When you hear the word ‘history’, what do you think about? Do you think about World Wars and the Industrial Revolution? Do you think about planet Earth and the Big Bang? Or do you think about survival of the fittest and the human race?
Whatever it is that you are thinking, it has a part in ‘Big History’ as professor Christian has been teaching this subject since 1989. David Christian has developed a multidisciplinary story-telling approach, unraveling the story of our universe spanning astronomy, biology, physics, archaeology, history and economics. Christian identifies 8 thresholds that mark history namely: the Big Bang, stars light up, new chemical elements, earth & the solar system, life on earth, collective learning, agriculture and the modern revolution.
It is this holistic, connected approach that David Christian feels needs to be injected into high school curriculums, giving students the context required to ask the big questions about human endeavors, activities, ambitions, and how that relates to the universe.
The Big History Project aided by Bill Gates, is live (Massive Open Online Course) giving people everywhere the opportunity to explore 13.8 billion years of history in an 8 hour course. Over 200 high schools in a dozen countries are also trailing teaching Big History in their classrooms, a collaborative project which will aid the process of sharing the most interdisciplinary subject ever conceived.
While listening to Professor Christian at Vivid Ideas in Sydney this weekend, I was energized by the passion and knowledge that he has, as well as optimism. As the inevitable question of ‘is the world going to end?’, David explains that the collective learning capability of humans makes them the only dominant species that we know that exists. Therefore, if we use this collectivism supported by our ability to communicate for good things, we should be able to overcome the problems that we face today.
So next time you hear the word ‘history’, think big, think interdisciplinary, think about interrelated systems and think about what the 9th threshold will be.
Professor David Christian has developed a multidisciplinary story-telling approach ‘Big History’, unravelling the story of our universe spanning astronomy, biology, physics, archaeology, history and economics.