Headlines today are full of news of global environmental disaster—from flooding in Bangladesh to forest fires in Canada, from earthquakes in Japan to hurricanes in the Caribbean. Reports evoke the image of powerful natural forces striking unsuspecting populations, leaving death and destruction in their wake. In this course, we will reckon with two conflicting assumptions embedded in these narratives: that these disasters are ‘natural’ and that today’s climate related disasters are unprecedented. We will begin by studying different logics under which humans have worried that ‘natural’ disasters might be manmade, focusing on recent scholarship that argues that social inequalities shape the impacts of disaster. Next, we study specific sciences of disaster and the imperial settings in which they developed. We will then consider the political processes by which new events have come to be recognized as natural disasters. Finally, we will analyze the politics of disaster in our changing climate.