World History and Geography

he scope of this course in “world history” is sweeping.  It covers over 5000 years from the rise of River Valley Civilizations to our current times and looks at cultures from around the globe.  In order to keep this study from being merely broad and shallow, we will use a selective approach to the subject content much as language teachers teach a handful of verbs in order to teach how all verbs function.

The goal of the course is to focus on a few things:

  1. The commonalities we can find across human civilizations, among human actions, and within the reflections humans share upon the complexities of life.
  2. The circumstances that give rise to cultures and civilizations.
  3. Some significant moments in human history.
  4. Larger questions about human nature, human action, and human society.

The content of the course will be divided into three main groups.

  1. factual content (geography, chronology, significant movements and events)
  2. accounts of major civilizations and crucial events
  3. primary sources (myths, laws, descriptions, letters, and speeches)

The course will be divided into 6 units, each reflecting on one of 6 periods of the human story:

  • River Valley Civilizations 3500-1000 BC
  • The Classical Period 1000 BC-450 AD
  • Social Orders and Conquests 450-1450
  • Early Modern Period 1450-1750
  • The Long Nineteenth Century 1800
  • Contemporary Period 1914-Present

In each geographical and chronological settings, we will distinguish between tribes, cities, nations, and empires as we watch groups of the human family respond to blessings and challenges of their circumstances.

During our studies, we will reflect on some larger questions about human life: Do we share a common nature? Are our thoughts and actions determined by our circumstances? Do we have freedom of will? Why do we intuit “the gods” and eternity?  What makes us love and seek out our fellow humans?  Why do we make war?  These and other real questions will be addressed both in classroom discussion and in student papers.