World history is closely related to ‘globalisation’. World history traces the historical origins and development of this phenomenon. Contacts between civilisations are as old as humanity itself; people, ideas, technology and diseases have always travelled. World history forces Europe to look at itself anew and to face the fact that, for a very long time, it has only played a very marginal role in the story of human civilisation. Precisely because Europeans have the inclination to look at their own history as if it were some kind of autonomous process, it is important to stress the close interdependency that has always existed between this continent and other parts of the world. World historians, for example, emphasise: the role of climatic and environmental factors, the importance of disease, human migration, trade, exchange of ideas and technology, and the part played by the emergence and spread of intellectual networks. Consequently, these (and other) subjects form the contents of this module.
At the end of this course, students will have:
• Become familiar with theory, historiography and methodology of historical sociology, combining a macro-historical and a macro-sociological approach;
• Gained insight in some of the basic patterns in the history of civilisation and in the way in which society has evolved over time;
• Learned about the historical background of ‘globalisation’ and thus will have gained insight into the factors that have helped to shape the modern world-system;
• Learned about the historical background of the current distribution of wealth and poverty amongst different parts of the world;
• Gained insight into the development of the relationship between man and environment, demonstrating how environmental factors have influenced the history of civilisation and vice versa;
• Learned to look at European history from an ‘external’ perspective, i.e. as part of a wider pattern of natural factors as well as economic and cultural exchanges that have always encompassed larger parts of the world or -from the 16th century-the globe as a whole.
• McNeill, W.H. & McNeill, J.R. (2003) The human web. A bird’s eye view of human history. New York: W.W. Norton. • C. Ponting (1991), A green history of the world, New York: Penguin.