This course focuses on the emergence of the “global world” in the Modern Era, from the 14th through the mid-20th centuries. The class allows students to explore the “macro” implications of globalization and modernity from a broad historical perspective but without neglecting the “micro” experience of everyday life. Central to our focus are the numerous, diverse, tensions that have emerged in response to our increasingly interconnected world. For the Transatlantic Unit, students draw upon excerpts from Jared Diamond’s book and documentary series Guns, Germs, and Steel to understand how encounters between Europeans and Native Americans in the 16th century resulted in bloodshed, mass death, and conquest.
For the Early Modern Unit, students explore the transformations that allowed Europe to become the most powerful region of the world by the 17th century. For the Colonialism Unit, students assert their historical skills by answering a central “guiding” question: “Why was Great Britain able to colonize the globe in the 19th century?” For the Age of Revolutions unit, students study the radical innovations in industry, society, and politics that led to a fundamental “break” between the “early modern” and “modern” worlds. For the final Modernity Unit, students explore more closely the various innovations in thinking, living, and culture that encapsulate the modern era during the first half of the 20th century.
Coursework emphasizes the development of grade-appropriate historical skills, including the critical reading and analysis of different forms of textual and visual evidence, the articulation of ideas and opinions in oral and written communication, and the ability to connect abstract concepts with concrete historical examples. Equally important are grade-specific communication skills: presentation and public speaking, working effectively and productively on group projects, improving quality of note taking, making better contributions during class discussions, and crafting effective academic writing that is reinforced with examples and evidence.