Goals

Making a Global World, 1500-2000 is intended to help students understand how the current highly interconnected world developed through the choices and activities of political leaders and their civil and military subordinates, adventurers, merchants, other types of business companies, individuals and groups voluntarily or involuntarily re-settling in another part of the world, thinkers, and people following their daily lives at home. It will examine the intertwining influence of individual thoughts and initiatives, collective beliefs and actions, and the physical environment on what nations, groups, households, and individuals could and did accomplish in creating the contemporary world.

Background

1500 marks a convenient breakpoint. People in all settled and nomadic communities were aware of others before 1500, but no one was aware of the entire Earth and all the peoples who live on it. This awareess began to develop after Europeans established contact with the long-isolated "new world" of the Western Hemisphere and began the process of systematically mapping the oceans and lands of the entire globe.

This change had little effect on most peoples' daily lives at first, though over the centuries increasing numbers experienced the advantages and disadvantages that the new contacts and new patterns of political and mercantile competition that arose. The big changes came with the industrial revolution of the early 19th century, which increased the capability gap between different political communities but also brought forth the communications and transportation technologies that brought peoples into greater contact.

20th century experience stands as a reminder that "globalization" is made by human choice, and can be un-done the same way. The "first globalization" of 1870 through 1914 was shattered by world war, depression, and ideological contention. The shape of the contemporary "second globalization" is the subject of strong contention.