Unit Overviews


Unit 1 – The First Global Age (1200-1750 C.E.)


Conceptual Lens:


Power (Movement)


Unit Overview:

This teaching unit will help students understand and appreciate the first global age of international relations from 1200-1750 C.E. Several major technological innovations and inventions propelled the first global age. Navigation technology increased the speed and accuracy of ships. Weaponry, especially gun powder, revolutionized warfare and created the opportunity for conquest of less technologically advanced societies. Innovation of moveable type and mass-production of books and pamphlets allowed for the spread of ideas and improved communication across the globe.

In addition to technological innovation, development of the scientific method led to a scientific revolution that placed the sun at the center of the solar system and the force of gravity. Scientists began to publish their findings and organize scientific societies for the sharing of discoveries. As a result, it appeared that every day there was a new scientific discovery. Scientific principles were then applied to the social sciences – history, government, economy, anthropology, sociology – and led to the Enlightenment.

Once man was no longer the center of the universe and it became acceptable to question the laws of nature, it began to call into question many of the religious teachings being espoused by the major religions, especially Christianity. Many early Christians had accepted the monotheistic teachings of Jesus and the Biblical scriptures, but continued to practice traditional beliefs and “magic” which led to the witch hunts of the age. As the ideals of humanism and the Enlightenment took root, major conflicts between the teachings of the Catholic Church and various groups began. In addition, powerful monarchies resented prostrating themselves before the Catholic Church and the papacy. As a result of these factors, the Protestant Reformation and Counter Reformation formally divided Christians into Protestants and Catholics. Many leaders of the Protestant Reformation would go on to create their own denominations.

The technology, science, humanism, and religion fed the desire for wealth and power. Nations began to look outside of their borders for natural resources and goods to meet their needs and satiate their wants. As a result of the Columbian exchange, foods, plants, animals, and diseases were transported from the Americas throughout the world. These contacts would serve as the foundation for colonialism.

This unit leads teachers and students to understand the colonial foundation and the role of Enlightenment leaders played in the major political, technological, and economic revolutions of the 1700’s – early 1900’s.

Unit 2 – Age of Revolutions (1700’s – early 1900’s C.E.)


Conceptual Lens:


Power (Conflict & Change)


Unit Overview:

This teaching unit will help students understand the Age of Revolutions from 1700 – early 1900’s. Leaders of the Enlightenment brought about a Scientific Revolution that encouraged experimentation and the sharing of ideas. As a result of new understandings and humanistic beliefs, man’s relationship with nature, man’s relationship with man, and man’s relationship to the government were redefined. The redefined relationships led to major political and societal changes as evidenced by the English Revolutions (Puritan Revolt and the Glorious Revolution), the American Revolution, and the French Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution began as man shifted from human/animal power to machines powered by water and fossil fuels. Interchangeable parts and assembly lines propelled the industrial revolution. Factories could more quickly and efficiently mass produce goods and required a great deal of labor to man and repair the machines. Class distinctions and social status became more mobile through the market economies.

The revolutions created new international alliances. Treaties guaranteed political, military, and economic support that would serve as the foundation for the international conflicts of the 1900’s. However, many countries chose isolationism and independence from European trading companies and these isolationist policies also escalated the conflicts of the 1900’s.

Unit 3 – A Half-Century of Crisis & Achievement (early 1900’s – 1970’s C.E.)

Conceptual Lens:


Power (Change)


Unit Overview:

This teaching unit will help students understand a Half-Century of Crisis & Achievement (early 1900’s – 1970’s. New international alliances, treaties, fight to maintain national identities, revolutions, and independence movements established a foundation for the political crisis that dominated this time period. Financial crisis, in the form of the Great Depression, drove already fragile countries as a result of World War I into a tailspin. Millions of people unemployed, wages dropping, and an ever-increasing sense of insecurity contributed to the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. Efforts to regain Germany’s national identity and power gave rise to Hitler and served as a catalyst for World War II.

When the dust settled, two superpowers emerged - the United States of America and the Soviet Union. With weakened European political and economic systems, decolonization and independence movements became the cry heard throughout Africa and Southeast Asia. Colonial powers continued to exert force and use of their allies to try and maintain a hold on their colonies. In addition, the ideas of communism were spreading to the decolonized, newly formed countries. Communist ideals clashed with the ideals of democracy and capitalism. So, in order to prevent the spread of Communism and to promote democracy, crisis arose in places like Korea and Vietnam and resulted in the Cold War between the Soviets and the Americans – as both had demonstrated nuclear supremacy.

Despite all the political and economic problems, this was a time of great technological innovation. The Manhattan Project that gave birth to the atomic bomb also placed a greater emphasis on science which would lead to the race for Space and new technologies. Communication systems, transportation systems, and cultural institutions were greatly impacted by the mass production of telephones, cars, video, and computer technology.

These events created a sense of promise for the future but also set up many paradoxes or contradictions that contained within them a grain of truth.

Unit 4 – Promises & Paradoxes (early 1970’s – into the Future)


Conceptual Lens:


Power (Rights & Responsibilities)


Unit Overview:

This teaching unit will help students understand help students understand the promises and paradoxes that the recent past and near future holds for the people of Earth. The unit establishes three major trends that manifested and continue to manifest.

The first trend was that global populations exploded. Despite efforts by some countries to limit population growth, the fact remains that the world’s population is rapidly-increasing. While the reasons for population growth can be seen in a positive light (increased agricultural/food production and better health care), the negatives maybe far reaching from: strain on natural resources; extreme competition for fewer jobs; increased urbanization; and, conflicts between the “haves” and the “have-nots” as well as urban and rural populations.

The second major trend is the role that technology has/is played/playing in revolutionizing communication and transportation. Computers went from taking up acreage to microscopic. Almost every gizmo or gadget has some level of computer technology. Four key laws of technology (although some critics still see these as theories due to lack of time) suggests that the growth of technology will accelerate exponentially.

·         Moore’s Law – The processing power of a microchip doubles every 18 months. (This law has been applied to other technologies, as well.)

·         Gilder’s Law – The total bandwidth of communication systems triple every 12 months.

·         Metcalfe’s Law – The value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes; so, as a network grows, the value of being connected to it grows exponentially, while the cost per user remains the same or even reduces.

·         Kurzweil’s Law – Law of Accelerating Returns – “An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So, we won’t experience a 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” – Kurzweil, 2001.

o    “Any automated process will experience continual exponential increase in speed and/or exponential decreases in costs.

o    More processes will become capable of automation (due to increases in the capability of technology in general and information technology in particular)…” Azimuthproject, 2011.

The third trend is that global shifts in social, economic and political arrangements have and will continue to occur. Combined with the previous two trends it suggests that the future shifts will be significant as the roles of women will be revised; power balances will shift; commercial organizations will increase and broaden their power base; and natural disasters will occur

The future is that which is yet to happen. So, by the time you have read this, the next second will quickly be the future that has passed into the past. While we can predict the future and our accuracy judged by future historians, there is no escaping the fact that whatever will happen, will have its roots securely in the past. Thus, we build our future on the achievements and failures of our predecessors.

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