Forest History

(updated: 31 May  2000)

The goal of Forest History will be to trace patterns of deforestation and their consequences through both time and space, from the Ancient Near East to the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the assigned readings, students will write several critical book reviews in which they address deforestation in a global context. These books will include titles concerning China, India, Brazil, England, and Japan. The geographic scope of the course will include much of the Pacific Rim as well as the shores of the Mediterranean. Our trajectory will be always toward the Pacific Northwest; all roads through space and time will lead to the Puget Sound Region. Students will integrate their readings and research into a 15-20 page paper as well as series of several shorter essays and they will prepare brief oral presentations based on this research for the whole class.

Student Research and Annoted Bibliographies from Spring 2000 Class (NEW!)

See the Course Schedule

See the Course Bibliography for details regarding the readings.

Potential Topics for papers in Forest History


Required Texts:

John Perlin, A Forest Journey:  The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization (New York, 1988; reprint, Cambridge, Mass., 1991). $17

Nancy Langston, Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares:  The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West (Seattle, 1995). $17

Writing from A to Z (Official IAS writing manual)

Cover of Wessels book image  Tom Wessels and Brian D. Cohen (Illustrator), Reading the Forested Landscape:  A Natural History of New England (Woodstorck, Vt., 1998). $25

Optional Texts:

Alice Outwater, Water:  A Natural History (New York, 1996).

Cover of Safina, Song for a Blue OceanCarl Safina, Song for the Blue Ocean:  Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas (New York, 1998).

Book CoverRobert Van Pelt, Champion Trees of Washington State (Seattle, 1996).

Arthur Kruckeberg, Natural History of Puget Sound Country (Seattle, 1991).

Ruth Kirk and Jerry N. Franklin, The Olympic Rain Forest : An Ecological Web (Seattle, 1992).

The guiding thesis of this course is that there is currently a global crisis in forest management and that this crisis touches all of us, especially those who live in the Pacific Northwest. This course will analyze the roots of the global crisis and its local consequences from a historical perspective. By basing our research on primary sources and scholarly publications we will attempt to get beyond the rhetoric and the propaganda of the forest products industry and environmentalists to see what has really happened and where we are headed. Tree huggers and loggers are equally welcome.

We will gain a first-hand appreciation of the concepts of "Old Growth" and "Tree Farm" by making two field trips to very wet, muddy, and cold forests of the Olympic Peninsula. These filed trips will be required for successful completion of this course. Students unable to attend the field trips will be given addtional writing assignments to compensate them for the missed experience.  Please arrange your schedules accordingly as no exceptions will be made. Dates of the field trips will be posted here by the first day of class.

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All materials copyright 1998-2000 Michael P. Kucher, unless otherwise noted