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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

An Unsettled Place: 400 Years of Remaking the Hudson River Landscape

Instructor(s): Rik Scarce, Sociology

How does an ecological locale—a “landscape”—become geographically, socially, and temporally special? How does a people manage to keep it that way or change it? Many regions in the United States supply answers to these questions of space, time and place, but one of the oldest and most complex sets of responses emerges from the landscape that is home to Skidmore College. In 2009 the Hudson River will have existed for 400 years in the Euro-American consciousness, which makes this a unique moment to explore the region’s landscape as a history of place-making. In this seminar, we will examine how and why both the conceptual understandings and the physical realities of the Hudson Region have changed the way the have over the past four centuries. The landscape’s ecology is its lifeblood, and we will continually return to it. Yet human societies and their ecologies co- evolve, so we must look elsewhere to tell a complete ecological story. As such, we will explore the Hudson landscape as it has evolved through art, literature, warfare, technology, and shifts in culture and laws. (Includes three required Saturday field trips.)

Course Offered