Big History: From the Classroom to Archives to the Profession and Back Again
Cynthia Stokes Brown, Dominican University of California
Mojgan Behmand, Dominican University of California
David Christian, Macquarie University
Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh
This panel explores the issues and virtues of big history, an approach to history that uses multiple scales of time and space, including the biggest. Over 25 years ago, David Christian created a course at McQuarie University where students surveyed almost 14 billion years of history, beginning with the Big Bang and including a discussion of the future. Called “big history” by Christian, other universities around the world designed and offered their own version of big history, including University of Amsterdam, Harvard, Berkeley, the University of Michigan and Dominican University, where all freshman take a year of big history. In 2010, the Big History Project began a course for high schools that now enroll more than 25,000 students in 15 countries, and the following year the International Big History Association opened with its first conference. This panel situates big history as both a research and teaching field and analyzes the challenges and affordances this approach to history provides.