Welcome to World History!

A chinese lion statue

This course examines, not surprisingly, the history of the world. With such a broad topic, we must narrow our focus. Different historians take different approaches; we will take a broad view emphasizing BIG IDEAS. This approach utilizes the work of two curricula--"World History for Us All" (WHfUA), a project of San Diego State University, and the "National Center for History in the Schools" (NCHS), a joint project with the National Council for the Social Studies and UCLA. You can link to their websites at the "Helpful Resources" section of this page.

Here are our foundational ideas from "World History for Us All": 1) Humans and the Environment. How has the changing relationship between human beings and the physical and natural environment affected human life from early times to the present? 2) Humans and Humans. Why have relations among humans become so complex since the early times? 3) Humans and Ideas. How have human views of the world, nature, and the cosmos changed?

Read the HANDBOOK FOR HISTORIANS for specifics on this course and the PLAN for the introductory materials. If you missed class, you get the "blanks" for page 2, page 6, page 7, page 8, page 9, page 10, page 11, and page 12 by clicking on the appropriate page link.

Not sure you know everything you need to know about the "Handbook for Historians. Here is what you should know..

Era 1. The Beginnings of Human Society

? - 4,000 BC
Random foliage

The Peopling of the Earth. The first great global event was the peopling of the earth and the astonishing story of how communities of hunters, foragers, or fishers adapted creatively and continually to a variety of contrasting, changing environments in AFrica, Eurasia, Australia, and the Americas. (NCHS)

The Agricultural Revolution. Over a period of several thousand years and as a result of countless small decisions, humans learned how to grow crops, domesticate plants, and raise animals. The earliest agricultural settlements probably arose in Southwest Asia, but the agricultural revolution spread round the world. Human population began to soar relative to earlier times. Communities came into regular contact with one another over longer distances, cultrual patterns became far more complex, and opportunities for innovation multiplied. (NCHS)

Era 2. Early Civilizations and the Emergence of Pastoral Peoples

4000 - 1000 BC
A chinese dragon

Early Civilizations and the Spread of Agricultural Societies. Societies exhibiting the major characteristics of civilization spread widely during these millennia. four great floodplain civilizations appeared, first in Mesopotamia, shortly after in the Nile Valley, and from about 2500 BCE in the Indus Valley. These three civilizations mutually influenced one another and came to constitute a single regions of intercommunication and trade. The fourth civilization arose in the Yellow River of northwestern China in the second millennium BCE. As agriculture continued to spread, urban centers also emerged on rain-watered lands, notably in Syria and on the island of Crete. Finally, expanding agriculture and long-distance trade were the foundations of increasingly complex societies in the Aegean Sea basin and western Europe. During this same era, it must be remembered, much of the world's population lived in small farming communities and hunted or foraged. These peoples were no less challenged than city-dwellers to adapt continually and creatively to changing environmental social conditions. (NCHS)

Pastoral Peoples and Population Movements. In this era pastoralism--the practice of herding animals as a society's primary source of food--made it possible for larger communities than ever before to inhabit the semi-arid steppes and deserts of Eurasia and Africa. Consequently, pastoral peoples began to play an important role in world history. In the second millennium BCE migrations of pastoral folk emanating from the steppes of Central Asia contributed to a quickening pace of change across the entire region from Europe and the Mediterranean basin to India. Some societies became more highly militarized, new kingdoms appeared, and languages of the Indo-European family became much more widely spoken. (NCHS)

Era 3. Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Great Empires

1000 BC - AD 300

Classical Civilizations Defined. The civilizations of the irrigated river valleys were spreading to adjacent regions, and new centers of urban life and political power were appearing in rain-watered lands. Several civilizations were attaining their classical definitions, that is, they were developing institutions, systems of thought, and cultural styles that would influence neighboring peoples and endure for centuries. (NCHS)

Major Religions Emerge. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Brahmanism/Hinduism, Confucianism, and Daoism all appeared in this period as systems as belief capable of stabilizing and enriching human relations across large areas of the world and providing avenues of cultural interchange between one region and another. Each of these religions united peoples of diverse political and ethnic identities. Religions also, often enough, divided groups into hostile camps and gave legitimacy to war or social repression. (NCHS)

Giant Empires Appear. Multi-ethnic empires became bigger than ever before and royal bureaucracies more effective at organizing people in the interests of the state. Empire building in this era also created much larger spheres of economic and cultural interaction. Near the end of the period the Roman and Han empires together embraced a huge portion of the hemisphere, and caravans and ships were relaying goods from one extremity of Eurasia to the other. (NCHS)

Era 4. Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter

300 - 1000

Patterns in West Africa and Mesoamerica. Population growth, urbanization, and flowering of cultures occurred in more areas. In West-Africa towns flourished amid the rise of Ghana and the trans-Sarahan gold trade. In both lower Africa and the Pacific basin migrant pioneers laid the foundations of agricultural societies. This era also saw the remarkable growth of urban life in Mesoamerica in the age of the Maya. The political styles of the Aztec and Inca states were profoundly different. Even so, both enterprises demonstrated that human labor and creative endeavor could be organized on a colossal scale despite the absence of iron technology or wheeled transport. (NCHS)

Islamic Civilization. One of the most dramatic developments of this period was the rise of Islam as both a new world religion and a civilized tradition encompassing an immense part of the Eastern Hemisphere. Commanding the central region of Afro-Eurasia, the Islamic empire of the Abbasid dynasty became in the 8th-10th century period the principal intermediary for the exchange of goods, ideas, and technologies across the hemisphere. (NCHS)

Era 5. Increased Hemispheric Interaction

500ish to 1500

In this era the various regions of Eurasia and Africa became more firmly interconnected than at any time in history. The sailing ships that crossed the wide sea basins of the Eastern Hemisphere carried a greater volume and variety of goods than ever before. In fact, the chain of seas extending across the hemisphere came to form a single interlocking network of maritime trade. In the same centuries caravan traffic crossed the Inner Asian steppes and the Sahara Desert more frequently. As trade and travel intensified so did cultural exchanges and encounters, presenting local societies with a profusion of new opportunities and dangers. By the end of this era, the Eastern Hemisphere constituted a single zone of intercommunication possessing a unified history of its own.(NCHS)

Our global view presents three areas of focus for this time:

The Emergence of Europe. After the fall of Rome, Europe experienced remarkable growth. Western and Central Europe emerged as a new center of Christian civilization, expanding in agricultural production, population, commerce, and military might. Powerful European states presented a new challenge to the civilizations in the Mediterranean world. At the same time Europe was drawn more tightly into the commercial economy and cultural interchange of the hemisphere. (NCHS)

The Resurgence of the Orient. At the opposite side of the hemisphere, the Orient, especially China, experienced a burst of technological innovation, commercialization, and urbanization, emerging as the largest economy in the world. The prosperity and success of China drew the attention of Europe, linking the two regions across the hemisphere. (NCHS)

The Mongol Dominance. The second half of the era saw extraordinary developments in interregional history. The Mongols under Chinggis Khan created the largest land empire the world had ever seen. Operating from Poland to Korea and Siberia to Indonesia, the Mongol warlords intruded in one way or another on the lives of almost all peoples of Eurasia. The conquests were terrifying, but the stabilizing of Mongol rule led to a century of fertile commercial and cultural interchange across the continent. Eurasian unification, however, had a disastrous consequence in the 14th century--the Black Death and its attendant social impact on the two continents. (NCHS)

Era 6. The Great Global Convergence


The flow of History continues to radiate outward from the origin point. Our study of regional societies in global perspective comes together to an increasingly global society with regional perspectives. The challenge intensifies: maintain the emphasis on the general "peaks" without becoming trapped in the specific "valley." This era highlights three dimensions:

Education cultivated intellectual activity. Until this point, education had been restricted to elites and limited in scope. This begins to change. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment refocus attention on learning.

Exploration and discovery increased global connectivity. A geographic analysis of this area reveals the growing degrees of contact between regions. With the "discovery" of the New World the histories of two hemispheres become one. We will focus on the Columbian Exchange, the Great Dying, and the African Slave Trade.

Europe rose to world dominance. History teaches us that change accompanies time. The physical contact with far away lands and wonders accelerates European curiosity, creating a new focus. This era brings a shift in the economic center of gravity. A European revolution in military power and innovation, prompted by new resources, gave rise to strong states looking to become even stronger.

Era 7. Revolutions.

1770 ff

Map Tests

As students of World History, you must know the world you are studying. Geography and History intertwine. Of course you will work on period maps as you progress through time, but you must also know the modern world. To help make a contemporary, global connection, you will have a series of MAP TESTS throughout the year. You can read the instructions and link to the specific regions below. Remember, maps are your friends!

  • Region 1: North America
  • Region 2: Africa
  • Region 3: South America
  • Region 4: Asia
  • Region 5: Central America
  • Region 6: Europe
  • Region 7: Oceania
  • Advice for Students

    As a student you bear the responsibility for your own success. Are you fulfilling your obligations to give 100%? Remember, I willing to work with you before or after school. You must advocate for yourself.

    Final Examination

    Our study this year has taken us throughout the world--many places, many cultures, many interests. Rather than testing your content knowledge on material already tested, your Final Exam will test your skills--research and technology and creativity--to prepare a presentation on a UNESCO World Heritage site. This allows you the opportunity to emphasize a time and place in World History of your choosing.

    Read the details about the Final Examination here.