Big History

Big History

Big History examines history on a large scale across long time frames through a multi-disciplinary approach. [Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History By David Christian] "Big History" gives a focus on the alteration and adaptations in the human experience.Growing Up: The History of Childhood in a Global Context By Peter N. Stearns. Page 9] "Big History" is a discrete field of historical study that arose in the late 1980s. It is related to, but distinct from, world history, as the field examines history from the beginning of time to the present day. In some respects, the field is thus similar to the older universal history.


Big History looks at the past on all time scales, from the Big Bang to modernity, seeking out common themes and patterns. It uses a multi-disciplinary approach from the latest findings, such as biology, astronomy, geology, climatology, prehistory, archeology, anthropology, cosmology, natural history, and population and environmental studies. Big History arose from a desire to go beyond the specialized and self-contained fields that emerged in the 20th century and grasp history as a whole, looking for common themes across the entire time scale of history. [Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History By David Christian. Page 441.] [The Changing Image of the Sciences By Ida H. Stamhuis. Page 146.] Conventionally, the study of history is typically limited to the written word and the systematic narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; yet this only encompasses the past 5,000 years or so and leaves out the vast majority of history and all events in time, in relation to humanity.

The first courses in Big History were experimental ones taught in the late 1980s by John Mears at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas) and by David Christian at Macquarie University (Australia), and more recently at San Diego State University. [ [ SDSU Department of History - Homepage ] ] [ [ San Diego State University ] ] Since then, a number of other universities have offered similar courses. The first book in Big History was published in 1996 by Fred Spier entitled, "The Structure of Big History: From the Big Bang until Today", which offers an ambitious defense of the project and constructs a unified account of history across all time scales. One notable text in Big History is David Christian's "Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History", which explores history from the first micro-seconds of the Big Bang, to the creation of the solar system, to the origins of life on earth, the evolution of humans, the agricultural revolution, modernity, and the 20th century. Christian examines large-scale patterns and themes, and provides perspective of time scales.Currently in the process is a text book on Big History for McGraw Hill by David Christian, Cynthia Brown and Craig Benjamin. Craig Benjamin teaches a course, Big History, at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan

ee also

* Deep time
* Universal history

Further reading

;Books listed by date

* Bryson, B. (2005). A short history of nearly everything: [illustrated] . London: Transworld.
* Diamond, J. M. (2003). Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
* Manning, P. (2003). Navigating world history: historians create a global past. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.
* Stamhuis, I. H. (2002). The changing image of the science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
* Drees, Willem B. (2001). . Routledge. ISBN 0415256526
* Berry, Thomas (1999). . New York: Bell Tower.
* Delsemme, Arnaud (1998). Our Cosmic Origins.
*Hawking, S. W. (1998). A brief history of time. London: Bantam.
* McSween, Harry, and Brian Swimme (1997). Fanfare for Earth.
* Swimme, Brian, and Thomas F. Berry (1992). The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era—A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. San Francisco.
* Gonick, L. (1990). The cartoon history of the universe. New York: Doubleday.
* Asimov, Isaac (1987). .
* Kutter, Siegfried (1987). The Universe and Life.
* Cloud, Preston (1978). Cosmos, Earth and Man.

;Essays and other publications

*John Mears, "Connections and Continuities: Integrating World History into Larger Analytical Frameworks"
* Bruce Mazlish, "Big History, Little Critique"
* Marnie Hughes-Warrington, "Big History". Social Evolution & History. Vol. 4 (2005). #1. P.7-21.
* David Christian, "Bridging the Two Cultures: History, Big History, and Science"
* Eric J. Chaisson, "Follow the Energy: The Relevance of Cosmic Evolution for Human History"
* Akop P. Nazaretyan, "Big (Universal) History Paradigm: Versions and Approaches". Social Evolution & History. Vol. 4 (2005). #1. P.61-86.
* Fred Spier, "What Drives Human History? A View from Big History"
* Fred Spier, "How Big History Works". Social Evolution & History. Vol. 4 (2005). #1. P.87-135.


;General information
*David Christian (2004). [ "Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History"] . ISBN 0-520-23500-2
*Fred Spier (1996). "The Structure of Big History: From the Big Bang until Today". ISBN 90-5356-220-6;Citations and notes

External links

* [ Big History] by Marnie Hughes-Warrington.
*David Christian
** [ Maps of Time at InterSci Complexity wiki]
** [ Maps of Time: Introduction] . 2004. Introduction chapter from the book.
** [ World History in Context] . 2003. Christian makes the case that human history is significant across all time scales.
** [ "The Case for Big History"] . 1991. An early essay.
* [ Big History] Big History courses at the University of Amsterdam.

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