History | Issues in World History
W100 | 25786 | Shopkow

Topic:  Resources and People:  The World Before 1400

We live in a global society, in which we may lunch on noodles from
Thailand, garnished with grapes from Chile, washed down with beer
brewed in the Czech Republic, while we wear a shirt made in Haiti.
If we have a problem with an appliance, we may talk to a customer
service representative in Bombay, and when we go out dancing we may
boogie to Afropop wearing shearling boots from New Zealand. As
members of a rich society within the global community, the good
things of the world are at our fingertips almost instantly. Goods
and ideas traveled around at least part of the world before 1400,
but generally slowly, and in most places most people were limited to
the resources locally available to them. How those resources were
spread around the society affected the well-being, status, and
experiences of every individual.

In this course we are going to look at the history of the world
before 1400 with special attention to the question of what resources
were available in different societies, what decisions were made
about who was to get them, what competition there was for these
resources (both inside or outside the society), and how this
decision shaped a particular social order. Class lectures will
discuss some of these societies, while students will study other
societies and report their findings. Course work will consist of
several short-answer examinations, group projects and individual
reports, and class participation in discussion sections. The
emphasis in this course will be on teaching basic historical skills
such as reading and understanding a textbook and primary sources,
working with different types of evidence, and presenting one's ideas
both orally and in writing.