UN3712: African Climate and History | J. Smerdon, R. Stephens

Undergraduate Seminar
Th 2:10-4PM

This course examines how Africa’s climate has changed in the past and with what consequences for the people living on the continent. It looks at the scope, duration and intensity of past climate events and their impacts, while using these historical climate events to teach fundamental climate concepts.  Central to the course is the human experience of these events and the diversity of their responses. The major question underpinning this course is, therefore, how have people responded to past climate events, whether short-term, decadal or longer in scope? This question is predicated on the complexity of human society and moves away from the binary of collapse vs. resilience that dominates much thinking about the impact of climate changes on past societies. This framing recognizes the significance of climate for food production and collection, as well as trade and cosmologies. It does not take climate to be the determining factor in history. Rather it foregrounds the myriad ways people acted in the face of, for example, multi-decadal below average rainfall or long periods of more reliable precipitation.

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