Spring 2025 | Asia, Africa, and Europe Exploration

HIST 171 World History, 1500-Present

Overview of Course

Why are peace, justice, and human rights so fragile in the 21st century, and what are people and nations doing to promote a secure, just, and free future for all? HIST 171 will tackle this weighty question through historical inquiry into key developments shaping the modern world since 1500, focusing on the cities we visit in East Asia, Africa, and Europe. HIST 171 will emphasize sources and manifestations of contradiction in the modern era, highlighting global developments since 1500 that have produced unique forms of human injustice and environmental degradation while simultaneously encouraging bold demands for human rights, democratic governance, and environmental stewardship. HIST 171 will begin by examining European exploration, migration, trade, and imperial expansion in the early modern era. We will then examine the spread of colonialism and the rise of resistance to it; the development of racialized slavery and the emergence of abolitionism; the rise of independent nation-states that idealized human rights but failed to practice equality; gains and losses for humanity associated with modern science, technology, industrialization, and urbanization; modern structural hierarchies and efforts to dismantle inequalities of class, caste, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, faith and nation; differences between extractive and ecological approaches to the environment; and the emergence of fascism, communism, theocracy, authoritarianism and totalitarianism as particular versions of modernity. Finally, we will consider inspirational efforts to defend liberal democracy in the 21st century as nations face global threats to the environment and human health along with new forms of instability, warfare, and authoritarian rule.