Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Free European History Courses

Several universities are putting complete courses online for free now. Visitors can peruse course materials and watch lectures even if they do not get any academic credit for it. MIT is probably the best known for this but some other schools are as well including Notre Dame and the University of Washington.

Here are three example courses dealing with European history:

The Ancient World: Rome - This MIT course is from 2005. This course elaborates the history of Rome from its humble beginnings to the fifth century A.D. The first half of the course covers Kingship to Republican form; the conquest of Italy; Roman expansion: Pyrrhus, Punic Wars and provinces; classes, courts, and the Roman revolution; Augustus and the formation of empire. The second half of the course covers Virgil to the Vandals; major social, economic, political and religious trends at Rome and in the provinces. Emphasis is placed on the use of primary sources in translation.

The Making of Modern Europe - This is a UC Berkley course from 2008. This introductory course provides essential background to an understanding of Europe today by surveying the elements of its past that went into its making. It begins, roughly, with the "Closing" of Europe to the Islamic world after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. It ends with Europe's Re-opening, in the late 20th and early 21st century, symbolized, in part, by the Balkan conflict in the 1990s. As it covers these five and a half centuries, it will look at major landmarks in Europe's social, political, and intellectual development: the Renaissance, the expansion of Europe into the Americas, the breakup of a single Western Christendom into competing religious communities, the construction of the modern state, the Enlightenment, the European revolutions, industrialization, socialism, nationalism, imperialism, Communism and Nazism, the two World Wars, decolonialization, the Cold War, cultural changes in the post-war period, and the breakup of Communism in Eastern Europe. It will close with the continent's current reconfiguration, as former patterns of migration have moved into reverse and the non-European world expands into Europe.

Nineteenth Century Europe - This is a University of Massachusetts from 2008. The course is a political, social and cultural history of Europe from 1815 to 1900, including the history of each major European nation.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Historical Thinking Matters

Historical Thinking Matters - This site focuses on key topics in U.S. history in order to teach students how to read primary sources critically. It also stresses to students how to critique and construct historical narratives.

It is a project of the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, and School of Education, Stanford University with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and additional support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It was also the winner of the American Historical Association's 2008 James Harvey Robinson Prize for an Outstanding Teaching Aid.

From the site:


Historical Thinking Matters is divided into three key sections that can be accessed from the homepage.

Why Historical Thinking Matters:

This Flash movie presents the pedagogical perspective of the site and introduces the concepts and strategies that students will use as they complete the four modules. This section requires a Macromedia Flash Player plug-in (Download) After clicking on “View Why Historical Thinking Matters,” the movie will launch. Follow the prompts on the screen to view the sections of the movie and to complete the interactive elements of the presentation.

Student Investigations:

HTM includes four student investigations that focus on key topics in the standard post-Civil War U.S. History curriculum, which can be accessed by clicking on the images in the center of the homepage, or through the Student Investigations page. Each investigation is composed of the same five elements.