Global change and environmental history


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Biodiversity and ecology (3rd Cycle)
Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (3rd Cycle)
Regional studies (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DI009
Year of study: without

Course principal:
Assoc. Prof. Matija Zorn, Ph.D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, seminar 30 hours, individual work 120 hours.
Course type: common elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminar, e-learning


Course syllabus (download)


Finished 2nd bologna level (masters degree) in appropriate field or equivalent program of study.


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Students get to know the importance of landscape changes in studying recent natural processes, and environmental historical methods and techniques for the study of natural disasters.
  • Students deepen the knowledge of (global) landscape changes in prehistoric and historic times as well as in modern times. They learn about the possible scenarios of future landscape changes.
  • Students get to know key global cases in which changes to the natural balance in the prehistoric and historical era led to extensive changes in the landscape.
  • Students get to know the main features of natural disasters in Slovenia in the light of environmental history. Highlighted are those natural disasters, which are important for socio-economic development of Slovenia.
  • For the case studies in geological history, prehistoric and historic era students get to know the main causes for natural disasters in Slovenia and their consequences.
  • Students get to know modern climate change and its importance to the increasing number of natural disasters. Students can critically evaluate the importance of contemporary climate change to an increasing number of natural disasters through environmental historical studies that show a high frequency of natural disasters well before modern climate change.



  • Alcantara-Ayala, I., Goudie, A. S. (ur.) 2010: Geomorphological Hazards and Disaster Prevention. Cambridge University Press.
  • Alexandrov, V., Gajdusek, M. F., Knight, C. G., Yotova, A. (ur.) 2010: Global Environmental Change: Challenges to Science and Society in Southeastern Europe. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Delort, R., Walter, F. 2002: Povijest evropskog okoliša. Zagreb: Barbat.
  • Diamond, J. M.. 2008: Propad civilizacij: kako družbe izberejo pot do uspeha ali propada. Tržič: Učila International.
  • Hughes, J. D. 2009: An Environmental History of the World: Humankind’s Changing Role in the Community of Life. London, New York: Routledge.
  • IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, 2013. UN.
  • Komac, B. 2009: Social memory and geographical memory of natural disasters. Acta geographica Slovenica 49-1, str. 199–226.
  • Ogrin, D. 2005: Spreminjanje podnebja v holocenu. Geografski vestnik 77-1, str. 57–66.
  • Ogrin, D. 2007: Severe storms and their effects in sub-Mediterranean Slovenia from the 14th to the mid-19th century. Acta geographica Slovenica 47-1, str. 7–24.
  • Petrić, H. 2008: Što je povijest okoliša? Historični seminar 6. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, str. 157–176.
  • Radkau, J. 2000: Natur und Macht: Eine Weltgeschichte der Umwelt. München: Beck.
  • Štih, P., Zwitter, Ž. (ur.) 2014: Man, Nature and Environment Between the Northern Adriatic and the Eastern Alps in Premodern Tim Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete.
  • Wignall, P. B. 2015: The Worst of Times: How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions. Princeton University Press.
  • Worster, D. 1988: The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Zwitter, Ž., Mrak, I. 2017: Postopno prilagajanje tradicionalne kulturne pokrajine pobočnim procesom: primer iz Podolševe v Karavanka. Geografski obzornik 64, 3-4, str. 40–47.


Objectives and competences:

  • Students get to know the theory, theoretical models and methodological approaches and tools for in-depth and critical understanding and research of the causes and consequences of landscape changes, with an emphasis on the causes and consequences of natural disasters;
  • Students get to know the use and application of historical sources/facts for the study of the causes, consequences and adaptation to natural disasters;
  • Students get to understand and evaluate the relationship between natural processes/natural disasters and man;
  • Students understand the need to preserve the natural dynamic balance and adapt to the new dynamic equilibrium if the old bursts;
  • Students understand of the role of man and his activity throughout history in the light of the changing landscape and its adaptation to human intervention;
  • Students recognize physical geographical and human geographical processes in the landscape, which have an impact on the causes and consequences of natural disasters;
  • Students recognize the aspects which are important for preventing and responding to natural disasters;
  • Students can critically assess spatial and regional development in the past and can plan the future development in the light of contemporary global changes.


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Students know the fundamental characteristics of landscape changes in prehistoric and historic times and the causes and indicators of these changes;
  • Students understand the consequences of landscape changes in prehistoric and historic times and can apply them to the present and the future;
  • Students are familiar with the characteristics and extent of natural disasters in prehistoric and historic time in relation to the concrete (complex) landscape realities (in space and time);
  • Students are able to evaluate the landscape in terms of natural disasters in prehistoric and historic times, understand traditional adaptation to natural disasters and are familiar with actions needed in the case of natural disasters;
  • Students understand the contemporary global (climate) change and its impact on the future frequency and magnitude of natural disasters as well as the consequences in the landscape.



Exam (70 %), written paper (30 %).