Nature and Society
The Nature and Society theme looks at human culture in relation to the biosphere. It considers how humans and natural environments have interacted and reshaped each other in the past. It studies the ecological and environmental niches where humans have succeeded and failed and the reasons for these successes and failures. It is concerned with how humans have altered the environments of the places they have inhabited through irrigation systems, agricultural and pastoral practices, and industry; and it studies the social, political and technological systems that have sustained these economic activities. Nature and Society asks such questions as: How has the natural environment influenced human actions, decisions, and cultural and social development? How have people perceived or imagined the natural world? How have they reshaped and even reordered the natural environment? How have they struggled with each other over ways the environment should be treated and understood? And what have been the intended and unintended consequences of their actions?
The Nature and Society theme also studies how weather patterns and climate changes have affected the development of cultures. It looks at the history of foods and at the social systems and cultural practices that have developed around the domestication and production of foodstuffs. It sees globalization in terms of the spread of biotas and pathogens as well as the spread of social and political systems. It incorporates parasites and diseases into history, and looks at the religious, political and medical systems that humans have designed to control and manage disease. Finally, as cultural and intellectual history, it examines how different cultures have understood nature and their relationship to nature.