Alan T Wood
B CUSP 173
Explores world history from the Enlightenment periods of the Eighteenth century to the present. Investigates the interaction of different peoples with their social and natural environments.
This course provides a global perspective on the history of the human community—from 1500-2000. It will focus on those attributes of par-ticular civilizations that led to their success, and those that led to their ultimate failure. It will also identify patterns of interaction and categories of analysis that are apparent only when looking at the human experience from a global perspective, much as a map of the world reveals relationships that are hidden when looking only at maps of individual coun-tries. 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.
Student learning goals
To use systems thinking to understand the complexity of the world around us.
To enhance your ability to think critically by focusing on practical problems.
To enhance your leadership and collaboration skills, and to broaden your reservoir of wisdom and judgment by focusing on both the successes and failures of human civilizations.
To improve your ability to express yourself effectively in both oral and written form.
To improve your skills in interdisciplinary research.
To introduce you to a greater understanding of the historical and global dimensions of the modern world.
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.
There are no prerequisites for the class.
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).