Learn Big History at Macquarie

Learn Big History at Macquarie

Learn Big History at Macquarie

(Image credit: R Nial Bradshaw | flickr)

Macquarie: the intellectual birthplace of Big History

Big History, which spans 13.8 billion years and synthesises learnings from across multiple disciplines to create a single narrative, has gained considerable international attention in recent years. If you're new to Big History, you may be surprised to know that Big History started right here, at Macquarie University.

Professor David Christian (D.Phil. Oxford, 1974), who is by training a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, endeavoured to teach a history of our world on the largest possible scale. Twenty-five years later, thousands of students have studied Big History at Macquarie, and our flagship unit MHIS115: An Introduction to Big History remains one of the most popular units at the undergraduate level! Click here to see our Jubilee event celebrating 25 years of teaching Big History.

Introduction to Big History

Whether you've just enrolled at Macquarie University, are continuing your studies, or are thinking about studying at Macquarie in the future, you have a chance to study MHIS115 at the intellectual home of Big History. In MHIS115, students explore the changing interactions between people, and people and the environment. In doing so, they are encouraged to think about the kinds of evidence available, and the role that evidence can play in understanding the local and global communities that people belong to today.

This foundational unit encourages students to develop key skills in critical thinking that will prove valuable, both with their degree and beyond. This unit can be counted as a People unit in your degree at Macquarie University, but remember to check the individual requirements of your degree to make sure that you fulfil the requirements of your course.

In 2015, the Big History Institute also welcomes as new convener Dr. Shawn Ross, who will be teaching the unit in collaboration with David Christian in Session 1. Dr. Ross is by training a historian and archaeologist of the ancient Mediterranean, focusing on trade, acculturation, conquest, and other forms of intercultural contact.

If you'd like to get a better understanding of the unit, refer to the course handbook, and check out the #MHIS115 hashtag on Twitter to see what is being shared between David Christian and Big History students.

The Big History Institute is also excited to announce that for the first time, MHIS115 will be convened by Dr Lorna Barrow and offered as a unit through Open Universities Australia. Open Universities provides learners with the opportunity to take Big History as part of an Australian degree course or as a single unit, which can be studied from anywhere in the world!  Click here to find out more about the course and how you can enrol.

New unit offering! Introducing MHIS215: Problems in Big History

If you've already taken MHIS115, or are going to be enrolled in the unit in Session 1, don't forget to make room in your study plan for MHIS215: Problems in Big History in Session 2. This exciting unit is being offered for the first time in 2015, and will build on the concepts developed in MHIS115, exploring such questions as:

  • Is there a universal long-term trend towards rising complexity?
  • Does the notion of Universal Darwinism work outside the biological realm?
  • What new mechanisms of change can be observed with the appearance of our own species, Homo sapiens?
  • What are the main similarities and differences in methods of studying the past as we move from the realms of physics to those of geology and biology and eventually to human history?

You can find more information on this unit in its handbook page.

Stay tuned for more news about this new course by checking bighistoryinstitute.org and following @BigHistoryInst on Twitter. Here you'll also be able to find information about our upcoming MOOC, which is currently in development. If you have any questions, you can contact the Institute directly at bighistoryinstitute@mq.edu.au.

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