HIST 1707B: World History
Why is the world the way it is? In a sense, that is the question that is at the heart of world history. This course will start examining the world at a time when few peoples had much contact beyond the village or city where they were born. It was a time when travel was dangerous, arduous and lengthy; when most people ate the same foods as their forbears; lived and died in ways similar to those before them; daily life changed very slowly; and the peoples of the world lived in comparative isolation. This changed dramatically with the beginning of the European explorations which led to imperialism in the Americas, Asia and Africa. The very fact that Europeans embarked on such oceanic voyages is the product of cultural exchanges between Europeans, Africans and Asians: the marine technology which went into new boat design and the techniques used for navigation and weaponry, to cite a few examples, were all imported from regions beyond Europe and implemented by first the Spanish and Portuguese and then later the Dutch, English and the French. These expeditions were the product of contact between peoples and in turn they opened up the world to massive exchanges of peoples, animals, plants, pathogens, ideas, and religions, and ultimately changed the world from a place of isolation to one of multiple points of contact. World history is a way to understand how these transformations happened and the implications of these changes in making our world as it is today
Two hour lectures and one hour discussion groups.