Technology and Nature in American History

A photo of two rows of tall concrete grain elevators with a few railroad cars.

Grain elevators dwarf a few rail cars near Amarillo, Texas. The growth of railroads and industrial-scale agriculture are among the topics covered in this class. (Photo by Jack Delano, March 1943. Courtesy of The Library of Congress Flickr Commons project.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2008



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course considers how the visual and material world of "nature" has been reshaped by industrial practices, ideologies, and institutions, particularly in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Topics include land-use patterns; the changing shape of cities and farms; the redesign of water systems; the construction of roads, dams, bridges, irrigation systems; the creation of national parks; ideas about wilderness; and the role of nature in an industrial world. From small farms to suburbia, Walden Pond to Yosemite, we will ask how technological and natural forces have interacted, and whether there is a place for nature in a technological world.


This class is based on one originally designed and taught by Prof. Deborah Fitzgerald. Her Fall 2004 version can be viewed by following the link under Archived Courses on the right side of this page.

Other Versions

Other OCW Versions

Archived versions: Question_avt logo

Related Content

Jamie Pietruska. STS.036 Technology and Nature in American History. Spring 2008. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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