WELCOME to World History!


In-Class Assignment #1:  To get accustomed to changing lenses for utilizing different historical and geographical contexts, let’s begin by reflecting on our own view of the world as it has taken shape since we were born. Even before we study world history, we have probably constructed personal views of the world over the course of our lives. Try to identify, illustrate, and then analyze the key events and experiences that have formed your view of the world over the course of your life.


1)      Individual: Think back on the first experiences you had in your life that gave you a clues that there was a WORLD out there, one in which you are a part. On a piece of paper, illustrate graphically using a timeline, or other graphic, how these events or experiences in your life formed your view of the world. Write a paragraph in which you analyze how your view of the world has changed-over-time. To what extent have factors like the mass media, movies, religions, family members, and other parts of the world influenced the formation of your view of the world? What do your findings say about the culture and region from which you are from? Turn this work in for credit and complete the following group activity if time permits.

2)      Group: Share your work with a group in class, taking notes on commonalities and differences among your group members as you share your work. Write a paragraph that describes the factors that have affected your group’s view of the world. Include consideration of commonalities and differences. To what extent have factors such as the mass media, movies, religions, and other parts of the world influenced everyone similarly and differently?

Turn in your work to me in class

Extra classroom activity: If you're in a class of thirty or so students, stand-up and form a circle around the room to form a living time-line, to represent the following significant turning points, or benchmarks. Everyone should number themselves around the circle, from one to thirty, each person representing 500 million years. Let's start moving around from person number one to the fourth person (2 billion years ago) to the formation of the first galaxies; now to the 9th person, when our galaxy formed; now to the 20th person, when our solar system, including the earth formed. The Ozone layer did not form until the 29th person, and human life only within the last half inch on the 30th person. If you magnified that last half inch across the breadth of your hand, migrations out of Africa would not occur until the last digit of your fingers, and the last 500 years, would be represented only on ends of your fingertips. Using wider views of space and time, EVERYTHING can be seen as connected and interdependent on a number of levels. 

For most of human history, people have attempted to see and understand these connections through all fields of their vision of space and time and have incorporated this knowledge into the “telling” of world history. Humans have to synthesize such data in attempt to solve the difficult problems of their era, and answer timeless questions like, “why are we here?,” “Who or what is behind this drama we call life?” In this class you’ll be challenged to use all of the fields of vision available to you to take consider issues relevant in our day. The timeframe of our survey of history makes it especially challenging because over the last five hundred years, so many new fields of vision – both scientific and cultural – have come into our view for the first time on a truly global scale. World history as a separate field of study has only taken shape during the last two decades after a century of regional based history. Fields of science like Astronomy, Geology, and Paleontology, Biology, and Anthropology have revealed contexts, or fields of vision, for understanding global processes that we are only beginning to utilize. That is, we are only now beginning to see how such perspectives of space and time can be relevant. We’ll learn to use different world historical time frames, like the Long Duree (thousands or years), the Long Term (hundreds of years), and the Current (the last few decades) like different camera lenses to bring into and out of focus details to gain new insights.


Here's your first homework assignment, which compares the different vantage points availble from different fields of science. Think of each scale of time as a different lens to look for patterns across time -- and the patterns will often provide unique answers to questions.