The West and the Rest

Discipline: History
Instructor: Walker
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 1 - Saturday, 19 September | Italy Download Syllabus

Historians, geographers and social scientists have all grappled with the question of why human development advanced at such different rates on different continents for the last 13,000 years. This course will examine diverse perspectives on the historical differences between Western and non-Western societies in terms of political development, industrialization and economic growth, military power, and cultural, social and religious norms. An emphasis will be placed on regions that are on our itinerary, namely Western Europe, Africa and the Americas. Issues to be discussed will include why the West during the past three hundred years desired and was able to colonize much of the non-Western world, the nature of those empires and why they eventually went into decline to be replaced by independent nation states. The course will also investigate the global implications of the gathering and eventually dominant economic, political and cultural influence of the United States in the 20th century, and conclude with a discussion of the concept of ‘American Exceptionalism” in the context of the end of the Cold War, the spread of democracy, the globalization of the world economy, the rise of a radical Islam, and the emergence of strong regional powers.

Field Work

Country: Italy
Day: 1 - Saturday, 19 September

This Field Lab will be take us to the city of Rome where we will engage with the issue of why the Romans are considered to have laid the foundations for western civilization. We will be accompanied by a prominent Italian expert seeped in Roman history who will take us back in time as we explore key historical sites and discuss why Rome has achieved its preeminent stature in the early history of the West. In the Field Lab assignment, students will be asked to select a Roman building / construction project/ invention or piece of art that they believe is emblematic of the Rome’s rise to ‘greatness,’ and to prepare a written report and short presentation defending that point of view. Academic objectives: 1. To gain an understanding of what was significant about the Roman Empire 2. To appreciate what was noteworthy about Roman art and architecture