Syllabus: Hist 102 (Spring 2013)

History 102: World History from 1500

Prof. Jonathan Dresner
Phone: 235-4315
Office: RH 406F
Pittsburg State University, Spring 2013
Section 03: MWF 2-2:50pm, RH 409
Office Hours: MWF 11-2, 1st TuTh 10-12


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 wireless present, from five hundred million people to over seven 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, supplemented by 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 deductions from the evidence of the text, and raising relevant questions for further 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 Application

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

Course Website:

I will be using Canvas for announcements and assignments, but many course resources will be available through my public site listed above. Anything assigned for class will be linked from Canvas, but feel free to explore the other resources available. If Canvas is termporarily unavailable, this will be the backup for course materials. If Canvas becomes unavailable for an extended period of time, we’ll figure something out.


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.


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 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.

Technology in the classroom

The use of laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones and other devices is not permitted. While there are legitimate educational uses for these tools, most research on classroom use shows that they are more distracting than enabling, especially to fellow students. Students using computers or cell phones without permission will be asked to leave and will not get credit for attendance. Special exceptions may be made by the instructor only for disability accomodation and official note-takers.

The use of recording equipment, audio, photographic or video, or speech-to-text transcription software is not permitted. Arrangements may be made for students with documented disabilities. Students violating this restriction will be asked to leave and may face grade penalties and disciplinary action.

You should check your email at least daily: if you don’t use a university email account regularly, set it to forward mail to your preferred address. I check email regularly: you should hear back from me within 24 hours. If you send me an assignment, I will reply with an acknowledgement. If I don’t reply, I probably did not get the email: try again.


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.


In the event of a disparity between the original syllabus and online schedule, the online schedule will be correct: I reserve the right to change readings, test dates, due dates, grade weights and assignments as necessary throughout the semester.

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 Center for Student Accommodations (235-4309,

Syllabus Supplement

For more information on deadlines, severe weather policy, visas, grades, attendance, final exams, student support, etc. please see the University Catalog or the 2012 Spring Syllabus Supplement, available through the Registrar’s office: or directly at


All schedules, assignments, and policies in the syllabus are subject to change. Check the website, which will have the most current and accurate information possible as well as copies of course handouts.



    • Peter N. Stearns, Michael B. Adas, Stuart B. Schwartz, Marc Jason Gilbert, World Civilizations: The Global Experience, Volume 2 (6th Edition). 978-0205659593
    • Andrew F. Smith’s Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009) 978-0231140935
    • Additional Web-based primary source readings, etc.

Reading assignments – including sidebars and documents in the textbook — must be done before class on the day indicated. I strongly recommend that you read and think about the study questions in the textbook as preparation for class. Any other assigned readings, either books or web-based, should be read in full (unless otherwise indicated in the syllabus) before class on the assigned date.

Reading Homework

Every reading assignment also includes a homework assignment due by noon before class. For chapters of Stearns, et al., you must pick the five most important people and the five most important events from the chapter and explain in complete sentences why each is important. For the documents, you will write a short (200-500 words) summary; for Eating History you will write an overall summary and a summary of your favorite five chapters. Homework will primarily be judged on timely completion. There will be 30 assignments in all.

Lectures and Discussions

Some of my lectures will expand on the history presented in the textbook, adding detail and alternative understandings. Some of my lectures will introduce and raise questions about historical sources or historians’ arguments. Some of my lectures will be about historical practice and theory as it applies to specific topics. Some of my lectures will cover people, places and situations which aren’t in the readings at all. I will, on occasion, correct or disagree with the textbook or with other historians. Historians do that. Some of my lectures won’t even be lectures: they will be discussions with the class, which is to say, with you. My lectures do not “cover” the textbook or other readings; I will assume you have done the readings in advance of the lectures. The lectures and textbook are intended to supplement each other, not duplicate material: you are responsible for learning from both.

Two-Minute Responses

For some lectures, I will require at the end, a short writing exercise highlighting the main themes or points of the lecture. These will primarily be graded on completion, and will count towards attendance. This will happen about every other lecture over the course of the semester.


There will be three short essay ID tests based on lists of terms — names, events, concepts, sources — which will be distributed as a study guide. The terms will be based on the textbook and the lectures. I have scheduled a day before each test for catching up, discussion, practice or questions. See the study guide for more detail.

Book Essay

There will be an essay assignment based on Eating History, in which you will explore some theme that runs through more than one chapter of the book. Details to follow.

Final Exam: Essays

The final exam will cover all readings, resources and lectures of the course. It will be consist of two take-home essay assignments. Questions and detailed instructions will be distributed well before the final exam due date.

Professionalism: Preparation, Attendance and Participation

This is not just a classroom: it is a work space, and you are adults. You are expected to be present and prepared for class time, not only physically but intellectually, and to carry out your assignments in a timely and careful fashion. You are responsible for keeping track of assignments, due dates, and announcements made through the course website.

The essence of scholarship is constructive engagement; the best learning comes from doing. It is very important that everyone keep up with the readings, and come to class prepared to think and talk and question and listen. Asking good questions is an important form of participation. Asking questions which can be easily answered by referencing the syllabus, course website or textbook is not.

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 (email is fine) or you have documentation (such as a doctor’s note). Unexcused absences will lower your professionalism grade. I generally do not drop students for non-attendance: it is your responsibility to be aware of your course load and your grades. However, I reserve the right to drop students with no record of attendance in the first weeks of the semester.

There may be days on which there will be a video lecture available online rather than an in-class lecture. Students are not required to come to class on those days, but are responsible for the material in the lectures. Recorded lectures may also be used to make up a day lost to weather or instructor absence; these are also required.

There will sometimes be homework assignments which do not fall into the above categories which will be considered part of the professionalism grade. The first assignment is that all students are required to find the student information form on the course website, complete it, and email it to the instructor before the second class meeting. Failure to complete assignments, or consistently sloppy or incorrect work, will also lower your professionalism grade.

Extra Credit

I will announce cultural and historical events for which extra credit may be earned. Check the website for current listings. Visits to museums, art galleries, historical sites and other cultural institutions may also qualify. If you know of an event or a cultural institution and would like to have it considered for extra credit, or announced to the class, let me know. 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; submit extra credit by email or Canvas mail. Extra Credits are added to the professionalism score at the end of the semester.

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

Grade Policies
      • Grades are generally recorded on a 100-point scale. For some assignments, I may use a 4-point scale to calculate the letter grade, but it will be recorded as a 100-point scale value. I reserve the right to adjust grades upwards to reflect the performance of the class as a whole; I do not “curve” grades towards a target distribution, nor do I adjust grades downwards.
      • Assignment format, requirements and due dates will be included in the assignment instructions: read them carefully, and ask questions well in advance of the due date if there is anything you do not understand.
      • If hard copy (printed) is required, email will only be accepted as proof of completion in emergencies: the student is still responsible to get a printed copy to the instructor as soon as possible. For assignments which are to be turned in by email, I will send a confirmation email; If you have not gotten one in a reasonable amount of time (a day or so), it is your responsibility to confirm that your assignment was received. For assignments submitted on Canvas, it is the student’s responsibility to confirm that all files are properly uploaded and complete.
      • In the event of an excused absence on an assignment due date, the student is responsible for turning in the work no later than the next class, unless other arrangements have been made.
      • Unexcused late assignments, due to absence, technical problems, etc., will be penalized up to one grade level (B to C, etc.) per class period late.
      • Even very, very bad (or very late) work is still going to get an F, which is a lot better than a zero.
      • Plagiarism or other violations of academic honesty will result in zero credit on that assignment and may result in an F or XF for the semester depending on circumstances.
      • NOTE: I do post grades on Canvas, but the Canvas gradebook will not include some portions of the course grade. I will be happy to go over your grades and let you know how you are doing in the course at any time. Come to my office hours, or email me.

Grade Distribution



Tests (3)


Book Essay


Reading Homeworks (30)


Two-minute Essays (15)


Final Exam Essays (2)


Schedule of Topics, Readings and Assignments

Administrative Deadlines and Instructional Holidays are in Italics

Assignments and Tests are in Bold




1/14 (M) First Day of Class; Classwork begins
Syllabus, Love of History
1/16 (W) State of the World in 1500
1/18 (F) Columbian Exchange Chapter 21. The World Economy
1/21 (M) Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
1/22 Last day for full fee refund
Last day to add new classes without permission
Last day for late online enrollment
1/23 (W) Early Modernity, or, Catching up with China
1/25 (F) Protestant Reformation Chapter 22. Transformation of the West, 1450–1750
1/28 (M) Final day for dropping course without grade report
Scientific and Commercial Revolution
1/30 (W) Kennedy Thesis Chapter 23. The Rise of Russia
2/1 (F) Imperialism, Plantations, Migrations Chapter 24. Early Latin America
2/4 (M) World Systems Theory Chapter 25. Africa and the Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade
2/6 (W) Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal Chapter 26. The Muslim Empires
2/8 (F) Unification of Japan Chapter 27. Asian Transitions
2/11 (M) Ming-Qing Transition
2/13 (W) catch-up/review
2/15 (F) Instructor Absent
2/18 (M) Test 1 President’s Day/ No Holiday
2/20 (W) Historiography of Revolutions Chapter 28. The Emergence of Industrial Society in the West, 1750–1914
2/22 (F) Enlightenment
2/25 (M) Industrialization
2/27 (W) Rights and Responsibilities “English Bill of Rights”/”French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen”/”US Declaration of Independence”
3/1 (F) 19th c. Intellectual History
3/4 (M) The Case of Korea Chapter 29. Industrialization and Imperialism: The Making of the European Global Order
3/6 (W) North and South Chapter 30. Consolidation of Latin America, 1830–1920
3/8 (F) Decline and Fall of Great Empires Chapter 31. Civilizations in Crisis: The Ottoman Empire, the Islamic Heartlands, and Qing China
3/11 (M) Competitive History
D/F Grades Due Noon
Chapter 32. Russia and Japan: Industrialization Outside the West
3/13 (W) Fronts and Technologies Chapter 33. Descent into the Abyss: World War I and the Crisis of the European Global Order
3/15 (F) catch-up/review
3/18-22 Spring Break
3/25 (M) Test 2
3/27 (W) Age of Anxiety Chapter 34. The World between the Wars: Revolutions, Depression, and Authoritarian Response
3/29 (F) Great Depression and Fascism
4/1 (M) National Socialism and Holocaust Chapter 35. A Second Global Conflict and the End of the European World Order
Summer/Fall Early Enrollment Begins
4/3 (W) Technologies and Atrocities
4/5 (F) The Cold War Chapter 36. Western Society and Eastern Europe in the Decades of the Cold War
4/8 (M) Internationalization “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”
Final day for dropping course unless withdraw from school
4/10 (W) Decolonization and Post-colonialism Chapter 37. Latin America: Revolution and Reaction into the 21st Century
Chapter 38. Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in the Era of Independence
4/12 (F) Mao and China Chapter 39. Rebirth and Revolution: Nation-Building in East Asia and the Pacific Rim
4/15 (M) 1980s Coalition and Post-Cold War Chapter 40. Power, Politics, and Conflict in World History, 1990–2010
4/17 (W) Integration and Particularism Chapter 41. Globalization and Resistance
4/19 (F) Good Historical Essay Writing
4/22 (M) Food History Eating History, all (overall summary and 5 chapter summaries due)
4/24 (W) Catch-up/Review
4/25 Last day to withdraw from university
4/26 (F) Test 3
4/29 (M) Catch-up/Review
5/1 (W) Summation
Eating History Essay Due
5/3 (F) Catch-up/Review
5/8 Final Exam Essay Due, 4pm

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