Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
In the decades since the publication of Silent Spring and the rise of the environmental movement, public awareness of the impact of industrial products on human health has grown enormously. There is growing concern over BPA, lead, PCBs, asbestos, and synthetic materials that make up the world around us. This course will focus on environmental history, industrial and labor history as well as on how twentieth century consumer culture shapes popular and professional understanding of disease. Throughout the term the class will trace the historical transformation of the origins of disease through primary sources such as documents gathered in lawsuits, and medical and public health literature. Students will be asked to evaluate historical debates about the causes of modern epidemics of cancer, heart disease, lead poisoning, asbestos-related illnesses and other chronic conditions. They will also consider where responsibility for these new concerns lies, particularly as they have emerged in lawsuits. Together, we will explore the rise of modern environmental movement in the last 75 years.
Link to Vergil