The Hertog Global Strategy Initiative electives are open to students in our seminar and other individuals with an interest our course topics. Current students at Columbia, visiting students (undergraduate and graduate), and postbaccalaureates are all welcome to enroll. For more information on elective admissions and enrollment, please visit the summer sessions website or contact the summer school office.

You do not need to apply through this site to take our electives. Please apply through Columbia University summer sessions.

Apply for HGSI Elective Courses >>

Session 1, May 28 – July 5

An International History of Oil and Water

Instructor: Dale Stahl
Three Credit Points
Course number: HIST S3932
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1:00-3:05 p.m.
Tuition: $4,362 (Columbia and visiting students), $4,464 (new students)

In this course we will examine the role that two critical natural resources, water and oil, have played in shaping the history of the 20th century, with special reference to the relationship between two major global powers, the United States and Britain, and countries in the Middle East. The course will examine the importance of these natural resources to issues of imperial expansion, human and national security, and environmental management. It will also engage theories about how the exploitation of natural resources structures governance, particularly as related to the concept of the “resource curse.” Ideas emanating from the writings of Michel Foucault and the discipline of environmental history will frame discussion of these topics. The course will also seek to introduce students to the craft of environmental history through a series of mini-seminars and field visits.

Session 2,  July 8 – August 16

Transforming Environments: American Environmental History

Instructor: Sara Tjossem
Four Credit Points
Course number: HIST S4504
Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-11:50 a.m.
Tuition: $5,816 (Columbia and visiting students), $5,952 (new students)

Environmental history explores the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world through time, and is an essential part of understanding our world today. As we have changed it, it has shaped our society, economy and visions of the future. By studying environmental history we will be better able to understand the roots of contemporary environmental issues and controversies such as deforestation, desertification, species loss and climate change. This historical approach includes the history of concerns about human impacts, the development of our scientific understanding of the natural environment, and efforts to address these concerns through environmental policies. This course will provide opportunities to do history by reading original materials, such as first-hand accounts of environmental problems, and to practice interpreting these materials in the light of information provided by other historians. We will conclude by sketching the evolution of some pivotal environmental policies in the United States and their impact abroad.

Broadly speaking we will explore patterns of resource use through a few dramatic historical cases.  How have human attitudes and activities worked together to reshape the American landscape over the last two centuries?  What have been the consequences of those alterations for natural and human communities alike?  What has been the role of science and technology in understanding the natural world?  Some of our topics will include the opportunities and risks of using scientific research to make claims about past environmental change; different strategies of telling environmental stories; the political history of conservation and environmentalism and the potential contributions that environmental history can make to contemporary environmental controversies and policy-making.

U.S. Foreign Relations, 1890-1990

Instructor: Michele Alacevich
Three Credit Points
Course number: HIST S3491
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00-4:10 p.m.
Tuition: $4,362 (Columbia and visiting students), $4,464 (new students)

Nearly every country feels America’s political, economic, and cultural influence. After all, the U.S. currently maintains more than 700 military bases in all corners of the globe. Many have called it the world’s last remaining empire. For good or for ill (and sometimes both), America dominates international affairs. But it has not always been this way. Nor was it inevitable.

This course explores the rise of American power since 1890. It looks at how and why the United States became a global power, why it became involved in certain wars and not others, and how it has influenced the rest of the world. Students will learn about the many factors shaping U.S. policy—not just presidents and diplomats, but also NGOs, businesses, intellectuals, and popular culture. By exploring the history of American foreign relations, students will also examine key problems of international politics—such as humanitarian intervention, global cooperation, non-state actors, and imperialism—that remain important to citizens today.

To see past classes we have offered, please see our website archive for 20102011, and 2012.