History and Philosophy Of Science | Environmental History
X223 | 23239 | James Capshew

Landscapes of Learning: Environmental History of Indiana University

Instructor: James H. Capshew

This course explores the multifaceted ways the Bloomington campus in
Indiana University – as a physical, social, and cultural space – has
continually shaped the learning environment at the university.

Since 1883, when Indiana University purchased 20 acres of woodland
from Moses Dunn and moved the campus from its original site, the
campus has been a growing, dynamic locus of learning. After nearly
125 years, the territory of IUB’s campus covers 2,000 acres of land –
close to 3.5 square miles of Bloomington. The campus embodies the
university in its structures and symbols, containing limestone
buildings, carvings, and inscriptions, along with woods, fields, and
other green-spaces, and the pathways and roads connecting them.

Its beauty serves more than as a source of esthetic enjoyment. The
very physicality of the campus provides a “cultural glue” to attract
and fix the loyalties of its academic community and a social setting
where university norms, rituals, and customs are enacted. Through
generations, the campus has been "culturally instructive,
introducing the individual to the rich set of information, values,
principles, and experiences which art, landscape architecture, and
architecture are capable of embodying." Countless encounters with
knowledge and its transmission and transformation have taken place
here on this campus, leaving behind fertile sediments of texts,
stories, and images to explore and interpret.

Understanding how and why natural and cultural processes produced
today’s campus is the overall goal of this course. Students will
develop their ability to see the campus as a special place where
change happens, to learn to think like an historian, and to act as a
concerned citizen of both Indiana University and the planet.