World History I

Course NameWorld History I
Course CodeHIS103
DescriptionThis course is primarily an overview of Ancient Civilizations from approximately 3500 BC to AD 1500. It includes the civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Ancient and Medieval India, Ancient and Medieval China, the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, the rise of Christianity and Islam, the Eurasian world in the Middle Ages, and finally, a brief overview of Native American Civilizations from their earliest appearance to the arrival of Columbus in 1492. This “World History” course is conceived as an opportunity to restore balance to educational systems that have traditionally emphasized the history of “western civilization” and largely ignored the history of other regions. Thus, the emphasis is on “non-western” civilization, although “western” civilization (of course a part of “world history) is not ignored. This course focuses more on comparison of civilizations than contrast. While differences between human civilizations are striking and important, the amount of similarity, and the ability of all humans to adapt to, learn from, and modify new cultures is also significant. Therefore, the class tries to focus on universal themes, such as the development of writing, the spread of “universal” languages, political ideals of global significance, imperial systems and their management, philosophies and ideologies, and the development of major religious systems and the unifying cultures they helped to create. The class critically analyses the notion a historical “clash” between mutually antagonistic civilizations. The course looks at ways in which humans have sought to organize and unify themselves. It searches more for similarities and integration than for sensational “exoticism” and remote otherness (although there is much that is intriguing and surprising!). Rather than presuming perpetual antagonism and a simple “oppression” and “victimization” scheme, the course emphasizes cultural negotiation, continual change and adaptation, syncretism, and advantageous borrowing.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Develop at least a basic reserve of specific data about World History in order to have an informed and educated conversation about it, and to have a better sense of how to find and use such information when needed;
– Be capable of recognizing, understanding, and critically analysing areas of disagreement and uncertainty in World History, and knowing what some of the major controversies are, not only recognize key areas of dispute about World History, but also understand, at least on a basic level, how historical arguments are made and how historical evidence is evaluated and used;
– Recognize and appreciate the significance of constant change in World History (in religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, political organisation, political geography, economic surroundings, demographics, and group identity);
– Understand the specific contexts for crucial developments in human culture, such as the invention of writing, the development of political ideals, the creation of systems of governance, and the main religious systems that are still significant parts of human culture;
– Critically analyse traditional notions of cultural superiority and inferiority, understand their connection to modern ideas such as “race,” and develop a broader and global understanding of culture and civilization.
SchoolSchool of Humanities & Social Sciences
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS