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Cut down one - plant ten

HI4355 Soviet Environmental History

Module Organiser: Dr Katja Bruisch
Duration: All Year
Contact hours: 2 hours per fortnight
Weighting: 10 ECTS
Assessment: 100% Coursework

The Soviet Union is often associated with wasteful resource use, high levels of pollution and ecological disaster, such as the Chernobyl catastrophe from 1986. Mobilizing the natural environment for ambitious industrialization programs was crucial for the Soviet government. The ruthless exploitation of natural resources, often with the help of forced labour, was an important feature of the Soviet planned economy. At the same time, some of the most progressive environmental laws were issued under Soviet rule, while Soviet scientists were involved in internationally coordinated efforts to protect the natural environment. How can we explain this contradiction? Did Soviet power create specific Soviet environments? Was Soviet environmentalism different? How did citizens react to increasing pollution and destruction of ecosystems for the sake of the Soviet economy? In this course, we will look at recent debates in the field of Soviet environmental history to understand what was the place of the Soviet Union in a global picture of nature transformation in the 20th century.