When Weather Changed the Course of History

Caroline Winterer
Caroline Winterer
Stanford University

Caroline Winterer is William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies, as well as the Department Chair, at Stanford University. A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, she also is a recipient of an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution for mapping the social network of Benjamin Franklin. She is the author of several books, including American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason, and her latest, entitled Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to our Digital Era. 

Overview

Weather and climate have been shaping human history for thousands of years. Blizzards, hurricanes, droughts, dust storms, and floods: all of them have been turning points. Weather disasters seem so much bigger than we are, but they're accurate barometers for telling us about what we value as human beings. This course will examine some of these major turning points (some of them based on controversial evidence!), from the ancient world, to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, to the Dust Bowl, to Hurricane Katrina. How have weather disasters shaped human history, and what can this tell us about how we think about climate change today?

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