Global Histories Syllabus

People, Processes, and the Environment

79-104, Fall 2016

Benjamin Reilly (Professor)

Office Hours: By appointment, or whenever my door is open

Aaron Jacobson (TA)

Located in the ARC for your convenience

Course Web Address:

All written work must be submitted to

Course Name: World History Fall 2016 Class ID 13101127 (Ben's Section) Class ID 13318763 (Aaron's Section) Course Password: freshmen (both Sections)

Please put your name on all work, and save it in an MS World readable format

For example: rich text, Google Docs, Open Office, etc.

Course Goals
The overall goals of this class are to:
  • Assist the transition between high school and college-level academic expectations
  • Introduce students to history as an academic discipline
  • Introduce students with some of the major milestones of world history
  • Improve student research and writing skills
  • Introduce students to basic techniques of documentary analysis
  • Increase student knowledge of historical and contemporary environmental issues
Students successfully completing the class will show proficiency in the following areas:
  • Identifying, explaining, and applying key concepts of the historical profession
  • Breaking arguments into evidence, conclusion and assumptions, as well as common logical flaws
  • Demonstrating knowledge concerning important topics of world history, especially the impact of natural and human-induced climate change on human history
  • Distinguishing between different type of documents and identify each document’s tone, bias, intended audience, assumptions, and omissions
  • Writing analytical essays that pose an argument and defend it with relevant information from primary or secondary source texts

In terms of subject matter, this course will tackle the entirety of the human past, though with an extremely wide lens, focusing primarily on long-term trends. Greater depth will be provided by occasional comparative case studies, in which we will examine how universal human needs (subsistence, identity, social order) are handled differently in different environmental, cultural, and technological settings.


No paper books are assigned for this class; all reading will be available either through this web site via hyperlinks (if not copyright protected) or else on Blackboard (if copyright protection applies).

Lectures, Workshops, and Discussion Sections

Lecture classes will meet Sundays, 10:30-11:20, and are attended by the entire class. The lectures are designed to introduce students to major milestones in World History, as well as to introduce students to basic terms/concepts used in the historical profession. They will also provide the bulk of the content tested in the quizzes and the Final exam: click HERE for a list of all terms that will be covered in the class , as well as the days the terms will be introduced. Cell phone usage is prohibited during class, and laptops should only be used for note taking and/or accessing online readings.

In the Workshop classes, which will take place Tuesday mornings or afternoons (check your schedule for when), the class will be broken down into smaller sections of about 20, and will meet with either the professor or the teaching assistant. In the workshop classes, students will work with the instructors on developing crucial course skills like note taking, essay writing, proper citation of sources, and research habits. The 3 course quizzes will take place during workshop classes, as well as debates, in-class assignments, etc. In general, the workshop sessions focus on team work, and more class participation points will be assigned to successful teams.

Discussion sections will meet on Thursday mornings or afternoons (check your schedule for when), the class will again be broken down into smaller sections of about 20, and will meet with either one of the main instructors or the teaching assistant. Discussion sections will mainly revolve around class discussion of the assigned document. Students are expected to read the documents- which are be accessed from links on this web site- and to think over the assigned discussion questions before coming to class. During discussion sections, students are expected to demonstrate their critical thinking skills by participating actively engaging in an analytical discussion of the assigned materials- students must be prepared to answer questions posed to them, as well as ask informed questions and raise relevant issues about the text. In particular, students are encouraged to consider the content and style of the document: for example, what was goal of the author, what are his/her biases, and what was the intended audience? Most importantly, what does this document tell us about the culture which produced it? Students who participate actively in the class discussion will earn class participation points.

Students who are absent will not earn class participation, nor will students who attend but browse the internet on their phones or laptop during class!

Assignments and Grading
Grade Schema

Grades will be assigned based on the following schema:

  • Short Assignments (eight total) 20%
  • Research Paper 20%
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Final Exam 20%
  • Class Participation 20%
Short Assignments

There are two types of short assignments in this class: 2 pass/fail assignments and 6 short essays.

The pass/fail worksheets are due at the times specified by the course calendar. These assignments will earn the student an automatic 100% when completed to the instructor’s satisfaction; if not, they will be returned to the students for revision, with comments.

In addition, students must turn in a total of 6 short one-page essay assignments, at least 3 of which must be submitted before the middle of the semester (see the course schedule below). Each of these essays must answer one of the “discussion questions” listed at the top of the week’s readings. Click on any of the “discussion” listings below to see a sample list of questions. The assignments must be submitted at the recitation sections that discuss the assigned source. Students may only submit one question per week; this means that students had better start early and submit at least one every other week or else they will run out of time by the semester’s end. Students must answer the questions in an essay format, with a clearly-articulated one-paragraph introduction, several body paragraphs to support that introduction, and a brief conclusion. The short assignments will be graded on your ability to formulate a convincing argument, firmly based on evidence from the attached document, which clearly addresses the question asked. Please do not hesitate to contact myself or the Academic Resource Center (ARC) staff for help. For further assistance, click here for a sample essay . For the essay grading rubric, click here. NEW: Click here for a double-sided info sheet with strategies for tackling primary and secondary sources!

Research Paper

Students must complete one long research paper of approximately 6-8 pages length and utilizing 3-5 academic sources. In the term paper, students will be graded on clarity, style, and the use of appropriate evidence to defend a clearly-articulated argument Click here for the term paper rubric, which is the same as for the short assignments. Purely narrative papers- which tell a story rather than analyzing an issue- will receive poor grades. Again, please do not hesitate to contact myself or the Academic Resource Center for help. Click here for a list of sample term paper topics . Click here for a sample term paper . Students will learn more about collecting and assessing documents for their term paper in the Carnegie Skills Workshop course, which is paired with this class.

Given the requirement for written sources, students are expected to take initiative and order sources as soon as possible in the semester through interlibrary loan.

The second pass-fail assignment is designed to help students prepare for the term paper assignment, and we will also spend some time doing term paper prep activities in the Workshop sessions of the class.

PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism means to take the ideas, writing, or arguments of others and pass them off as your own. It includes:

  • Downloading a paper, wholly or partially, from the internet
  • Including another author’s words in your paper without proper attribution
  • Sharing your own paper with another student
  • Using someone else’s ideas, which are their intellectual property, without attribution.
  • Getting someone else to write your paper for you. This is a SERIOUS offence – you may be asked to explain your ideas orally to the instructor if we suspect an infraction has occurred. Students who share their written materials with others are also guilty of.
All cases of plagiarism will be handled severely, and the most common applied penalty will be failure in the course. Note that all assignments must be submitted via PLAGIARIZISM HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN THE MAIN REASON STUDENTS FAIL THIS COURSE!

If you quote directly from a book, website, or other source, or if you want to use the ideas/opinions/conclusions of another author in your writings, you must enclose that material in quotation marks and indicate the source using a footnote (click here for a guide on how to include footnotes in a text).


At three designated “workshop” days during the semester, class will start with a short “term linking quiz”, where students will be expected to show mastery of concepts taught in class up to that point by making linkages between different concepts drawn from the Sunday course lectures. During the quiz, students will be presented with pairs of these terms and asked to describe, in no more than a paragraph, the relationship between the terms. There is no set right or wrong answers on these quizzes, but to achieve high marks, students must come up with a convincing link between the two terms and defend it with a persuasive argument. Students who only define the two terms, but do not link them, will receive no more than half marks. Click here for an example of possible answers to a typical set of paired terms, and click here for a list of terms that will be covered in this class . The quizzes are expected to take up only about half of the workshop classes.

Note that all quizzes will be cumulative- the second quiz, for example, might ask students to link a term from week 2 with week 6, and the third quiz might ask students to link terms from week 3 and 13!
Final Exam

The final exam will be given during finals week at a time and location TBD and will cover material from the lectures, reading, and discussion sections for the first half of the course. All you need to bring to the exams are two pens; examination “bluebooks” will be provided. Make-up examinations will only be given in the case of illness or a serious family emergency, and notification must be given in writing. Each exam will consist of two parts, term matching and essay. The term matching section will be identical to the term matching quizzes, though it will cover material for the entire course. In the essay section, students will be presented with a short document, either primary or secondary, and then students must choose and answer one of a number of essay questions requiring them to relate that document to materials covered in lecture and other documents we have read in class. This portion of the exam is to test skills that students should be developing during the recitation sections and short essays. Grading will follow the grading rubric for essays (click here for the rubric). Click HERE for a list of all terms that will be covered in the class.

Class Participation

Students are expected to participate actively in both the workshop and the discussion sections; see above for more details. Students can guarantee themselves full class participation marks if they come to discussion sections well prepared (with the readings or other assigned materials in hand) and are ready to speak, and listen, to other students. It is not necessary to have brilliant insights every week to receive high marks- regular attendance and active, informed participation will be sufficient.

Class participation is grades as follows. Attendance in lecture is not counted (but you will suffer in the quizzes and exam if you skip).In workshops, attendance (with the class materials) is worth 1 mark, while successful completion of a competition earns all members of the winning team 1 mark. In recitation, attendance (with the class materials) is worth1 mark, while meaningful participation in the discussion will earn 2 or even 3 marks. At midterm and final each student’s marks will be tallied and then located on a bell curve. Students who get an average number of aggregate marks will get an average class participation grade (“average” to be defined by the instructors at the time grades are assigned). Those with higher than average and lower than average marks will earn higher or lower class participation grades, and thus higher or lower fractions of the 20-points contributed by class participation to their overall grade.

Pass/Fail 1
The first pass/fail assignment, due Tuesday August 30, requires that you make a concept map that shows how you think history works- in other words, what drives history? What have the main trends been over time? Where is history going? Is it driven by culture, religion, economy, etc? Click here for a template, in microsoft publisher, that discusses the assignment further . You may however use any program to create the concept map- just save it as a jpg or other easily readable image file. Here are some sample concept maps that could serve as models and/or stimulate your thinking: Generic "it's all connected!" mindmap; Marxist world view mindmap; Social Darwinist mindmap; Environmentalist world view mindmap; Environmentalist world view mindmap; American Neoconservative world view mindmap; Ben Reilly's view of History.

LATE WORK POLICY: Papers that are received after the due date are marked down 10% for the first day, 20% for the second day, and 30% for the third. After the third day the student will receive a 0 on the assignment. For the purposes of this policy, any work received on the day of class but after the start time of the class is assessed the 10% penalty.

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