Modern World History
This course surveys major developments in world history from the 15th century to the present, roughly the eras that historians call “early modern” and “modern.” Many fundamental aspects of human life have changed over the course of the last 600 years, from how we sustain ourselves to how we perceive the world and our place in it; from how we relate to one another and structure our societies to how we employ technology in our daily lives. We’ll look to trace the origins of these changes and understand what they have meant for human societies. In addition to this theme of how the world became modern and what that has meant, a second guiding theme of the course is convergence. Over the last 600 years, several culturally distinct regional “worlds” came into contact with one another, increasingly interacting through mutually beneficial trade and cultural exchanges but also through imperialism, exploitation, war and genocide. We’ll try to understand what this global convergence has meant for different regions and peoples, and to chart important steps in the creation of a truly globalized world. This is a legacy we must understand in order to face the challenges of today with knowledge, compassion and action.