Environmental Foundations of European History

Environmental Foundations of European History

Environmental Foundations of European History

Environmental Foundations of European History

Excerpt

This book began with a request I received in 1939. It came from the group teaching Medieval and Modern European history at Harvard University. One of the renowned courses in the college, "History One," was headed by the late Professor Roger B. Merriman with the collaboration of Messrs. John M. Potter, subsequently President of Hobart College, and Paul Cram, assisted by a staff of about a dozen young scholars aflame with zeal for the tutorial conference method as a touchstone of college education. These men wanted material for outside reading, to give the class some understanding of the geography of Europe, and to serve as a springboard for conferences with the sections into which the five hundred members of the course were divided, and incidentally, in tutorial sessions with individuals.

They turned to me not only as a geographic colleague, but also because I had originally planned to follow history as a profession, and had taught it for a year, besides completing a historical dissertation. Geography had come to my attention and stirred my interest while I was in the graduate school, because it built a solid foundation beneath my historical studies. Thereafter the separation between the two subjects in the American college curriculum seemed to me unnatural and wasteful in contrast to the logical practice of French universities, where the serious student of either subject is required to study both. When the American custom of separating my two fields of study compelled me to make the hard choice between them, the center of my interest remained in the . . .

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