for HIS 101, 102, 111 and 112

Well, I've combined the introduction remarks for my four courses, since I say basically the same thing for every course.  You are now beginning your study of the history and culture of the world, covering the period from about 3000 bce to about 1600 ce for HIS 101 and HIS 111; and for HIS 102 and 112 covering from about 1600 ce to the present.  In this course, you will learn about some of the important political, economic, social, intellectual, cultural and religious changes that occurred in this long period of time and reach some understanding of how these changes shaped world civilizations.  In addition, you will learn how to read, analyze and evaluate historical primary documents.  The course will be taught using materials on the web, and all study aids and materials necessary for your success in the course are part of this website, except for the textbook and required paperbacks.
For your success in this course, it is imperative that you maintain a steady pace through the course and do not fall behind.  If a problem does arise, please contact your instructor.

What is history and what do historians do?  Thucydides, the Greek historian, said that "history is philosophy learned from examples."  Basically, historians have two tasks.  The first, and more straightforward, is to reconstruct accurately the course of past events.  Why do historians reconstruct what happened?  The answer to this reveals a historian's second goal:  to answer why things happened as they did.  In other words, historians search for elements of causation; they seek to identify what caused events to occur the way that they did.  To arrive at a hypothesis of why something happened, historians engage in the process of critical thinking and analysis.  They gather information, examine and analyze it, synthesize, critique and then arrive at a possible explanation, which they then proceed to test and evaluate for accuracy.  In this course, you will not only be learning the events of the past (task 1), but you will also be learning the skills that historians use in studying the past so that you too can analyze the past (task 2).

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