The Course: JBH471
Before 1492, no one in Europe ate tomatoes, no one in South America herded cattle, no one in Asia cooked with chili peppers, and no one in North America fell sick with influenza. The exchange of plants, animals, and microbes between the Americas and Afro-Eurasia in the wake of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage across the Atlantic forever changed the world’s histories and ecologies. In this course we will examine these changes, which created global systems and ecological challenges that continue to shape our world today.
This joint Biology-History seminar offers an engaging and interactive way to study how contacts from centuries ago continue to shape our world. We will combine the insights of historians and ecologists to understand what happened then, why it matters now, and how we can help make a better world in the future.
Students interested in this course will need to be approved for enrollment by the department and course instructors.
The Trip: Dominican Republic Winter Reading Week
Spend eight days with classmates, Professor Mairi Cowan of the Department of Historical Studies, and Professor Christoph Richter of the Biology Department observing the impacts of early modern globalization on the island of Hispaniola. Explore the Columbian Exchange in the city of Santo Domingo through touring museums like the Museo Alcázar de Colón, the oldest viceregal residence in the Americas, and historic sites like the Catedral de Santa María la Menor, one of the oldest Christian churches in the Americas. Then, during your ecological exploration, get out of the city and explore marine areas and parks. Examine how native and invasive species interact in the present-day ecosystems. Consider which species were brought intentionally and which were brought over by accident, and how both have come to shape the current system. Have the opportunity to reflect with your faculty members on the relationships between history, ecology and early modern exchange, both in your observations from the Dominican Republic and as you relate it back to your learning within the course.
- Observe and appreciate the multi-faceted and multi-directional links between historical and ecological impacts of the Columbian Exchange;
- Foster a better sense of historical and environmental stewardship;
- Connect with the history, culture, and ecology of the Dominican Republic;
- Establish connections with fellow students and your professor;
- Add international travel experience to your resume.