Professor Campbell's work deals with the environmental history of North America and the history of Canada. She has taught at universities across Canada and in Denmark, in the areas of history, Canadian Studies, and Environment and Sustainability. Relating regional ecosystems to regional histories, relating Canada to the North American continent and the North Atlantic world, and relating the lessons of history to today's political and environmental debates — this is how she sees her work, in teaching and writing. Her research aims to incorporate environmental histories and environmental education into public history and historic landscapes, and explore the place of the humanities in sustainability education. 

Course Offerings 

HIST 100: Canada from 1860
An introduction to the history, politics, and culture of the northern half of North America, emphasizing the relationship between environment and national identity.

This course examines how a relatively young country has claimed, used, and represented its vast and complex territory to its citizens and to the world, with three main themes or clusters:

  • continental expansion, 
  • ideas of wilderness, 
  • and issues and concepts of the north.

For each of these clusters we will examine numerous political and cultural sources to study the evolution of a distinct Canadian imagination and Canadian state on the North American continent, next to the most powerful country in the world. The arc of the course is roughly chronological, beginning with discussions in the 1860s about the creation of a new Dominion of Canada from a series of British colonies in North America, and ending with questions of sovereignty in the Arctic.

Ultimately, the course is about understanding some aspects of Canada today through its political, cultural, and geographical pasts. But it is also about identifying ways that nature affects the development of national histories and national identities.

This course is also an introduction to the study and value of history. Here the focus is on the range of sources, whether visual, literary, archival, or material, which historians can use, and on the relationship between historical literacy and active citizenship.

HIST 213: North American Environmental History
This class introduces the practices and purposes of studying our past relationships with nature, to better understand the origins of North America's landscapes today.

"Rivers cannot change their source, only their course. Neither can we change their histories or their influence on us." — Del Barber, 2011

Environmental history asks us to consider our relationships with nature in the past: how nature has shaped human thought and human actions, and how, in turn, humans have shaped the landscapes around them. Like all history, it looks for both change and continuity. But environmental historians may focus on physical or material evidence (sites of resource extraction, patterns of settlement, the grooves of transportation routes). Or they may deal with the imaginative and ideological: how cartography, art, and science help us absorb the new and unknown in nature into competing political empires, bodies of knowledge, networks of exchange, and "sense of place." Nature and society is each actor and acted upon.

There are many ways to approach environmental history, and in this course, we will explore one of the most important features of the North American continent: its rivers. Issues range from political diplomacy and dispute to cultural representations, from settlement adaptations to industrial manipulation. Hopefully, you will take from the class new ways of thinking about both history and landscapes familiar to you.

HIST 224: Eighteenth Century North America
A course that explores how different peoples — Aboriginal, British, French, and American — claimed and fought over the environments of North America, shaping today's national borders.

This course returns to a time when the continent and waters of North America were bitterly contested by different peoples: Aboriginal, British, French, and American. It weaves together decades of wars and dispossession by focusing on the competing claims to territory and the active creation of national identities that emerge from this period. We will explore the critical role of environmental knowledge and adaptation in making these claims, through exploration and mapping, wars and dislocation, settlement and land use, and the construction of national memory and national narrative.

UNIV 200: West, Cowboys, Nature, Myth
An Integrated Perspectives class about how Canadians and Americans have approached, inhabited, and transformed the environments of western North America in history and film.

This course is a transnational comparison of western landscapes in Canada and the United States, focusing on the relationship between humans and the natural environment. How has this relationship changed over time? How has it become central to our national mythologies? How has it been represented in visual form? And what are the implications for environmental sustainability?

This course focuses on relationship between humans and the environment in terms of land use, agricultural and industrial development; the implications for sustainability; and the role of the west in national mythology. We will analyze the representation of these issues in film. Other topics include:

  • regional identity in national politics;
  • demographics of race, class, and gender , and the role especially of First Nations/Native Americans and African-Americans;
  • the social and environmental sustainability of our present systems of agriculture, water use, and resource extraction.

Current Curriculum Vitae


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