GU4522: Emerging City: Environmental History of New York | Z. Crossland, J. Nichols

Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
Tu 1:10-4PM

Are we living in the ‘Anthropocene’, a time period that is qualitatively different in terms of human destruction of ecosystems and effects on the planet, or are we seeing the cumulative and unevenly distributed effects of much longer-term trajectories? To assess these questions a range of different sedimentological markers have been proposed: the polluting by-products of the Industrial Revolution; the wide ranging deposition of synthetic plastics; and the distinct signature of 20th century nuclear tests. The Anthropocene debate brings together a future oriented political project to raise awareness of the accelerating rate of change to the world’s environments, and geological, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data that are used to explore the past. To understand the full implications and effects of the debates around human impact on the environment we will track the environmental history of New York City and its environs. This course for advanced undergraduate and graduate students will provide training in palaeoenvironmental and archaeological methods and data literacy, as well as offering a critical assessment of the ways in which this evidence is interpreted and brought into larger scientific and policy debates. Students will be taught to collect, analyze and combine disparate data sets from several disciplines by exploring the palaeoenvironmental history of the New York City urban area, drawing on archaeology, history and the earth and environmental sciences to do so.

Sessions at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and NYC Archaeology.

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission required.