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HIST 101-103 - World Civilizations

A guide to literature and other resources for students of HIST 101, 102, and 103.

Why Study History?

Without individual memory, a person literally loses his or her identity,  and would not know how to act in encounters with others. Imagine waking up one morning unable to tell total strangers from family and friends! Collective memory is similar, though its loss does not immediately paralyze everyday private activity. But ignorance of history-that is, absent or defective collective memory­ does deprive us of the best available guide for public action, especially in encounters with outsiders, whether the outsiders are another nation, another civilization, or some  special group within national borders. . . Historical knowledge is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory . . . Clearly we need careful reflection about, and search for, enduring patterns and critical turning points in the past, for these are the historical facts that everyone needs to know. 

-William McNeilI, Why Study History? (1985)

World History Association

History of the World History Association (WHA)

The WHA is the foremost organization for the promotion of world history through the encouragement of teaching, research, and publication. It was founded in 1982 by a group of teachers and academics determined to address the needs and interests of what was then a newly emerging historical subdiscipline and teaching field.  

The new world history emerged out of the shift in higher and secondary education away from a sole emphasis on national and regional histories toward broader cross-cultural, comparative, and global approaches. By the 1980s, instructors who had been asked to create new courses in this field, as well as scholars who had already begun laying its theoretical groundwork, came together in founding a new type of professional association, one that united the schools and the universities, teaching with research.

Since then, the WHA has grown four-fold, has garnered accolades for its award winning Journal of World History, and has played a seminal role in shaping the field in the U.S. and around the world. Important for American secondary education, WHA members have been instrumental in establishing standards for world history teaching at the national and state levels as well as designing the AP World History course. At present, although its membership is still predominantly North American, the WHA is represented in over 35 countries and has an affiliate relationship with world history societies in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Most important, the WHA brings together university professors, college and community college
instructors, school teachers, graduate students, and independent scholars in a collegial camaraderie rarely found in more narrowly focused academic and professional societies. Still motivated by a larger sense of mission in preparing students and the public for an interdependent world, the WHA has been unique in bridging the gap between secondary and post-secondary educators.

World History: Bibliographic Resources

World History: Areas of Specialization

World History- Areas of Specialization

Disciplines Related to World History

See Web page to expand

Regions in World History

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Eras of World History by Dates

  • The Paleolithic Era of Human History (c.250,000-10,000 BCE)
  • The Early Agrarian Era (c.10,000-3,000 BCE)
  • The Later Agrarian Era (c.3,000 BCE-500CE)
  • The Post-Classical Era (c.500-1400CE)
  • The Early Modern Era (c.1400-1750CE)
  • The Industrial Era or Age (1750-1900CE)
  • The Modern Revolution (1750-2010 CE)
  • The Twentieth Century (1900-2000CE)
  • The Twenty-First Century (From 2000CE)
  • The Future

Genres of World History

  • Big History
  • Comparative World History
  • Environmental World History
  • Global Studies
  • Historiography
  • World Systems Theory
  • Universal History

Cultural-Social Themes of World History

  • Childhood
  • Class
  • Cross-Cultural Encounters and Exchanges
  • Diasporas
  • Gender  
  • High Culture
  • Orientalism
  • Popular Culture
  • Racism
  • Religion
  • Slavery
  • Social Structures
  • Sports

Economic Themes of World History

  • Commodities
  • Economy
  • Globalizaion
  • Industrialization
  • Maritime Trade
  • Monocultural economies
  • Nomadic and pastoral peoples, impact on trade
  • Overland Trade
  • Plantation economies
  • Southernization
  • Trade Diasporas
  • Transoceanic voyaging

Political Themes of World History

  • Colonialism/imperialism
  • Communism
  • Democracy  
  • Dictatorship
  • Empire/Empires
  • Fascism
  • Feudalism
  • Genocide
  • Immigration
  • Frontiers and Borderlands
  • Modernization
  • Monarchy
  • Oligarchy
  • Nationalism
  • Rise, Decline and Fall of Civilizations
  • Socialism
  • Westernization
  • Urbanization
  • War and Diplomacy

Environmental Themes of World History

  • Climate
  • Desertification
  • Environmental Determinism
  • Food and Foodways
  • Human Impact on the Environment

World History: General Online Resources

Internet History Sourcebooks Project: The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use. 

Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy: Yale Law School hosts this collection of primary materials dating from 4000 B.C.E. to the 21st century. Included are the full text of laws, colony charters, acts, and declarations, presidential proclamations, treaties and formal negotiations affecting the United States judiciary system and governmental foreign policy in general. 

Best of History Web Sites: This site has links to over 1,200 history-related websites that have been reviewed for quality, accuracy, and usefulness. Also included are links to K-12 history lesson plans, teacher guides, activities, games, quizzes, and more.

Mapping History: A project at the University of Oregon, this website contains modern maps illustrating historical topics in American, European, Latin and African history. Requires Shockwave Player 11.0--a free installation from Adobe.

PAIS International: Public Affairs Information Service: The PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) International database covers a wide range of current and past public policy issues in countries throughout the world, emphasizing factual and statistical information.

World History for Us All: This website provides "a comprehensive model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools." It features an overview of the integrative approach to world history, lesson plans arranged by "Big Eras," a glossary, and links to related websites.

WorldNews Network: Currently, World News has indexed over 130 million pages covering news about film, sports, entertainment, science, business, health, and every region on Earth. World News Network presents news from more than 1,000 reputable sources including mainstream providers (BBC, CNN, Reuters, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, etc.) and more regional sources (the Independent, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Times of India).

Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative: "ECAI uses time and space to enhance understanding and preservation of human culture." A collection of digital atlas projects produced by scholars from around the world.

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online: "An international interdisciplinary organization of scholars and teachers dedicated to developing the enormous educational potential of the web."