You will learn the significant forces, ideas, events and people that have influenced the role of the United States in the world in the twentieth century.
These often revolve around the following issues: the revolutionary transformation of daily life by new science and technologies; a global economic interdependence arising out of rapid industrialization and urbanization; the tensions within and between modern states concerning political leadership and the role of the individual, as complicated by mass political movements and ideologies like Marxism, Fascism and Nationalism; the conflicts among evolving, ascendant and declining social classes and interest groups; the profusion, or confusion, of new artistic, entertainment and informational media; and the conflicts among diverse and competing philosophies and religions.
This course will stress these basic themes, supported by the evaluation of factual data.
This Core Curriculum requirement is the last course in the Civilization sequence.
Civilization courses are 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."
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