HIST 102: World Civilization 1500-the Present

This course traces the development of world civilizations from approximately 1500 to the present.  It examines the creation of “modern” patterns of thought, culture, society, and politics.  Its global approach offers the student an opportunity to learn about the diversity of human social life and understand the historical convergences, divergences, and interrelations among peoples.  We are all products of this history, and, in this course, we will critically reflect on the meaning of our shared global heritage, both for us as individuals, as well as for the larger society and times in which we live.

In order to accomplish this, human actions must be situated, understood and analyzed in specific contexts.  This lays the groundwork for an historical understanding of how the cultures and civilizations were created and developed in response to specific environments and needs.  Topics include:

  • Cultures and civilizations
  • Forms of political organization
  • Forms of resistance and revolution
  • Worldviews and religions
  • Structures of economic organization
  • The arts and sciences

While this course provides an overview of world history since 1500, the purpose of the course is not to teach you all you need to know about the subject.  The primary objective of the course is to learn how to think critically about historical events and trends.  With everything you study you will be encouraged to ask, “what was the significance of this in its historical context?,” and “what is its importance today?”

Required Texts:

The following books are available at the La Verne bookstore:

  • Kevin Reilly, Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader, Volume II, Bedford/St. Martin’s
  • J.M. Blaut, The Colonizer’s Model of the World, Guilford
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Texts must be brought to class on the day they will be discussed.

General Information:

Class meetings will be grounded in discussion of the assigned texts. Readings must be completed before the class meeting in which they will be discussed. This enables students to get the most out of the lectures and to participate effectively in discussion.

Discussion: Each student will be assigned study questions to prepare for class discussion.  During these discussions, you will not be expected to have fully developed points of view about the course materials. However, you are expected to participate. No one will be penalized for being wrong or imprecise, for expressing uncertainty or frustration, or for changing their mind. But it should be clear that you are trying, that you have done the readings and are working toward a mastery of the material.

Questions: None of us, myself included, knows everything about the topics of this class. It is our responsibility to ask others who may know the answer, either in class, in office hours, or over dinner. I expect that you are learning the material, not that you know it. As much as possible, try not to be shy or embarrassed about what you don’t yet know. The biggest failure in learning any material, in college or in life, is to fail to ask questions about things you do not know.

Availability: I expect that all of you, either alone or in groups, will contact me throughout the semester. I am almost always available to discuss the course material, or other life issues. Because I maintain an “open-door” policy, you should not hesitate to stop by my office during office hours–or at other times. If you would prefer to schedule a time during non-office hours, simply contact me by phone or email and we will schedule an appropriate time.

Laptops and Cell Phones:  Laptops may not be used is class.  Cell phones must be turned off and put away during class meetings.

Evaluation Criteria:

The value of our meetings will hinge on your advance preparation and on your willingness to engage the issues actively in class.  When you are doing the readings, keep in mind that you will be expected to participate in the debates outlined in the readings, reject some positions, embrace others, and defend the choices you make.

Grades will be based on the following:

  • Study questions:  40%
  • Midterm:  20%
  • Final exam:  30%
  • Attendance and participation:  10%

Study Questions:  Once a week, students must hand in responses to an assigned set of study questions.  These responses should be between 250 and 500 words in length.  You should write down the question you are answering as well as your answer to the question.  Question sets will be assigned on the first day of class.

Exams: The midterm and the final will both be in-class exams. The midterm will pose a series of short-answer questions based on the course materials and lectures.  The final will do the same and will also ask you to choose one of two essay questions.  You will be asked to write an essay on one of the broad themes discussed in the course.

Attendance and Participation:  This grade will be measured based on attendance and preparedness (i.e. whether students are prepared to discuss the reading).  Students who miss more than three classes will automatically suffer a deduction of one-third of a grade (e.g. a B+ becomes a B).  Students who miss more than six classes will suffer a full grade deduction (e.g. a B+ becomes a C+).

Schedule of Meetings and Required Readings (Sources can be found in Worlds of History.):

Aug. 28  Introduction

Aug. 30  Overseas Expansion in the early Modern Period, China and Europe, 1400-1600

  • Source 15.1 _MF, AL, DL, LG, JK __________________________________
  • Source 15.2_AG, LMar, CL, HT, __________________________________
  • Source 15.3_EM, LT, AB, EA, SD, __________________________________
  • Blaut, pp. 1-17
    • What is “Eurocentric diffusionsm?”
    • How does Eurocentric diffusionism view colonialism?
    • Which cam first, European colonialism or European development?
    • What are the main tenets of uropean diffusionism?
    • What is the “myth of emptiness?”

Sept 4  Overseas Expansion in the early Modern Period, China and Europe, 1400-1600 (cont’d)

  • Source 15.4___WW, GD, IS, RM, SC, BC, SH, DM_______________________________
  • Source 15.5__SL, TS, CE, LMach, RP, GC, HD_________________________________
  • Blaut, pp. 17-43
    • How have notions of European superiority evolved?
    • What is the ethnographic study of ideas?
    • What would a non-diffusionist theory be?

Sept. 6  Atlantic World Encounters: Europeans, Americans, and Africans, 1500-1850

  • Source16.1___EA, AB, BC, SD________________________________
  • Source 16.2__HD, MF, LG, SH_________________________________
  • Source 16.3__AL, CL, SL, LMac_________________________________
  • Source 16.4__RM, EM, IS, TS_________________________________

Sept. 11  Atlantic World Encounters: Europeans, Americans, and Africans, 1500-1850 (cont’d)

  • Source 16.5___HT, WW, AA, SC________________________________
  • Source 16.6___GC, GD, CE, AG________________________________
  • Source 16.7___JK, DL, AL, LMar________________________________
  • Source 16.8___DM, RP, MS, LT________________________________

Sept. 13  State and Religion:  Asian, Islamic, and Christian States, 1500-1800

  • Source 17.1___EA, HD, AL, RM, SC________________________________
  • Source 17.2___HT, GC, JK, DM, AG________________________________
  • Source 17.3___AB, MF, CL, EM, LMar________________________________’
  • Blaut, pp. 50-52, 94-102
    • What is the European miracle?
    • Does European superiority explain colonialism or is it a consequence of colonialism?
    • How does the myth of rationality persist?

Sept. 18  State and Religion:  Asian, Islamic, and Christian States, 1500-1800 (cont’d)

  • Source 17.4___WW, GD, DL, RP, LT________________________________
  • Source 17.5___BC, LG, SL, IS________________________________
  • Source 17.6___AA, CE, AL, MS________________________________
  • Source 17.7 ___SD, SH, LMac, TS________________________________

Sept. 20  Gender and Family: China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and “New Spain,” 1600-1750

  • Source 18.1__EA, HT, AB, WW, BC_____________________________________
  • Source 18.2__AA, SD, HD, GC, MF_________________________________
  • Source 18.3__GD, LG, CE, SH, AL_____________________________________
  • Blaut, pp. 108-119
    • When did technological superiority begin in Europe?
    • How does China’s technology problematize the doctrine of European superiority?

Sept. 25:  Gender and Family: China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and “New Spain,” 1600-1750 (cont’d)

  • Source 18.4 __JK, LMac, RM, DM, EM, RP____________________________________
  • Source 18.5 __IS, MS, TS, SC, AG_________________________________
  • Source 18.6 __LMar, LT, JK, CL, DL, SL_________________________________
  • Blaut, ch. 152-73
    • Why did non-European regions decline after 1492?
    • What was feudalism?  Why does Samir Amin prefer the term “tributary?”

Sept. 27 The Scientific Revolution: Europe, the Ottoman Empire, China, Japan, and the Americas, 1600-1800

  • Source 19.1____EA, AA, AB, SC____________________________
  • Source 19.2 ___GC, SD, GD, HD________________________________
  • Source 19.3 ___MF, LG, AG, SH________________________________
  • Source 19.4 ___JK, ALeary, DL, CL________________________________

Oct. 2 The Scientific Revolution: Europe, the Ottoman Empire, China, Japan, and the Americas, 1600-1800 (cont’d)

  • Source 19.5____ALopez, SL, LMac, LMar_______________________________
  • Source 19.6 ____RM, DM, EM, RP_______________________________
  • Source 19.7 ____IS, TS, MS, HT_______________________________
  • Source 19.8 ____LT, WW, BC, CE_______________________________

Oct. 4  Enlightenment and Revolution: Europe, the Americas, and India, 1650-1850

  • Source 20.1 _____LT, IS, RM, ALopez______________________________
  • Source 20.2 _____JK, MF, GC, EA______________________________
  • Source 20.3 _____WW, TS, DM, SL______________________________
  • Source 20.4 _____ALeary, LG, SD, AA______________________________

Oct. 9  NO CLASS

Oct. 11  Enlightenment and Revolution: Europe, the Americas, and India, 1650-1850 (cont’d)

  • Source 20.5 _____BC, MS, EM, LMac,______________________________
  • Source 20.6 _____DL, AG, GD, AB______________________________
  • Source 20.7 _____CE, HT, RP, LMar______________________________
  • Source 20.8 _____CL, SH, HD, SC______________________________

Oct. 16  Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution: Europe and the World, 1750-1900

  • Source 21.1 _         EA, CL, AG, SC, LT, TS, AA__________________________________
  • Source 21.2_         MF, CE, MS, LMar, JK, LG__________________________________
  • Source 21.3 _        AG, DL, HD, AB, WW, RM, SL__________________________________
  • Blaut, pp. 179-187

Oct. 18  Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution: Europe and the World, 1750-1900 (cont’d)

  • Source 21.4 _             LMar, BC, RP, LMac, ALeary, GC__________________________________
  • Source 21.5 _            TS, SH, GD, IS, DM, ALopez__________________________________
  • Source 21.6__           WW, HT, EM, MF, SD, EA_________________________________
  • Blaut, pp. 187-206, 214-15

Oct. 23  MIDTERM

Oct. 25  Colonized and Colonizers: Europeans in Africa and Asia, 1850-1930

  • Source 22.1__          EA, HT, SH, BC, DL, CE, CL_________________________________
  • Source 22.2 __        LG, EM, GD, RP, HD, MS, AG_________________________________
  • Source 22.3__        DM, MF, LMac, AB, LMar, SC________________________________
  • Achebe, chs. 1-6

Oct. 30  Colonized and Colonizers: Europeans in Africa and Asia, 1850-1930 (cont’d)

  • Source 22.4__          RP, SD, DM, ALeary, WW, JK__________________________________
  • Source 22.5__         WW, LT, EA, ALopez, GC, RM_________________________________
  • Source 22.6 __        MF, LG, TS, SL, AA, IS,_________________________________
  • Achebe, chs. 7-13

Nov. 1  Westernization and Nationalism: Japan, India, Turkey, and Egypt, 1860-1950

  • Source 23.1__ ALopez,_HT, EM, MF, SH_______________________________
  • Source 23.2__          SL, GD, LMac, BC, RP________________________________
  • Source 23.3__          IS,_AB, DL, HD, LMar________________________________
  • Source 23.4__          LG, CE, MS, SC, CL, AG_________________________________
  • Achebe, chs. 14-19

Nov. 6  Westernization and Nationalism: Japan, India, Turkey, and Egypt, 1860-1950

  • Source 23.5___SD, LT, LG, DM, JK, IS________________________________
  • Source 23.6___EA, TS, ALeary, ALopez, RM________________________________
  • Source 23.7___LG, SL, WW, GC, AA________________________________
  • Achebe, chs. 20-25

Nov. 8  World War I and Its Consequences: Europe and the Soviet Union, 1914-1920

  • Source 24.1___HT, GD, AB, CE________________________________
  • Source 24.2 __SD, EA, LG, EM_________________________________
  • Source 24.3 __LMac, DL, MS, LT_________________________________
  • Source 24.4 __TS, SL, MF, BC _________________________________

Nov. 13  World War I and Its Consequences: Europe and the Soviet Union, 1914-1920 (cont’d)

  • Source 24.5__HD, SC, RM, ALeary_________________________________
  • Source 24.6 __WW, SH, RP, LMar_________________________________
  • Source 24.7 __CL, AG, DM, ALopez_________________________________
  • Source 24.8 __GC, JK, IS, AA_________________________________

Nov. 15 World War II and Mass Killing: Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and the United States, 1931-1945

  • Source 25.1 ____CE, EM, LT, BC_____________________________
  • Source 25.2 ____RM, RP, DM, IS______________________________
  • Source 25.3 ____AB, LG, MS, MF, ALeary_______________________________

Nov. 20 World War II and Mass Killing: Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and the United States, 1931-1945

  • Source 25.4 ___SC, SH, AG, JK, LMar_______________________________
  • Source 25.5 ___GD, EA, DL, SL, ALopez________________________________
  • Source 25.6 ___HD, WW, CL, GC, AA________________________________
  • Source 25.7 ___HT, SD, LMac, TS_________________________________

Nov. 22 Thanksgiving (NO CLASS)

Nov. 27  The Cold War and the Third World:  China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Afghanistan, 1945-1989

  • Source 26.1 _____ALeary, LMar, ALopez, AA______________________________
  • Source 26.2_____JK, SL, GC, TS______________________________
  • Source 26.3 ____LMac, BC, IS, MF_______________________________
  • Source 26.4 ____MS, AG, DL, CL_______________________________

Nov. 29  The Cold War and the Third World:  China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Afghanistan, 1945-1989 (cont’d)

  • Source 26.5 ____WW, SD, LT, DM_______________________________
  • Source 26.6 ____RP, LG, SH, EA_______________________________
  • Source 26.7____GD, HD, HT, EM_______________________________
  • Source 26.8 ___CE, RM, AB, SC________________________________

Dec. 4  Resources and Environment:  The Case of Water, 1945 to the Present

  • Source 27.1 ___CE, GD, RP________________________________
  • Source 27.2 ___MS, LMac, JK________________________________
  • Source 27.3 ___RM, HD, LG ________________________________
  • Source 27.4 ___AG, BC, GC________________________________
  • Source 27.5 ___AB, HT, SH________________________________

Dec. 6  Globalization, 1960 to the Present

  • Source 28.1 ____DM, AA,  GC_______________________________
  • Source 28.2 ____SC, EM, EA_______________________________
  • Source 28.3 ____CL, MF, TS_______________________________
  • Source 28.4 ____WW, ALeary, SD_______________________________
  • Source 28.5 ____LMar, LT, ALopez_______________________________
  • Source 28.6 ____DL, IS_______________________________

FINAL EXAM: Thursday, December 13, 10-1

Style Guide:

The Department of History and Political Science mandates that all submitted work adhere to the Turabian/Chicago style delineated in Kate Turabian, et. al., A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, University of Chicago Press (available at the Wilson Library Reference Desk). Here you can access the online version of the Chicago Manual of Style.

Here are a couple of websites that will automatically format citations in Chicago style for you: https://www.citationmachine.net/ and http://www.citethisforme.com/.

Exam Proctoring Guidelines:

  1. One seat space between students when possible.
  2. No bathroom breaks except in the case of illness or emergency.  Student should discuss this circumstance with the proctor prior to the start of the exam.
  3. No materials on the desk except for pens/pencils, bluebook or writing paper and exam.
  4. Under no circumstances can students access electronic devices during the exam.
  5. Exam proctors will note any violation of these rules and those will be considered in the final grade.


Your work will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

A— designates work of extraordinarily high quality; reflects unusually thorough and comprehensive understanding of issues at hand; presents a clearly identifiable thesis and argument that demonstrates cogent and creative development and support of ideas.

B— designates work of high quality; reflects clearly organized and comprehensive understanding of issues and hand; presents substantive thesis and argument with evident development and support of ideas.

C— designates work which minimally meets requirements set forward in assignment; reflects some organization and development of ideas, but develops argument in superficial or simplistic manner; may only address part of the assignment or be otherwise incomplete.

D— designates work of poor quality which does not meet minimum requirements set forward in assignment; demonstrates poor organization of ideas and/or inattention to development of ideas, grammar, and spelling; treatment of material is superficial and/or simplistic; may indicate that student has not done reading assignments thoroughly.

F— designates work that does not meet ANY of the standards set above or which is not handed in.


Plagiarism is a prevalent but highly unethical practice. Plagiarism will result in the immediate failure of this course and disciplinary action which could lead to expulsion from the University. If you are having problems in the course, please come and talk to me about it rather than doing something that could put your entire college career in jeopardy. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to the following:

·The direct copying of an:y source, such as written and verbal material, computer files, audio disks, video programs or musical scores, whether published or unpublished, in whole or part, without proper acknowledgment that it is someone else’s.

·Copying of any source in whole or part with only minor changes in wording or syntax, even with acknowledgment.

·Submitting as one’s own work a report, examination paper, computer file, lab report or other assignment that has been prepared by someone else. This includes research papers purchased from any other person or agency.

·The paraphrasing of another’s work or ideas without proper acknowledgment.

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