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Higher School of Economics

Europe and the World, ca. 1500 to 1914

Higher School of Economics via Coursera

Overview

The course aims to introduce the audience to global history from the European discovery of the Americas to the coming of the First World War. These transformative four centuries of the human experience traditionally called Modern history saw the growing economic, military, and political ascendancy of the European states which. thus, lie at the heart of this course.
We are going to delve into the interplay of the large and long regional and global trends (longue durée) in the development of human societies, such as the agricultural and the industrial revolutions, and the political landmarks (some would claim, born out of contingency), such as the French Revolution of 1789.
After completing this course students would acquire an understanding of the major problems and themes as the main political events and milestones of the European and world modern history. This course might serve a good introduction to the history major.
The home assignments include peer assessment essays on the problematic topics from the lectures and simple multiple choice tests.

Syllabus

  • The World ca. 1500
    • This module is intended to familiarize the students with the world at the beginning of Modernity. You will learn about the main actors on the world stage, the key demographic trends which shaped the world's population up until the XVIth century, the differences between the Medieval and Early Modern societies and the main theoretical approaches to understanding Early Modernity. Try to recognize the general trends and patterns instead of memorizing the specifics.
  • The Age of Discovery
    • This module explores the Age of Discovery, the period of rapid expansion of geographic knowledge and the early stages of European expansion. You will learn how different societies learned about the world at large, what drove the Europeans to colonise the lands overseas, and how the imperial expansion was unfolding.
  • Reformation, Catholicism, Monarchies
    • This module explores the religions landscape of the early modern world. We will examine the most globally important religions, the changes brought by the Reformation to Christian Europe and the relationship between religion and authority in Early Modernity. Try to recognize the general trends and patterns instead of memorizing the specifics.
  • General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century
    • This module is an examination of the General Crisis of the XVII century. We will learn about the theoretical development of the idea of a global general crisis, the changes in climate and weather patterns that led to the crisis, and how they affected societies around the world. The main outcome is understanding how changes in climate, demography and other external factors inevitably impact human societies.
  • International Relations in Europe, 1453-1789
    • This module focuses on international relations in Europe in XV-XVIII centuries. It covers the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the Thirty Years' War, an the principles behind the Westphalian system of international relations. During this period, many of the foundations of the international relations system still relevant today were established, so it is crucially important to understand the underlying causes of the conflicts and the decisions that determined their outcomes.
  • The Great Divergence
    • This module examines the history of Early Modern China and the Great Divergence. We'll cover the crisi that led to the fall of the Ming dynasty, the founding of Qing and the eventual expansion of European influence over China during the XIX century. Of particular interest is the discussion of the causes of the Great Divergence and various theories proposed to explain it.
  • The French Revolution
    • This module explores the events and consequences of the French Revolution. In addition to the Revolution itself, we will explore the political and social consequences of Napoleonic Wars, the balance of international powers that was established after Napoleon's defeat and the Revolution's ideological legacy that in many ways still shapes the world today.
  • The Napoleonic Wars and the Vienna System
    • This module further expands on the subject of Napoleonic Wars and focuses on the Vienna system of international relations and the difficulties it faced in the XIX century. It covers the Napoleonic Wars in greater detail, as well as the Vienna congress, the revolutions of 1848, and the Crimean War. It may be useful to trace the connection between the Westphalian system, discussed earlier, the Vienna system and the current situation in international politics.
  • The Making of Modern Economy and Society: Economic Transformations and Labour
    • This module explores the Industrial Revolution, a period of rapid expansion of industrial production. Aside from the key technological changes and innovations, the Industrial Revolution brought on numerous social challenges and ideological innovations, including, for example, the issues of low standards of living in industrial cities and the widening economic and social gap between European and colonial societies. It's important to understand the complexity of the period and how its impact differed widely across different regions and social groups.
  • Empires and Nations, Revolutions and Reforms: the Long NineteenthCentury
    • This module explores the history of the XIX century. In addition to important political developments of the era, we will focus on the concepts of empire, nation-state and their interrelations, and various approaches to understanding them. The ideas surrounding the development of the nation state are especially important due to their relevance to contemporary international politics.
  • Asian and African Societies Confronting Europe
    • This module is about the challenges Asian and African societies faced in the era of European expansion. We will examine both the colonial expansion and the resistance to it, as well as the modernization and reforms in Asian and African countries striving to maintain their independence.
  • The World at 1900
    • This module examines the world at the beginning of the XX century. You will learn about the main actors on the world stage, the dominant economic system established by the end of the XIX century, and the ideas that would go on to influence and shape the society in the next century.

Taught by

Andrey Iserov

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