Political Science | Where We Come From, Where We Go
Y490 | 26797 | Furniss

Meets with H304

This seminar will look at the development of human societies from
around 13,000 years ago projected a few decades into the future. We
have three challenging aims: To tease out perspectives and
connections often obscured when social science is fixated on the
immediate; to provide an interdisciplinary orientation to problem
solving; and to raise and attempt to understand the significance of
large and contentious issues. I will give a few examples of the
questions we will consider: How come peoples in the Americas, Africa
and Australia developed patterns of urban “civilized” living more
slowly and incompletely than did peoples on the Eurasian continent?
How did Europe, for most of human history an unimportant appendage
of the Eurasian continent, emerge as the dominant world area?
Looking to the future, why, if the earth has undergone continuous
patterns of warming and cooling, does current “global warming”
potentially pose such hazards? Or, if our interest is more
political, why don’t peoples around the world seem to embrace
joyously our ideas of liberty and democracy? Or, turning to civil
society, how can modern societies such as the United States
accommodate diversity and still remain civil?

In investigating these issues, we will have the benefit of reading a
variety of outstanding works including Ian Buruma, Murder in
Amsterdam and Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel. A major
assignment will be to write a seminar paper. I would be pleased to
discuss details with anyone who might be interested in taking the
seminar. My email is furniss@indiana.edu, phone 5-9