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Discovery: The History, Politics and Future of Human Exploration: This week’s as

by | Mar 6, 2022 | History


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Discovery: The History, Politics and Future of Human Exploration:
This week’s assignment is to write a brief biographical deconstruction of an explorer of your choice. This can be a historical or contemporary public figure. The motivations of explorers can be very different. As we have discussed their exploration could have been out of necessity–to survive. But more often, it is for gain, curiosity, and/or fame. Mere recently, we might add leisure, entertainment, and amusement as motivations. How did exploration affect the explorer? Did they succeed at their aims? What, if any, were the consequences of what they achieved? Summarize this in approximately 600 to 800 words.
About Module 4
Module 4 discusses the first journeys remembered by history.
Learning Objectives
Understand the development of new transportation technologies allowing for global exploration
Deconstruct the characteristics and personality traits of explorers
Discover the interactions between populations who were unknown to each other.
This week’s learning materials include readings and videos.
Harari Chs. 10-12
Fernández-Armesto, Ch. 3
Zumthor (Links to an external site.)article (Links to an external site.)
McGhee (Links to an external site.)article (Links to an external site.)
Guns, Germs, and Steel II (Links to an external site.) (PBS/National Geographic)
Choose 1 of the 3 below:
When the Moors Ruled in Europe (Links to an external site.)
How China Could Have Conquered the World (Links to an external site.) (Timeline)
America Before Columbus (Links to an external site.)
Optional: Hardtack and Grog (Links to an external site.) (Max Miller).

This course uses a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating the sciences (social and physical) and the humanities, to explore the history and future of human exploration and discovery. It begins with the most distant story we can tell of early Homo sapiens venturing out of Africa some 60,000 years ago and ends with our reach into space—speculating on the future of human exploration. What are the catalysts for human beings to leave one place for another into the unknown? Often this has come as a response to climate changes, disasters, disease, and/or changes in food sources. In other cases the movement is caused by human conflict, seeking out new wealth and trade, or the development of a new technology that reduces the risks of travel. On some occasions the impetus was simple human curiosity. In most cases these movements have had lasting effects on human politics and culture. This course takes a global approach—in some cases literally out of this world—to study the causes and effects of these human journeys. It also looks to the future to all that has not yet been explored to answer where we might go next and what impacts this may have. Texts include scientific studies, historical narratives, and primary source document excerpts.
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
Utilize physical anthropology and biology to understand evolution and mobility of early humans and their biological ancestors
Explain economic and political motivations behind human journeys of discovery
Describe cultural and political problems arising from migration and contact between civilizations
Compare travel literatures to known historical experience. Describe the impact of these narratives on popular cultures
Explain the development of colonial systems and international slavery as well as the historical, social, and economic consequences arising from these institutional designs
Compare and contrast the history of human explorations undersea and in air/space. Describe the impact of military conflict on the development of undersea and air/space technologies
Describe the circular connection between technological development and “discovery cultures”
The following are the required reading material for this course:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
Harper; 1st edition (February 10, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0062316095
Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration
Felipe Fernández-Armesto
W. Norton & Company (October 17, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0393330915 / ISBN-13: 978-0393330915
Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration
Claude A. Piantadosi
Columbia University Press (January 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0231162421 / ISBN-13: 978-0231162425
Graded Assignments
Class assignments represent 25% of your overall grade. These assignments include a 1) travel writing essay, 2) an analysis of travel/exploration literature, 3) a comparative film study essay, 4) an essay on technology and travel, 5) a biographical essay about an explorer, and 6) an essay on the future of exploration. These assignments will be given every other week. One exam will be given at the end of the semester gauging your grasp of the material. This is 20% of your grade. The examination is open-book and open-note. The centerpiece of the course is a research project. The topic will be determined by you or your group in consultation with your professor. Each project will be summarized in a research paper. Throughout the semester we will be discussing and developing these projects together as a class. Results will be presented at the end of the semester in an informal presentation session. This presentation and other online participation will account for 15% of your grade. The final paper should consist of a minimum of 3,000 words and is worth 40% of your grade (due by May 13).
This course begins with an Orientation and is divided into 14 modules. Below is an outline describing the course structure. Each Module will be released on a weekly basis every Sunday at 11:59 pm (ET). Students are required to move through each module in sequential order.
Topics and readings
Distant Journeys
Jan. 17-23: Introduction; The George Bailey-Walter Mitty Factor.
Readings: Harari Chs. 1-3; Ward article
Jan. 24-30: I. The “Unremembered” Journey Out of Africa; Physical Anthropology, Human Origin, and Migration.
Readings: Harari Chs. 4-6; Chang-Qun article
Media discussion: The Incredible Human Journey
Jan. 31-Feb. 6: I. Ancient Seas: Early Asian and European Explorers; II. On Ancient Roads; IV. Growing Empires and War. III. Exploration in Early Literature; IV. Spread of Salvation Religions: Evangelization and Pilgrimage
Readings: Harari Chs. 7-9; Fernández-Armesto, Chs. 1-2; Christian and Davies articles
Media discussion: Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta, Brendan the Navigator
Classical Explorations
Feb. 7-13: I. Europeans Meet “New Worlds”;
II. Globalization and the Spread of Disease
Readings: Harari Chs. 10-12; Fernández-Armesto, Ch. 3; Zumthor and McGhee articles
Media discussion: Life and Voyages of Columbus, The New World, Apocalypto,
Feb. 14-20: Theater of the Mind: The printing press in Asia and Europe, expanding literacy, and the travel tale
Readings: Harari Chs. 13-16; Fernández-Armesto, Ch. 4; Clanchy and McElroy articles
Media discussion: Arthurian Legends and Quests
Feb. 21-27: Frontiers: Colonialism and culture clash around the world; International slavery
Readings: Harari Chs. 17-19; Fernández-Armesto, Ch. 5; Wheeler article
Media discussion: The Mission, Amistad
Feb. 28-Mar. 4: I. Enlightenment age and travel technology; II. Emergence of global capital markets, commodities, and trade
Readings: Fernández-Armesto, Ch. 6
Media discussion: Moby Dick, The Voyage of the Beagle, Two Years Before the Mast, Gulliver’s Travels


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