Introduction to World History

(Global Histories)


Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar

Fall 2014




Benjamin Reilly (Professor)

Office 1037

Office Hours: By appointment, or whenever my door is open



Jonathan Stepp (Teaching Assistant)

Office: 1208

Office Hours: Tues, Thurs 1-3, 5:30-6

Sun 2-3, 4-5



Fazail Ahmed

Student TA

                   Office Hours in ARC:

Weds 3-5




Course Web Address:


Assignments must be submitted to

REILLY’S Section:

Course name: Global Histories Fall 2014

Class ID: 8090841 Enrollment Password: freshmen

STEPP’S Section:

Course name: World History Fall 2014

Class ID 8090887 Enrollment Password: freshmen

Make sure you sign up for the right section (Reilly or Stepp)


Course Goals:


The overall goals of this class are to:

§  Assist the transition between high school and college-level academic expectations

§  Introduce students to history as an academic discipline

§  Introduce students with some of the major milestones of world history

§  Improve student research and writing skills

§  Introduce students to basic techniques of documentary analysis

§  Increase student knowledge of historical and contemporary environmental issues


Students successfully completing the class will show proficiency in the following areas:

ü  Identifying, explaining, and applying key concepts of the historical profession

ü  Breaking arguments into evidence, conclusion and assumptions, as well as common logical flaws

ü  Demonstrating knowledge concerning important topics of world history, especially the impact of the misuse of water resources throughout history and in the modern world

ü  Distinguishing between different type of documents and identify each document’s tone, bias, intended audience, assumptions, and omissions

ü  Writing analytical essays that pose an argument and defend it with relevant information from primary or secondary source texts


            In terms of subject matter, this course will tackle the entirety of the human past, though with an extremely wide lens, focusing primarily on long-term trends. Greater depth will be provided by occasional comparative case studies, in which we will examine how universal human needs (subsistence, identity, social order) are handled differently in different environmental, cultural, and technological settings. In addition, this course will pair with the Carnegie Skills workshop to help give the students the skills needed to transition from a high school to an academic environment.




            No paper books are assigned for this class; all reading will be available either through this web site via hyperlinks (if not copyright protected) or else on Blackboard (if copyright protection applies).


Lectures, Workshops, and Discussion Sections


            Lecture classes will meet Sundays, 3:00-3:50, and are attended by the entire class. The lectures are designed to introduce students to major milestones in World History, as well as to introduce students to basic terms/concepts used in the historical profession. They will also provide the bulk of the content tested in the quizzes and the Final exam: click HERE for a list of all terms that will be covered in the class, as well as the days the terms will be introduced. Cell phone usage is prohibited during class, and laptops should only be used for note taking and/or accessing online readings.


            In the Workshop classes, which will take place Tuesday mornings or afternoons (check your schedule for when), the class will be broken down into smaller sections of about 20, and will meet with either one of the main instructors or the teaching assistant. In the workshop classes, students will work with the instructors on developing crucial course skills like note taking, essay writing, proper citation of sources, and research habits. The 4 course quizzes will take place will also take place during workshop classes, as well as debates, in-class assignments, etc. Outside of the quizzes, students in the workshop sessions will be asked to work in teams, and students will be awarded class participation points for their efforts.


            Discussion sections will meet on Thursday mornings or afternoons (check your schedule for when), the class will again be broken down into smaller sections of about 20, and will meet with either one of the main instructors or the teaching assistant. Discussion sections will mainly revolve around class discussion of the assigned document. Students are expected to read the documents- which are be accessed from links on this web site- and to think over the assigned discussion questions before coming to class. During discussion sections, students are expected to demonstrate their critical thinking skills by participating actively engaging in an analytical discussion of the assigned materials- students must be prepared to answer questions posed to them, as well as ask informed questions and raise relevant issues about the text. In particular, students are encouraged to consider the content and style of the document: for example, what was goal of the author, what are his/her biases, and what was the intended audience? Most importantly, what does this document tell us about the culture which produced it? Students who participate actively in the class discussion will earn class participation points. Students who are absent will not earn class participation, nor will students who attend but do not contribute meaningfully to the discussion.



Assignments and Grading


            Grades will be assigned based on the following schema:


  1. Short Assignments (eight total)     20%
  2. Research Paper                               20%
  3. Quizzes                                             20%
  4. Final Exam                                        20%
  5. Class Participation                          20%



1. Short Assignments


            The are two types of short assignments in this class:  2 pass/fail assignments and 6 short essays.


            The pass/fail worksheets are due at the times specified by the course calendar. These assignments will earn the student an automatic 100% when completed to the instructor’s satisfaction; if not, they will be returned to the students for revision, with comments.


            In addition, students must turn in a total of 6 short one-page essay assignments, at least 3 of which must be submitted before the midterm  (see the course schedule below). Each of these essays must answer one of the “discussion questions” listed at the top of the week’s readings. Click on any of the “discussion” listings below to see a sample list of questions. The assignments must be submitted at the recitation sections that discuss the assigned source. Students may only submit one question per week; this means that students had better start early and submit at least one every other week or else they will run out of time by the semester’s end. Students must answer the questions in an essay format, with a clearly-articulated one-paragraph introduction, several body paragraphs to support that introduction, and a brief conclusion. The short assignments will be graded on your ability to formulate a convincing argument, firmly based on evidence from the attached document, which clearly addresses the question asked. Please do not hesitate to contact myself or the Academic Resource Center (ARC) staff for help. For further assistance, click here for a sample essay. For the essay grading rubric, click here. NEW: Click here for a double-sided info sheet with strategies for tackling primary and secondary sources!



2. Research Paper

            Students must complete one long research paper of approximately 6-8 pages length and utilizing 3-5 academic sources. Students must meet with the instructors or the TA directly during office hours to discuss possible topics. In the term paper, students will be graded on clarity, style, and the use of appropriate evidence to defend a clearly-articulated argument (click here for the rubric, which is the same as the short assignments). Purely narrative papers- which tell a story rather than analyzing an issue- will receive poor grades. Again, please do not hesitate to contact myself or the Academic Resource Center for help. Click here for further information and a list of sample topics. Click here for a sample term paper. Students will learn more about collecting and assessing documents for their term paper in the Carnegie Skills Workshop course, which is paired with this class.


            Given the requirement for written sources, students are expected to take initiative and order sources as soon as possible in the semester through interlibrary loan.


PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism means to take the ideas, writing, or arguments of others and pass them off as your own. Students who share their written materials with others are also guilty of plagiarism.  It is a serious academic offense. If you quote directly from a book, website, or other source, or if you want to use the ideas/opinions/conclusions of another author in your writings, you must enclose that material in quotation marks and indicate the source using a footnote (click here for a guide on how to include footnotes in a text). All cases of plagiarism will be handled severely, and the most common applied penalty will be failure in the course. Note that all assignments must be submitted via Remember however that a paper may still be plagiarized even if does not detect plagiarism, particularly if intellectual property of other authors (for instance original ideas or insights) is taken without attribution, or if text cut-and-pasted and then altered with synonyms. PLAGIARIZISM HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN THE MAIN REASON STUDENTS FAIL THIS COURSE!


3. Quizzes


            At three designated “workshop” days during the semester, class will start with a short “term linking quiz”, where students will be expected to show mastery of concepts taught in class up to that point by making linkages between different concepts drawn from the Sunday course lectures. During the quiz, students will be presented with pairs of these terms (which will have been provided at least two weeks before the exam) and asked to describe, in no more than a paragraph, the relationship between the terms. There is no set right or wrong answer in this exam, but to achieve high marks, students must come up with a convincing link between the two terms and defend it with a persuasive argument. Students who only define the two terms, but do not link them, will receive no more than half marks. Click here for an example of possible answers to a typical set of paired terms, and click here for a list of terms that will be covered in this class. The quizzes are expected to take up only about half of the workshop classes.


            Note that all quizzes will be cumulative- the second quiz, for example, might ask students to link a term from week 2 with week 6, and the third quiz might ask students to link terms from week 7 and 13!



4. Final Exam

            The final exam will be given during in the normal lecture hall during finals week at a time TBD and will cover material from the lectures, reading, and discussion sections for the first half of the course. Study questions will be posted on this web site two weeks before the examination date, and all examination questions will be drawn from the study questions. Like the quizzes, the midterm is closed book. All you need to bring to the exams are two pens; examination “bluebooks” will be provided. Make-up examinations will only be given in the case of illness or a serious family emergency, and notification must be given in writing.  Each exam will consist of two parts, term matching and essays. The term matching section will be identical to the term matching quizzes, though it will cover material for the entire course. In the essay section, students will be presented with a short document, either primary or secondary, and then students must choose and answer one of a number of essay questions requiring them to relate that document to materials covered in lecture and other documents we have read in class. This portion of the exam is to test skills that students should be developing during the recitation sections and short essays. Grading will follow the grading rubric for essays (click here for the rubric). Click HERE for a list of all terms that will be covered in the class.


5. Class Participation

            Students are expected to participate actively in both the workshop and the discussion sections; see above for more details. Students can guarantee themselves a full 20 marks if they come to discussion sections fully prepared (with the readings or other assigned materials in hand) and are ready to speak, and listen, to other students. It is not necessary to have brilliant insights every week to receive full marks- regular attendance and active, informed participation will be sufficient.


            Class participation is grades as follows. Recorded attendance at a lecture earns students 1 mark.  In workshops, attendance (with the class materials) is worth 1 mark, while successful completion of a competition earns all members of the winning team 1 mark. In recitation, attendance (with the class materials) is worth1 mark, while meaningful participation in the discussion will earn 2 or even 3 marks. At midterm and final each student’s marks will be tallied and then located on a bell curve. Students who get an average number of aggregate marks will get an average class participation grade (“average” to be defined by the instructors at the time grades are assigned). Those with higher than average and lower than average marks will earn higher or lower class participation grades, and thus higher or lower fractions of the 20-points contributed by class participation to their overall grade.


LATE WORK POLICY: Papers that are received after the due date are marked down 10% for the first day, 20% for the second day, and 30% for the third. After the third day the student will receive a 0 on the assignment. For the purposes of this policy, any work received on the day of class but after the start time of the class is assessed the 10% penalty.



Course Calendar (note S=Sunday, T=Tuesday, R=Thursday)


S Aug 24             Lecture                 Introduction to the course

T Aug 26              Workshop            What is History? (no reading) Pass/Fail Homework 1 Assigned

R Aug 28             Discussion          The Code of Hammurabi

S Aug 31             Lecture                 The Lessons of Sociobiology

T Sept 2               Workshop            Composing Arguments (no reading) Pass/Fail Homework 1 Due – email to



Generic view: It’s a little bit of everything!

19th Century Social Darwinist

Marxist View

American Neoconservative

Environmentalist “Green History” View

Reilly’s Neo-Determinism


R Sept 4               Discussion          Jared Diamond, Ch. 6 & 4 (in Blackboard)

S Sept 7               Lecture                 The First Great Transformation: The Rise of Agriculture         

T Sept 9               Workshop            Arguments 101 (in Blackboard)      

R Sept 11            Discussion          The Seven Evils, Hymn to the Nile, and the Rage of Hathor  

S Sept 14             Lecture                 Agriculture and Environmental Change

T Sept 16             Workshop            “You be the Grader” Workshop (no reading)

R Sept 18            Discussion          Lucretius and Plato on the Environment

S Sept 21             Lecture                 Agriculture and Civilization

T Sept 23             Workshop            Quiz 1 Plagiarism (no reading)

R Sept 25            Discussion          William McNeill, Plagues and Peoples [excerpts] (in Blackboard)

S Sept 28             Lecture                 Discovery and Divergence

T Sept 30             Workshop            Junk as a Historical Source (no reading)

R Oct 2                 Discussion          William McNeill, The Pursuit of Power [excerpt] (in Blackboard)

Oct 5-9                 Eid Al-Adha Break No Classes

S Oct 12               Lecture                 Cultural Assimilation and Diffusion

T Oct 14               Workshop            Quiz 2 Art as a Historical Source Workshop (in Blackboard)

R Oct 16               Discussion          Ancient Chinese Philosophy


Deadline for first 3 short assignments: Pass/Fail Homework 2 Due – email to your recitation instructor

S Oct 19               Lecture                 Centralization and Decentralization

T Oct 21               Workshop            The Chinese Civil Service Exam System (in Blackboard)

R Oct 23               Discussion          The Taika Reforms

S Oct 26               Lecture                 Globalization 1.0: Asian Steppe and Indian Ocean

T Oct 28               Workshop            Term Paper Prep workshop (no reading)

R Oct 30               Discussion          Southernization (in Blackboard)

S Nov 2                Lecture                 Gunpowder Empires

T Nov 4                Workshop            Maps as Historical Sources (in Blackboard)

R Nov 6                Discussion          Domat vs. Machiavelli

S Nov 9                Lecture                 Globalization 2.0: the Atlantic Economy

T Nov 11              Workshop            Quiz 3 Early American Slavery Workshop

R Nov 13             Discussion          The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano

S Nov 16              Lecture                 The Second Great Transformation

T Nov 18              Workshop            Debate on the Industrial Revolution (in Blackboard)

R Nov 20             Discussion          The Communist Manifesto

S Nov 23              Lecture                 The Era of European Domination

T Nov 25              Workshop            Source Analysis: Cromer on Egypt

R Nov 27             Discussion          European Imperialism Excerpts

S Nov 30              Lecture                 To the Present: Cold War Globalization 3.0, and Global Warming    

Dec 1st: Term Paper Due

T Dec 2                Workshop            Progress and Pitfalls Debate

R Dec 4                Discussion          Diamond on China (in Blackboard)

Final Exam: TBD