World history final paper
Prompt #1:​Thomas Carlyle wrote in 1840: “Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the…creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are…the result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men.” This has come to be known as the “Great Man” theory of history—the idea that all historical change has occurred because of the actions of “great” individuals. More recently, many historians have focused less on individuals and more on groups, movements, or social classes to explain why things change.This course covers a series of massive, far-reaching changes in the world as we developed from the medieval period to our present-day, modern society. What do you think is the primary cause or “driver” of change? Great individuals, as Carlyle suggests? If so, which individuals do you think have been most effective at causing change, and which character traits, abilities, or other factors do you think make certain individuals so effective? Or, do you think that change is more often accomplished by groups (social classes, political movements, religious organizations, or even armies)? If so, which groups do you think have been most successful at changing the world, and why?
Prompt #2:​Consider the terms colonialism and imperialism. This description by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy may be helpful: “Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. One of the difficulties in defining colonialism is that it is hard to distinguish it from imperialism…Like colonialism, imperialism also involves political and economic control over a dependent territory. The etymology of the two terms, however, provides some clues about how they differ. The term colony comes from the Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involved the transfer of population to a new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to their country of origin. Imperialism, on the other hand, comes from the Latin term imperium, meaning to command. Thus, the term imperialism draws attention to the way that one country exercises power over another, whether through settlement, sovereignty, or indirect mechanisms of control.” Peoples who were never actually colonized could still be affected by the power dynamics of imperialism—consider the case of China in the 19th century. Consider also that imperialism could be political, economic, or even cultural. In what ways did European colonialism and/or imperialism shape the world as we know it today? What effects did colonialism and imperialism have on the non-European nations and peoples who were the targets (some might say “victims”) of colonization and imperialism?


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