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Leiden University

The Rooseveltian Century

Leiden University via Coursera


This course uses the lives, ideals and achievements of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt to create the idea of a Rooseveltian century. It is about doing research, analyzing primary sources, and connecting all this information with a coherent and logical interpretation. It is an invitation to think critically and historically, and it wants to give you a glimpse of what it means to be a historian at work. We are convinced that the three Roosevelts – the 3Rs, as we will refer to them throughout this course – profoundly shaped the twentieth century. This course shows you why we think so and which paradigms, ideas, and sources we use to uphold our claim. But this course also asks you to give your opinion, and ground it on your own research findings. The structure of the course is straightforward: - An introductory module gives you the biographical information you need to connect the personal stories of the 3Rs with the major events of the twentieth century; - Module 2 explains how the 3Rs reframed our thinking on security, broadening its meaning and reconfiguring the government’s role in providing it; - Module 3, focusing on equality, shows how the 3Rs changed the relationship between leaders and led, rejected laissez-faire economics, and supported a politics of intervention to overcome the inequalities that undermined social cohesion; - Module 4 describes how the 3Rs promoted and protected the freedom of ordinary citizens, and communicated that as one of their central political goals; - Module 5 summarizes the long-lasting legacies of the 3Rs, and asks for your opinion on the Rooseveltian century. Do you agree with this interpretation of our recent past – and our possible futures? The five modules contain quizzes to test your knowledge and understanding, discussion prompts to stimulate your creativity, and research guidance and assignments to sharpen up your historical skills. We hope you will enjoy this intellectual journey!


  • Introduction
    • This module focuses on the foundational elements of this course. It explores the biographies of the 3Rs, their public achievements, and what motivated them to become the major public figures that we recognise today. The overall learning goal is to make students aware of the connections between the bios of the 3Rs and the rise of the U.S. as a global power in the twentieth century.
  • Security
    • This module focuses on the concept of security and how each of the Roosevelts understood it and defined it in their own way. Students will learn the distinction between national, social, and human security and will assess the influence of the 3Rs in expanding the meaning of security and how we use the word today.
  • Equality
    • This module focuses on the concepts of equality and social justice. Students will learn to identify how the 3Rs contributed to the promotion of social, political and economic equality and will be able to recognize their most lasting achievements in securing equality and social justice in the United States and around the world.
  • Freedom
    • This module focuses on the ideas and ideals of freedom that the 3Rs promoted throughout their lives. Students will see how the 3Rs put forward a multi-dimensional understanding of freedom, covering many different rights and liberties.
  • Legacies
    • This module focuses on the Rooseveltian legacy. Students will learn to recognize the innovative elements that the 3Rs brought to modern-day politics, and how their legacies live on through their particular skills and achievements as political campaigners, administrative innovators, popular mobilisers, multi-media communicators, and wide-ranging reformers.

Taught by

Giles Scott-Smith


4.4 rating at Coursera based on 54 ratings

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