An Ecological History of Humanity

Subject UNIB10003 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two 1-hour lectures and a 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8 hours each week.
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: No specific background knowledge is required for this subject.
Non Allowed Subjects: 136-175 The Ecological History of Humankind
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website :


Prof Janet Mccalman


Professor Janet Mccalman

Subject Overview:

An Ecological History of Humanity or "How we got to where we are", journeys through 150,000 years of human experience: climate change, the great migrations, health and disease, famine and plenty, war and peace, scientific and technological advance - to conclude in our own times. This story concentrates on the deep history of human societies and their needs for food, shelter and reproduction, and of our quests for love, meaning and power. It explores key transitions: the emergence of farming and complex societies, the rise and fall of empires, calamities such as the Black Death and the micro and macro-biological conquests of the Americas and Australia, El Nino, holocausts and the long cycles of global cooling and warming, the fossil fuel revolution and the urbanization of the world. Taught by a geographer, a zoologist, a microbiologist and an historian, it is an interdisciplinary exploration of our complex relationships with the environment past and present, with other organisms, and with each other.


Students who successfully complete this subject will have:

  • examined critically, synthesised and evaluated knowledge across a broad range of disciplines
  • expanded their analytical and cognitive skills through learning experiences in diverse subjects
  • the capacity to participate fully in collaborative learning and to confront unfamiliar problems

Two (2) tutorial papers of 500 words each, due 3 days before relevant tutorial (20%) One research report of 2000 words due during the examination period (50%) A one-hour (60 minutes) reflective essay class test in the last week of semester (20%) Tutorial attendance and participation (10%)

Prescribed Texts: Clive Ponting A New Green History of the World (Penguin Books or Viking)
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will develop skills

  • in precis, abstract extraction and analytic note-taking
  • in structuring knowledge
  • in interdisciplinary group work
  • and a development of "literacies" in a range of disciplines across the physical and social sciences
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Cross Cultural Communication

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