Alan T Wood
B CUSP 171
Situates human history within broadest possible context - from beginning of the universe, through early earth history and the origin and evolution of earth's biomass and the human species to the development of the great classical societies of China, India, Persia, and the Mediterranean.
The course will focus on origins, specifically the origins of the universe and life on Earth; human origins and global migration; the origins of language and religion; the origins of the arts and technology; the origins of trade and of the domestication of animals and plants; the origins of cities, states, and empires; the origins of early cultures in Africa and the Middle East; the origins of early cultures in South and Southeast Asia; and the origins of early cultures in East Asia. It will be followed in winter quarter by World History II from 500 B.C. to A.D. 1500, and in spring quarter by World History III from 1500-2000. It will use systems and ecological thinking—which focuses on the interconnectedness of the parts of a complex whole—as the principal category of analysis. It rests on the assumption that there exists an essential unity between the natural order and the human order, and that to understand fully the connections between the two one must understand how they came into existence, and how the overall laws by which they are governed operate.
Student learning goals
To use systems thinking to understand the complexity of the world around us.
To enhance your ability to think critically.
To enhance leadership and collaboration skills.
To improve your writing and speaking.
To improve your skills in interdisciplinary research.
To introduce you to greater understanding of hunan civilzaion.
General method of instruction
Lecture material will be delivered in writing and/or audio podcasts—instead of in the classroom. The time normally spent in the classroom will instead be devoted to Oxford/Cambridge-style tutorial sessions meeting in the professor’s office and lasting approximately 45 minutes. Students will be divided into groups of 5-6 students in each group. Each group will meet with the professor in one of the 45-minute time blocks during the time when the class is normally scheduled. This arrangement means that each student, instead of coming to a typical classroom for a total of 4 hours each week, comes to the instructor’s office for 45 minutes each week. Another model for this kind of learning is the graduate seminar that normally meets once a week. There are two reasons to adopt this method: 1) students learn more by engaging actively in small-group discussions than by listening passively to a lecture in a large classroom, and 2) through one-on-one conversations, the instructor can get a much better sense of what is being learned and what is not being learned by each individual student.
No prerequisites are necessary.
Class assignments and grading
The final grade will be based on participation—in a way that demonstrates you have read the assigned readings and prepared for class—in tutorial sessions (25 percent), discussion board assignments and tutorial session quizzes (total of 25 percent), a research project that includes several stages of drafts (25 percent), and a final exam (25 percent).