At its core, this course examines the intersection of American history and the natural world, following a classic definition of environmental history as the interaction between humans and the environment in the past. Specifically, this course examines the historical development of America's national parks, analyzing how a truly American idea of national parks as idealized nature?what Wallace Stegner once called "America's best idea"?led to preservation efforts all over the country and throughout time. In addition to studying the historical development of national parks, this course will also use national parks as lens for studying important themes in American history. Like microhistory, national park history allows historians to "ask large questions in small places." This course asks large questions in green places. This course examines some important themes in American history, including: assessing the idea of American exceptionalism (including nationalism and imperialism, but also American anxiety), changing definitions of economic progress, the rise of federal political power, the development of identity (including American identity, gender, ethnic, race, etc), and American conceptions of the environmental world. Cross-listed with ENV 165. Requirement Designation: Understanding the Past.