environmental history can be very small or very large. You can for example limit your article by choosing a certain geographical area, or a certain time period. A slim example would be writing about about gendered water-usage in Iceland during the 1500s. A larger example could be writing about erosion in Africa through history. The latter example might of course be too large for such a relatively short article, but it could be narrowed down by for example writing about how erosion has been viewed through history or at a certain time, or at a certain place. Another example could be writing about the use of chemicals in industry and how this has affected different classes in society and the environment in a certain place. The changes in agriculture from poly- to monocultures is another example of a environmental process in history.
The historical environmental processes need only relate to, or contribute to, a society's functioning in its emergence or decline. We're not asking for a huge essay on one big process which can "explain" said emergence or decline.
The assignment is to then take the environmental process that you choose to write about and relate it to a contemporary sustainability challenge we face today.
Hope this clarifies things, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us if anyone of you have any questions!
Sara and Karin