Undergraduate Humanities (Cultural Studies, Literature, History) teacher, you can use this lesson plan to teach critical analysis of a comprehensive text in climate literature.
Dipesh Chakrabarty, a Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages, Civilizations and Law, at the University of Chicago, authored a seminal essay, ‘The Climate of History: Four Theses’ in 2009. This lesson plan will enable your students to critically analyze this text and acquaint themselves with the field of environmental history.
The use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Humanities (Cultural Studies, Literature, History).
This is a teacher-contributed lesson plan by Dr Maya Dodd, FLAME University, Pune, India.
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Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- How does the crisis of climate change spell the collapse of the distinction between Natural History and Human History?
- What is the idea of the Anthropocene and how does it qualify humanist theories of freedom?
- How do you reconcile the global histories of capital and the species history of humans in the Anthropocene?
- How does climate change challenge our understanding of the human universal or collectivity?
About Lesson Plan
|Discipline||Humanities (Cultural Studies, Literature, History)|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Human History, Environmental History,
Natural History, Anthropocene, History of Capital,
|Climate Topic||Climate and the Anthroposphere
Policies, Politics and Environmental Governance
Introduction to Climate Change
|Access||Online, some resources are available offline|
|An essay that discusses the idea that the discipline of history to date has not adequately addressed the environmental history of the planet.|
|A video micro-lecture that summarizes the key points of the four theses discussed in the above-mentioned essay.|
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Topic introduction and discussion
- Begin your classroom session by introducing Dipesh Chakrabarty, the author of the essay ‘The Climate of History: Four Theses’, the text to be critically analyzed.
- Then ask your students to read the introduction to the essay.
- Discuss the questions raised by the author about the environmental history of the planet reported to date using the following points:
- Why the discipline of history itself is unable to capture what is significantly different about what is called the Anthropocene
- Definition of Anthropocene and how humans have become geological agents
- The same faculty that allows us to picture the past also allows us to imagine the future
- Now direct your students to read the essay closely.
- At the end of every section, discuss the over-arching arguments presented by the author.
Go to the essay 'The Climate of History: Four Theses’
Step 2: Extend understanding and summarize the key points of the essay
- Play the video micro-lecture, 'A Commentary on ‘The Climate of History: Four theses' by Dr Maya Dodd, FLAME University, India to focus your students’ attention on the key points/arguments presented by the author of the essay.
- Pause the video micro-lecture at will to allow your students to re-visit the text and to extend their understanding of the essay through a classroom discussion using the following points:
- Thesis 1 The distinction between natural and human history is a distinction that has to be dropped in this new era
- The assumption was that all history was the history of human affairs but we (humans) are now a part of the environment and this collapse that separated the natural from the man-made worlds requires a unity now in order to fully understand what the Anthropocene era entails.
- Thesis 2 talks about the emergence of humans as a geological force and how this “severely qualifies humanist histories of modernity/ globalization”
- Has human freedom been placed under a cloud in the era of the Anthropocene?
- Thesis 3 The Anthropocene requires us to put global histories of capital in conversation with the species history of humans
- The argument that we must mix these two histories comes from the fact that capitalism has also always changed but this is also to be seen as a species history. In modernity and early modernity and history needs to be viewed not in this short time frame and to think in species terms changes the way in which the discipline itself functions.
- In the fourth thesis we can probe the limits of historical understanding by the cross hatching of species history and capital history.
Go to the video micro-lecture, 'A Commentary on ‘The Climate of History: Four theses'