Kathryn Morse

Professor of History and Department Chair, and John C. Elder Professor in Environmental Studies
American Environmental History and American Western History

Phone: work802.443.2436
Office Hours: Fall 2014: Mondays 1:30 - 4:00 pm and Fridays 1:30 - 4:00 pm (except 9/12,10/10,11/7), or by appointment
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Kathryn Morse was educated at Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and at Yale University, Utah State University, and the University of Washington.  She teaches courses in United States history, with particular focus on the history of the American West, and United States Environmental History.  She also teaches courses in the Program in Environmental Studies, for which she served as director from 2008 - 2011.  Her first book, The Nature of Gold:  An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush, was published in 2003 and she is currently working on an illustrated environmental history of the United States.

For more information, see: http://community.middlebury.edu/~kmorse or



The Nature of Gold:  An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush (Seattle:  University of Washington Press, 2003).

"Dad (and Mom) versus Nature, 1975:  Jaws and The Adventures of the Wilderness Family," in "Films Every Environmental Historian Should See," ed. Marc Cioc, Environmental History 12:2 (April 2007).

The Nature of War:  An Environmental History of Mount Independence.  Orwell, VT:  The Mount Independence Coalition, 2006.

"Wal-Mart, Homesteads, and Unintended Consequences, in "Anniversary Forum:  What Books Should Be More Widely Read in Environmental History?" ed. Adam Rome, Environmental History 10:4 (October 2005), 728-730.

Photographic Essay for "Anniversary Forum:  What's Next for Environmental History," Environmental History 10:1 (January 2005).

"Putting History at the Core:  History and Literature in Environmental Studies," History Teacher 37:1 (November 2003), 67-72.



indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

ENVS 0215 - Nature's Meanings      

Topic determined by the instructor - please refer to the section.


Spring 2012, Fall 2014

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ENVS 0401 - Environmental Studies Sr Sem      

Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
A single environmental topic will be explored through reading, discussion, and individual research. Topics will vary from semester to semester, but will focus on issues with relevance to the local region and with interdisciplinary dimensions, such as temperate forests, lake ecosystems, or public lands policy. The class involves extensive reading, student-led discussions, and a collaborative research project. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, and GEOG 0120) 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. lab

Spring 2011, Fall 2011

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ENVS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
A one- or two-semester research project on a topic that relates to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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ENVS 0700 - ES Senior Honors Work      

Senior Honors Work
The final semester of a multi-semester research project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 only once. (Previous work would have been conducted as one or two semesters of an ENVS 0500 Independent Study project.) The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member, will result in a substantial piece of writing, and will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120, and ENVS 0500; Approval only)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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FYSE 1378 - American Environmentalism      

American Environmentalism in the 1970s
Modern environmentalism in the United States emerged as a political and cultural force in the 1960s and 1970s. In this seminar we will examine its historical roots and emergence in American life through readings of primary documents and texts, including popular media, photographs, advertisements, and films. We will pay particular attention to media portrayals of the environment in crisis and to criticisms of environmentalism for its failures to address issues of social inequality, particularly those of class and race. Student work will include essays, oral presentations, and independent and group research projects. 3 hrs. sem.


Fall 2012

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HIST 0216 / AMST 0216 - Hist of American West      

History of the American West
This is a survey of the history of the trans-Mississippi West from colonial contact through the 1980s. It explores how that region became known and understood as the West, and its role and meaning in United States history as a whole. The central themes of this course are conquest and its legacy, especially with regard to the role of the U.S. federal government in the West; human interactions with and perceptions of landscape and environment; social contests among different groups for a right to western resources and over the meanings of western identity; and the role of the West in American popular culture. (formerly HIST/AMST 0374) 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.


Spring 2012, Spring 2013

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HIST 0222 - Intro To Environmental History      

Introduction to Environmental History
This introduction to the history of human interactions with the physical environment focuses on case studies, including European settlement of the New World, industrialization, fire, warfare, and the modern environmental movement, both in the United States and beyond its borders. In this course we will explore several themes, including the consequences of European expansion for human communities and their environments; shifting understandings of nature; cities and their hinterlands as different ways that humans organize nature; and class and race as factors in the human experience of nature and of environmentalism.


Fall 2012, Spring 2015

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HIST 0406 - Rdgs Modern European History      

Readings in Modern European History: Enlightenment, Revolution, and Terror*
The French Revolution provided a model for democratic political reform throughout the world, spreading new ideas about equality, national identity, and rights for minorities. Although informed by the Enlightenment and progressive social thought, it led to the Terror, a period of violence and repression in the name of revolutionary change. We will examine this attempt to create a just society and the corresponding violence against internal and external enemies. We will also consider the Revolution’s origins, the events in France, the shock tremors throughout the world, and the long-term repercussions of change. (formerly HIST 0401) 3 hrs. sem.


Spring 2011

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HIST 0411 - Rdgs Amer HI: Environmental HI      

Readings in American History: American Environmental History
Although the U.S. has long been thought "nature's nation," scholars have only begun to include the study of human interactions with nature in their study of the American past. This course will examine the history of interactions between human beings and their physical environments in North America, through readings that bring plants, animals, climates, and landscapes as well as human culture, politics, labor, race, and gender into histories of settlement, capitalism, urbanization, region, science, and policy. Readings will also trace the emergence of this new field, and the problems inherent in creating a more inclusive account of the past. 3 hrs sem. (formerly HIST 0406)


Spring 2013

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HIST 0500 - Special Research Projects      

Special research projects during the junior year may be used to fulfill the research seminar requirements in some cases. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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HIST 0600 - History Research Seminar      

History Research Seminar
All history majors who have not taken a writing and research seminar are required to take HIST 0600 in their junior fall or, if abroad at that time, their senior fall semester. In this course, students will conceive, research, and write a work of history based on primary source material to the degree possible. After reading and discussion on historical methods and research strategies, students will pursue a paper topic as approved by the course professors. HIST 0600 is also open to International Studies and Environmental Studies majors with a disciplinary focus in history. 3 hr. sem

Fall 2014

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HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

The History Senior Thesis is required of all majors. It is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. The project is generally begun in the fall and completed during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring, and such students must still attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops that take place in fall and winter.

Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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INDE 0800 - Ind Scholar Thesis      

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013

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WAGS 0700 - Senior Essay      

Senior Essay
(Approval Required)

Spring 2012

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