Syllabus: History 102, Spring 2009

World History From 1500

Prof. Jonathan Dresner
Phone: 235-4315
Office: RH 406F
Spring 2009
Section 02: MWF 11-11:50am, RH 405
Section 04: MWF 9-9:50am, RH 305
Office Hours: MWF 10-11, 1-2, TuTh 10-12


Textbook: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The World: A History, Volume Two (since 1300), Prentice Hall, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0131777637. (Includes CD-ROM)

History is the study of humanity and change over time. In this class we’ll have lots of both: the whole world over the last five hundred years (that’s about one year per four minutes of class time), from our pre-industrial heritage to our hypertext present, from five hundred million people to over six billion. We will recreate the present from the past, and see how our current situation is in many ways the legacy of earlier cultures and processes. Who we are and where we are in the world is very much a historical question, as we will discover.

This class will examine this history through many lenses: political, economic, social, cultural, personal. The textbook will provide the basic survey of the history, and the CD-ROM has interesting original source readings that will give greater depth and texture to subjects we will be discussing. The lectures and discussions will cover some of the same ground, but from different perspectives, including an introduction to the challenges and pleasures of Doing History.

Course Goals

This is a general education course, and no course which covers so much time and space could be anything but general. Nonetheless, students should master many specific historical, cultural and sociological facts related to world history since 1500, as well as themes and models of human development. Reading and writing will be very important skills developed in this course, as is respect for the cultures of the world throughout time.

In addition to the historical and cultural content, students will demonstrate increasing mastery of critical reading of primary and secondary sources in writing and discussion. “Critical” does not mean “attacking” but “analytical”: putting material in historical and cultural context, drawing appropriate inferences and and deductions from the evidence of the text, and raising relevant questions for futher inquiry.

Students who actively engage the course material and assignments will not only be gaining knowledge, but will also be developing important skills as articulated in the General Education goals especially the “Human Heritage” skills:

  • Demonstrate an appreciation for the range and diversity of humankind’s wisdom, values, ideas, beliefs, and reasoning.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of human behavior, the human condition, and human institutions in the context of historical, literary, or philosophical inquiry.
  • Demonstrate recognition of the inter-relatedness of the past, present, and future

Course Website:

Bookmark it. Check it regularly. I will use it for announcements (course stuff, special events, extra credit), to maintain the schedule (particularly if it changes), to post handouts (so if you lose or miss one, it’ll be there) and keep a small library of useful links. In the event of a disparity between the original syllabus and the website, follow the website: I reserve the right to change readings, test dates, due dates, grade weights and assignments as necessary throughout the semester.


Students are expected to behave respectfully towards their peers and instructor. Disruptive behavior, including failing to turn off cell phones during class, will result in participation penalties and possibly removal from the classroom. This does not mean that there can’t be lively discussions and disagreements, but personal attacks, excessive volume, threatening gestures or words, and failure to give others a chance to speak and be heard are not acceptable.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism will not be tolerated in this course.

Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another person without proper acknowledgement. Plagiarism is intellectual theft; in an educational setting it is particularly repugnant. Plagiarism in my courses will be punished. It’s simple: Anytime you copy words into your own work, you must clearly mark them and acknowledge the source of those words. Anytime you use someone else’s ideas, you must admit it. There are three options: put it in quotation marks and footnote; paraphrase and footnote; or be original. If you have any questions or any concerns about citation format or necessity, ask someone who knows what they’re doing.

Other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated either

The use of unauthorized aid on tests, failing to write one’s own papers, using papers for more than one course without permission. For more detail, see the relevant sections of the University Catalog. None of this precludes group study and discussion: those are actually really good ideas.

Course Application

Within the General Education requirements, this course counts towards the Human Heritage requirement. This course is also an important part of the History major.


Advising is a very important resource designed to help students complete the requirements of the University and their individual majors. Students should consult with their advisor at least once a semester to decide on courses, check progress towards graduation, and discuss career options and other educational opportunities. Advising is a shared responsibility, but students have final responsibility for meeting degree requirements.

Student Accommodation

Any student with a documented disability who would like to request accommodations should contact the instructor as early in the semester as possible. For more information, contact the Learning Center (Kelly D. Heiskell, 235-4309,


History is about real people, diverse cultures, interesting theories, strongly held belief systems, complex situations, conflicts and often-dramatic actions. This information may be disturbing. Such is the nature of historical study.



Reading assignments — textbook and documents — must be done before class on the day indicated. I strongly recommend that you read and think about the study questions in the textbook and on the document CD as preparation for class discussions. I will distribute a list of important terms from the textbook readings as well, from which the tests will be drawn.

Pop Quizzes and Tests

The tests will be in the form of short-essay “Identification” tests. Tests will cover both textbook and document readings, as well as lecture discussions. I will distribute study terms, from which the test terms will be selected. I will drop your lowest test grade from your final grade calculation.

There will sometimes be a pop quiz at the beginning of class: it will also be in the form of a short-essay identification from the reading assigned for that day. I will do a “mock” pop quiz Monday the 26th so you can get used to the form which will be used on both the pop quizzes and the tests. I will drop your lowest pop quiz grade from your final grade calculation.

Final Exam

In addition to the short tests, the final exam will be a comprehensive essay test. You do not need to do outside research to answer these questions, but you do need to think about them long and hard. Details to follow.

Document Analysis

Over the course of the semester you will have eight short writing assignments about specific historical documents. These will give you a chance to do some serious thinking about historical sources and the use of evidence. I will drop the lowest document analysis grade from your final grade calculation.

Extra Credit

I will announce cultural/historical events for which extra credit may be earned. Check the website for current listings. To get extra credit, attend or participate in the event listed, and write a short (under two pages, single-spaced) summary of the event and describe your reaction and what you learned from it.

  • All assignments are due in class at the beginning of class on the due date.
  • Absences may be excused for unusual school-related events (not athletic practices), illness or family-related problems, but only if I am informed in advance or you have documentation (such as a doctor’s note). Unexcused absences will affect your attendance grade.
  • Unexcused late assignments will be penalized one grade level per class period late.
Attendance, Preparation and Participation 15%
Tests 25%
Document Analysis 30%
Pop Quizzes 10%
Final Exam 20%

NOTE: I will be happy to go over your grades and let you know how you are doing in the course at any time.

NOTE #2: Even very, very bad work is still going to get an F, which is a lot better than a zero.

Administrative Deadlines and Instructional Holidays are in Italics

Assignments and Tests are in Bold


Assignment / Reading

Document Reading

1/16 (F) First Day of Class: Syllabus

The Last 500 Years and Historians’ work

1/19 (M) MLK Day/Instructional Holiday
1/21 (W) Chapter 15: Expanding Worlds: Recovery In The Late Fourteenth And Fifteenth Centuries
1/22 (Th) Last day for full fee refund

Last day to add new classes

Last day for late enrollment

1/23 (F) Niccolo Machiavelli, excerpts from The Prince
1/26 (M) Pop Quiz, Tests and Document assignments
1/28 (W) Chapter 16: Imperial Arenas: New Empires In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries

Final day for dropping course without grade report

1/30 (F) Document Assignment 1 Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq: “Süleyman the Lawgiver”
2/2 (M) Chapter 17: The Ecological Revolution Of The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries
2/4 (W) Chapter 18: Mental Revolutions: Religion And Science In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries
2/6 (F)
2/9 (M) Document Assignment 2 Christopher Columbus, journal excerpt and letter
2/11 (W) Catch-up/Review
2/13 (F) Test 1
2/16 (M) Chapter 19: States And Societies: Political And Social Change In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries

President’s Day/ No Holiday

2/18 (W) Chapter 20: Driven By Growth: The Global Economy In The Eighteenth Century
2/20 (F) Thomas Malthus, excerpt from Essay on the Principle of Population
2/23 (M) Document Assignment 3 Tokugawa Shogunate, The Laws for the Military House, 1615
2/25 (W) Chapter 21: The Age Of Global Interaction: Expansion And Intersection Of Eighteenth-Century Empires
2/27 (F) Chapter 22: The Exchange Of Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Thought Cesare Beccaria, from An Essay on Crimes and Punishments
3/2 (M) Revolution and Napoleon
3/4 (W) Document Assignment 4 Revolutionary France: Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen, 1791
3/6 (F) Catch-up/Review
3/9 (M) Test 2
3/11 (W) Chapter 23: Replacing Muscle: The Energy Revolutions
3/13 (F) Catch-up/Review
3/16-20 D/F Grades Due

Spring Break

3/23 (M) Chapter 24: The Social Mold: Work And Society In The Nineteenth Century
3/25 (W) Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, from The Communist Manifesto

The Sadler Report: Child Labor in the United Kingdom, 1832

3/27 (F) Document Assignment 5 Henrik Ibsen, from A Doll’s House, Act Three
3/30 (M) Chapter 25: Western Dominance In The Nineteenth Century World: The Westward Shift Of Power And The Rise Of Global Empires
4/1 (W) Chapter 26: The Changing State: Political Developments In The Nineteenth Century
4/3 (F) Japan and China
4/6 (M) Document Assignment 6 John Stuart Mill, excerpts from On Liberty
4/8 (W) Catch-up/Review
4/10 (F) Test 3

Final day for dropping course unless withdraw from school

4/13 (M) Chapter 27: The Twentieth-Century Mind: Western Science And The World
4/15 (W) Concepts of Race and Nation
4/17 (F) Chapter 28: World Order And Disorder: Global Politics In The Twentieth Century
4/20 (M) Technology of war: WWI and WWII
4/22 (W) Document Assignment 7 Benito Mussolini, from “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism”
4/24 (F) Chapter 29: The Pursuit Of Utopia: Civil Society In The Twentieth Century
4/27 (M) Chapter 30: The Embattled Biosphere: The Twentieth-Century Environment
4/29 (W) Social and cultural change
5/1 (F) Document Assignment 8 UN “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” 1948
5/4 (M) Catch-up/Review
5/6 (W) Test 4
5/7 Last day to withdraw from university
5/8 (F) Catch-up/Review

Last day of instruction

9am – Wed, 13 May, 9-10:50

11am – Fri, 15 May, 11-12:50

Final Exam Essays Due

“The only problems money can solve are money problems. ” — Jay W. Forrester

“Many of the problems the world faces today are the eventual result of short-term measures taken last century.”
— Jay W. Forrester

“If power corrupts, weakness in the seat of power, with its constant necessity of deals and bribes and compromising arrangements, corrupts even more.” — Barbara Tuchman

“History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstance.” — Donald Creighton

Sapere aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’ — that is the motto of enlightenment.”
— Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason