HIST 2910O: Special Topic in History – A History of Oil: Science, Technology, Culture & Conflict
Summer (Jul/Aug) 2021

Instructor: Ian Wereley

Introduction: In this completely online course, students will explore the history of oil from the ancient period to the present day. The course uses a transnational approach designed to introduce students to the interconnected histories of oil in countries across the world. Specifically, students will follow a series of themes as they move through the course – science, technology, culture, and conflict – which will guide their learning of the key people, places, and processes that have defined the history of oil. By the end of the course, students will have an introductory understanding of oil and the ways in which the resource has shaped both the past and the present. The goal of this asynchronous course is to equip learners from all disciplines with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about oil and its future.

Overall Learning Outcomes: By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the scientific and technological processes by which oil is formed, extracted, refined, transported, and consumed;
  • Identify the countries that have played a major role in the history of oil, and locate points of conflict and cooperation between them;
  • Analyse the images, stories, and ideas that have been used to think about oil in the past, and create linkages with those used in the present;
  • Construct an informed and well researched position on a variety of oil topics;
  • Reflect on their relationship with oil and the impact that oil products and technologies have had on their lives.

Course Structure and Navigation: This course is structured slightly differently than a traditional, in-the-classroom course.

  • There are six (6) weeks of instruction in this course, and a total of ten (10) modules that students will complete. Note: this means there are some weeks that contain two (2) modules to complete. Each module contains a series of lecture videos, a list of readings, and a knowledge check quiz. At three points throughout the course, new modules will be unlocked by students who have successfully completed their work.
  • There are three (3) discussion forums in this course, which will allow you to engage in conversation with your colleagues in small groups. There are two (2) reflection activities, which will offer you a chance to question and critique the material that you are learning.
  • There is a mid-term knowledge check (multiple choice) scheduled in the fifth week of the course, a brief end-term knowledge check (multiple choice) scheduled in the sixth week of class, and a take-home exam (short answer) to be handed in at the end of the semester.
  • Finally, students of this course will complete a scholarly document analysis of a historical oil company advertisement. This major project is broken down into two parts: Part 1 asks you to select an advertisement from a list provided for you, and to complete a rough draft of your final document analysis; Part 2 asks you to convert your rough draft into a fully-written paper (4-5 pages), in which you analyze your advertisement and pose questions about its overall meaning and significance.

Required Readings: There is no textbook for this course. All required and supplementary readings will be available online. All required videos will be made available within each module.

Assessment: Students will be evaluated through a variety of different assignments, each of which is designed to test their knowledge and strengthen their core skills in research, writing, and analysis.

Assignment/Activity Weight
Start Here – Course Introduction 2%
Check-In Survey 1%
Check-Out Survey 1%
Introduce Yourself 2%
Knowledge Check Quizzes (1% X 9) 9%
Mid-Term Knowledge Check 15%
End-Term Knowledge Check 5%
Forums (3% X 3) 9%
Reflections (3% x 2) 6%
Document Analysis Part 1 (Rough Draft) 15%
Document Analysis Part 2 (Final) 20%
Take-Home Exam 15%

If you have any questions about the course, please do not hesitate to email me: Ian_Wereley@Carleton.ca