Author: Richard B. Simon
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2014-12-23
Big History is a new field on a grand scale: it tells the story of the universe over time through a diverse range of disciplines that spans cosmology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and archaeology, thereby reconciling traditional human history with environmental geography and natural history. Weaving the myriad threads of evidence-based human knowledge into a master narrative that stretches from the beginning of the universe to the present, the Big History framework helps students make sense of their studies in all disciplines by illuminating the structures that underlie the universe and the connections among them. Teaching Big History is a powerful analytic and pedagogical resource, and serves as a comprehensive guide for teaching Big History, as well for sharing ideas about the subject and planning a curriculum around it. Readers are also given helpful advice about the administrative and organizational challenges of instituting a general education program constructed around Big History. The book includes teaching materials, examples, and detailed sample exercises. This book is also an engaging first-hand account of how a group of professors built an entire Big History general education curriculum for first-year students, demonstrating how this thoughtful integration of disciplines exemplifies liberal education at its best and illustrating how teaching and learning this incredible story can be transformative for professors and students alike.
Author: Cynthia Stokes Brown
Publisher: New Press/ORIM
Release Date: 2012-11-06
Extend the human story backward for the five thousand years of recorded history and it covers no more than a millionth of a lifetime of the Earth. Yet how do we humans take stock of the history of our planet, and our own place within it? A “vast historical mosaic” (Publishers Weekly) rendered engaging and accessible, Big History interweaves different disciplines of knowledge to offer an all-encompassing account of history on Earth. Since its publication, Cynthia Brown’s “world history on a grand scale” (Kirkus) has been translated into nine languages and has helped propel the “big history” concept to viral status. This new edition of Brown’s seminal work is more relevant today than ever before, as we increasingly must grapple with accelerating rates of change and, ultimately, the legacy we will bequeath to future generations. Here is a pathbreaking portrait of our world, from the birth of the universe from a single point the size of an atom to life on a twenty-first-century planet inhabited by 7 billion people.
Author: Mary Jo Maynes
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2012-06-14
Genre: Social Science
People have always lived in families, but what that means has varied dramatically across time and cultures. The family is not a "natural" phenomenon but an institution with a dynamic history stretching 10,000 years into the past. Mary Jo Maynes and Ann Waltner tell the story of this fundamental unit from the beginnings of domestication and human settlement. They consider the codification of rules governing marriage in societies around the ancient world, the changing conceptions of family wrought by the heightened pace of colonialism and globalization in the modern world, and how state policies shape families today. The authors illustrate ways in which differences in gender and generation have affected family relations over the millennia. Cooperation between family members--by birth or marriage--has driven expansions of power and fusions of culture in times and places as different as ancient Mesopotamia, where kings' daughters became priestesses who mediated among the various cultures and religions of their fathers' kingdom, and sixteenth-century Mexico, in which alliances between Spanish men and indigenous women variously allowed for consolidation of colonial power or empowered resistance to colonial rule. But family discord has also driven - and been driven by - historical events such as China's 1919 May Fourth Movement, in which young people seeking an end to patriarchal authority were key participants. Maynes's and Waltner's view of the family as a force of history brings to light processes of human development and patterns of social life and allows for new insights into the human past and present.
Author: Daniel Lord Smail
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2007-11-15
When does history begin? What characterizes it? This brilliant and beautifully written book dissolves the logic of a beginning based on writing, civilization, or historical consciousness and offers a model for a history that escapes the continuing grip of the Judeo-Christian time frame. Daniel Lord Smail argues that in the wake of the Decade of the Brain and the best-selling historical work of scientists like Jared Diamond, the time has come for fundamentally new ways of thinking about our past. He shows how recent work in evolution and paleohistory makes it possible to join the deep past with the recent past and abandon, once and for all, the idea of prehistory. Making an enormous literature accessible to the general reader, he lays out a bold new case for bringing neuroscience and neurobiology into the realm of history.
Author: Andrew C. Isenberg
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2014-09-18
The field of environmental history emerged just decades ago but has established itself as one of the most innovative and important new approaches to history, one that bridges the human and natural world, the humanities and the sciences. With the current trend towards internationalizing history, environmental history is perhaps the quintessential approach to studying subjects outside the nation-state model, with pollution, global warming, and other issues affecting the earth not stopping at national borders. With 25 essays, this Handbook is global in scope and innovative in organization, looking at the field thematically through such categories as climate, disease, oceans, the body, energy, consumerism, and international relations.
Author: Eelco Runia
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2014-05-06
Historians go to great lengths to avoid confronting discontinuity, searching for explanations as to why such events as the fall of the Berlin Wall, George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, and the introduction of the euro logically develop from what came before. Moved by the Past radically breaks with this tradition of predating the past, incites us to fully acknowledge the discontinuous nature of discontinuities, and proposes to use the fact that history is propelled by unforeseeable leaps and bounds as a starting point for a truly evolutionary conception of history. Integrating research from a variety of disciplines, Eelco Runia identifies two modes of being "moved by the past": regressive and revolutionary. In the regressive mode, the past may either overwhelm us—as in nostalgia—or provoke us to act out what we believe to be solidly dead. When we are moved by the past in a revolutionary sense, we may be said to embody history: we burn our bridges behind us and create accomplished facts we have no choice but to live up to. In the final thesis of Moved by the Past, humans energize their own evolution by habitually creating situations ("catastrophes" or sublime historical events) that put a premium on mutations. This book therefore illuminates how every now and then we chase ourselves away from what we were and force ourselves to become what we are. Proposing a simple yet radical change in perspective, Runia profoundly reorients how we think and theorize about history.
Author: Mark Fiege
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Release Date: 2012-03-20
In the dramatic narratives that comprise The Republic of Nature, Mark Fiege reframes the canonical account of American history based on the simple but radical premise that nothing in the nation's past can be considered apart from the natural circumstances in which it occurred. Revisiting historical icons so familiar that schoolchildren learn to take them for granted, he makes surprising connections that enable readers to see old stories in a new light. Among the historical moments revisited here, a revolutionary nation arises from its environment and struggles to reconcile the diversity of its people with the claim that nature is the source of liberty. Abraham Lincoln, an unlettered citizen from the countryside, steers the Union through a moment of extreme peril, guided by his clear-eyed vision of nature's capacity for improvement. In Topeka, Kansas, transformations of land and life prompt a lawsuit that culminates in the momentous civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education. By focusing on materials and processes intrinsic to all things and by highlighting the nature of the United States, Fiege recovers the forgotten and overlooked ground on which so much history has unfolded. In these pages, the nation's birth and development, pain and sorrow, ideals and enduring promise come to life as never before, making a once-familiar past seem new. The Republic of Nature points to a startlingly different version of history that calls on readers to reconnect with fundamental forces that shaped the American experience. For more information, visit the author's website: http://republicofnature.com/
Author: Ian Morris
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2013-01-27
Genre: Social Science
In the last thirty years, there have been fierce debates over how civilizations develop and why the West became so powerful. The Measure of Civilization presents a brand-new way of investigating these questions and provides new tools for assessing the long-term growth of societies. Using a groundbreaking numerical index of social development that compares societies in different times and places, award-winning author Ian Morris sets forth a sweeping examination of Eastern and Western development across 15,000 years since the end of the last ice age. He offers surprising conclusions about when and why the West came to dominate the world and fresh perspectives for thinking about the twenty-first century. Adapting the United Nations' approach for measuring human development, Morris's index breaks social development into four traits--energy capture per capita, organization, information technology, and war-making capacity--and he uses archaeological, historical, and current government data to quantify patterns. Morris reveals that for 90 percent of the time since the last ice age, the world's most advanced region has been at the western end of Eurasia, but contrary to what many historians once believed, there were roughly 1,200 years--from about 550 to 1750 CE--when an East Asian region was more advanced. Only in the late eighteenth century CE, when northwest Europeans tapped into the energy trapped in fossil fuels, did the West leap ahead. Resolving some of the biggest debates in global history, The Measure of Civilization puts forth innovative tools for determining past, present, and future economic and social trends.
Author: David A. Nibert
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2013-05-07
Jared Diamond and other leading scholars have argued that the domestication of animals for food, labor, and tools of war has advanced the development of human society. But by comparing practices of animal exploitation for food and resources in different societies over time, David A. Nibert reaches a strikingly different conclusion. He finds in the domestication of animals, which he renames "domesecration," a perversion of human ethics, the development of large-scale acts of violence, disastrous patterns of destruction, and growth-curbing epidemics of infectious disease. Nibert centers his study on nomadic pastoralism and the development of commercial ranching, a practice that has been largely controlled by elite groups and expanded with the rise of capitalism. Beginning with the pastoral societies of the Eurasian steppe and continuing through to the exportation of Western, meat-centered eating habits throughout today's world, Nibert connects the domesecration of animals to violence, invasion, extermination, displacement, enslavement, repression, pandemic chronic disease, and hunger. In his view, conquest and subjugation were the results of the need to appropriate land and water to maintain large groups of animals, and the gross amassing of military power has its roots in the economic benefits of the exploitation, exchange, and sale of animals. Deadly zoonotic diseases, Nibert shows, have accompanied violent developments throughout history, laying waste to whole cities, societies, and civilizations. His most powerful insight situates the domesecration of animals as a precondition for the oppression of human populations, particularly indigenous peoples, an injustice impossible to rectify while the material interests of the elite are inextricably linked to the exploitation of animals. Nibert links domesecration to some of the most critical issues facing the world today, including the depletion of fresh water, topsoil, and oil reserves; global warming; and world hunger, and he reviews the U.S. government's military response to the inevitable crises of an overheated, hungry, resource-depleted world. Most animal-advocacy campaigns reinforce current oppressive practices, Nibert argues. Instead, he suggests reforms that challenge the legitimacy of both domesecration and capitalism.
Author: C. Dale Walton
Release Date: 2012-02-21
This book examines the role and importance of the Presidency in the formulation and conduct of US grand strategy. The text discusses US strategic history, with particular emphasis on the period from the end of the Cold War to the present day. While the United States periodically has enjoyed exceptional presidential leadership in the past, this book argues that few future presidents will meet high standards of leadership in foreign affairs. In turn, this will undermine the ability of the United States to construct and maintain a coherent grand strategy appropriate to the multipolar world of the twenty-first century. Grand Strategy and the Presidency explores the role that the holders of the presidential office have played in the past development of the United States as a great power. Drawing upon examples from history, the textual analysis is shaped around the description of the long-term strategic development of the United States. The author then considers what the events of recent decades portend for the future of US strategy and foreign policy. This book will be of interest to students of Presidential Studies, US foreign policy, Strategic Studies, and IR/Security Studies in general.
Author: James Rickards
Release Date: 2014-04-08
Genre: Business & Economics
The next financial collapse will resemble nothing in history. . . . Deciding upon the best course to follow will require comprehending a minefield of risks, while poised at a crossroads, pondering the death of the dollar. The U.S. dollar has been the global reserve currency since the end of World War II. If the dollar fails, the entire international monetary system will fail with it. But optimists have always said, in essence, that confidence in the dollar will never truly be shaken, no matter how high our national debt or how dysfunctional our government. In the last few years, however, the risks have become too big to ignore. While Washington is gridlocked, our biggest rivals—China, Russia, and the oil-producing nations of the Middle East—are doing everything possible to end U.S. monetary hegemony. The potential results: Financial warfare. Deflation. Hyperinflation. Market collapse. Chaos. James Rickards, the acclaimed author of Currency Wars, shows why money itself is now at risk and what we can all do to protect ourselves. He explains the power of converting unreliable investments into real wealth: gold, land, fine art, and other long-term stores of value.
Author: Jeremy Black
Publisher: Yale University Press
Release Date: 2014-01-14
Information is power. For more than five hundred years the success or failure of nations has been determined by a country’s ability to acquire knowledge and technical skill and transform them into strength and prosperity. Leading historian Jeremy Black approaches global history from a distinctive perspective, focusing on the relationship between information and society and demonstrating how the understanding and use of information have been the primary factors in the development and character of the modern age. Black suggests that the West’s ascension was a direct result of its institutions and social practices for acquiring, employing, and retaining information and the technology that was ultimately produced. His cogent and well-reasoned analysis looks at cartography and the hardware of communication, armaments and sea power, mercantilism and imperialism, science and astronomy, as well as bureaucracy and the management of information, linking the history of technology with the history of global power while providing important indicators for the future of our world.
Author: William M. Trently
Release Date: 2014-05-09
When scientists discover an eyewitness’s memoir and film footage of the creation and subsequent history of Earth, an opportunity presents for humans to answer the most baffling questions they have confronted. The story is told in six vignettes of excerpted material from the chronicler, a space traveler with an extended lifespan from a distant galaxy who finds herself stranded here, unable to return home. During a long walk through storms and vast spans of slow time, we witness this precarious, initially lifeless landscape fill with primitive life-forms that evolve, experience the daily routines of a group of prehumans, and behold the emergence of humans and their ensuing joyous and miserable history, with its discoveries and achievements and search for the “right way to live.” In the painting of this comprehensive portrait of the entire history of Earth, filled with an abundance of pain and kindness, we come to an awareness of an unmistakable oneness which links all that ever existed. With Big History as backdrop and ethics the foundation, this is an inspirational tale, often humorous, about the quest to find what it means to live a good life as we ascertain our fragile place in the universe.