Nature, Environment, and Empire

Black and white photo of preserved gazelles, antelopes, giraffes, and other savannah fauna, crowded together behind a low railing in a vast gallery hall.

Colonial-era explorers sent home sketches and specimens of animals and plants from around the world, fostering academic enquiry and popular interest. (Photo by JanneM on Flickr.)


MIT Course Number

21H.968J / STS.415J

As Taught In

Spring 2010



Translated Versions


Cite This Course

Course Features

Course Highlights

This course features archived syllabi from various semesters.

Course Description

This class examines the relationship between the study of natural history, both domestic and exotic, by Europeans and Americans, and exploration and exploitation of the natural world, focusing on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Other OCW Versions

Archived versions: Question_avt logo

Harriet Ritvo. 21H.968J Nature, Environment, and Empire, Spring 2010. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.