King's College History Department

CORE 181
American Civilization to 1914

Specific Syllabi

Name Dr. Curran Mr. Fedrick Dr. Fry Ms. Kase Ms. Fabbri
Section          

Master Syllabus

I. Description:

You will learn the significant forces, ideas, events and people that have influenced the role of the United States before the twentieth century.

II. Purpose:

A. Mission Statement:

This Core Curriculum requirement is part of the American Studies category.

This course is designed to explore in some depth the complex dimensions of our world and the cumulative experience of the past, to provide an understanding of how yesterday influences today and the outlook for tomorrow. We study the major developments of the 20th century because most of the problems and institutions of contemporary society have obvious roots in the recent historical past.

We offer this course as part of your general education requirements because it is important for educated citizens to be familiar with today's world civilizations and recognize them as historically interacting forces which have produced important forms of political, social, and economic organization. You should understand that most of the structures within which we order our lives are products of this evolution. Historians believe that past human behavior can be studied scientifically and that social scientists can improve our understanding of people in the present.

Further, whatever your major or career goals may be, throughout your lives you will be deluged with information, opinion, and interpretations about events which you should be able to evaluate critically. Answering questions and solving problems by critical analysis -- not just memorization of data -- is a basic goal of education. Information is just the raw material in this process and, though rational analysis must be based on factual data, memorizing tidbits of information is not an end in itself. Our real goal is to develop concepts which give order and meaning to the raw material of our recorded past. Doing this requires comprehension beyond minimal factual details of past events. Major emphasis will be on patterns, themes, and concepts against which the factual data must be understood.

We hope that upon successful completion of this course you will have improved your understanding of world civilizations and become a more perceptive judge of the data, opinions, interpretations and explanations continuously offered to you. This process, indeed, should last your whole life, since (paraphrasing the observation of the distinguished professional historian Carl L. Becker from 1931) "Ultimately, every person is their own historian."

B. Objectives for the student:

  1. To be familiar with the main stages of American civilization as an expanding force that has produced important forms of political, social, economic and cultural organization which are our common heritage.
  2. To identify major events, persons and ideas that contributed to the development of American, Western and non-Western attitudes and institutions.
  3. To develop concepts which give meaning and order to the raw material of our recorded past.
  4. To identify and analyze significant problems and situations as they relate to the continuing issues of contemporary life.

C. Goals for the student:

  1. To improve understanding of the major events which have influenced the modern world.
  2. To be an intelligent consumer and evaluator of information about world events.
  3. To develop a global perspective which recognizes the political, economic and cultural interdependence of all nations.
  4. To understand the influence of the past on contemporary events and problems or, in other words, to develop Historical Mindedness.

D. General Learning Outcomes for the student:

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course has some general liberal-learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

  1. To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.
  2. To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.
  3. To differentiate between facts, opinions and inferences.
  4. To frame questions so as to more clearly clarify a problem topic or issue.
  5. To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.
  6. To organize your thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in written form.
  7. To obtain practice in selecting and presenting information and arguments within a restricted environment, especially the limitations of time in exams.

III. General Requirements


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