• The Mongols

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 12/12/2017

    One of the more interesting developments of the Mongol Empire was that they were ferocious warriors, yet extraordinarily tolerant rulers.  

     

    Why do you think this was?  

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  • Medieval Europe

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 11/22/2017

    I find one of the most interesting aspects of this unit is the divide between myth and reality around the Middle Ages of Western Europe. In movies, TV  shows, books, and online gaming worlds we have a romanticized vision of the period. Filled with mythological creatures, heroic warriors, and damsels needing to be saved, the era has a sanitized quality about it with a lack of clarity on its true reality.

    Watch the Lord of the Rings series, and you see valiant (albeit short) warriors battling it out with an unseen evil filled by a cast of wizards, elves, dwarfs, orcs, uruk-hai, etc. We see the joy at the return of a king, whose claim to power is not based on his ability (even though he is pretty cool), but based on the fact that some three thousand years previous, his relative got greedy, took a ring, and drowned in a river. So he gets ultimate authority? That's some method for determining power!

    Today we agonize about elections, debate them, discuss them, and yet we idolize and collectively fantasize about a non-existent place where authority was based on the sword and kin, rather than ability.

    Why? What is it about this period that has so captured our imaginations, and stoked our creative fires for so long? Why do people spend hours online pretending to a dwarf mage, and not a cowboy? Or a Roman centurion? What is it about this era that captivates us so much?

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  • Islamic Civilization

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 11/3/2017

    During the Reformation period Europe was consumed by both political and religious turmoil. Europe seemed to take stock of itself and reevaluated how it was acting in the world. There were changes within the Church and outside of it that corrected many of the abuses that had started in the High Middle Ages, and only grew during the Italian Renaissance. Many contend that this reform was instrumental in forming modern Europe and eliminating many of the bad practices of the period.

    Currently, many have contended that the Islamic world needs a Reformation of its own that mirrors this period. Several years ago about this time the Pope weighed in on this issue in what has become a highly controversial speech. 

    For reference, here is an article on this issue.
     
    Moreover, this past week Ben Affleck and comedian Bill Maher got in a nasty tussle over the nature of Islam itself, with accusations of racism uttered.  For your edification, here is the video, and a more thorough analysis of the issues at hand. 
     
     
    What do you think? Does the Islamic world need a Reformation like the one in Europe?
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  • Post Classical China

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 10/27/2017

    China has been the dominant state in East Asia for thousands of years. During the 20th century, China dramatically dropped power and status in the Pacific region being eclipsed by the United States and Japan.  In the 21st century, China has rebounded and is only second in power to the United States in the region.

    What do you think will happen in the future? Will it once again come dominate the Pacific? Surpassing the United States? Or will it remain 2nd to the USA?

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  • Post Classical Trade Networks

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 10/16/2017

    From 600 - 1450, trade exploded across the Indian Ocean, providing an almost world network to exchange goods across Eurasia. Today, what would be a similar system?  Would be NAFTA? The European Union? Amazon? Craiglist? Ebay?

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  • Classical Civilizations

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 9/18/2017

    Greece, Rome, Han Dynasty China, the Mauryan and Gupta Empires in China all are labeled as the "classical civilizations." These states are the foundation of the various, modern regional civilizations in Europe, East Asia, and South Asia. We label the eras "Golden Ages" and exemplify them. But in reality, life was not "golden" during this period for most of the people. 

    Can we really label something a golden age when most of the population lives in abject squalor and terror of their upper class? Are we living in a golden age today? Be thorough in your response.  A one-sentence response does not cut it.

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  • Foundations of Civilization

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 9/6/2017

    When we speak of someone being civilized, it connotes an idea that the person is refined, controlled, and polite. Yet the text makes the claim the non-civilized hunter-gatherers were relatively egalitarian and less prone to violence. 

    Do you think we are we more "civilized" now? or when we were hunter-gathers?

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