FOUNDATIONS: C. 8000 B.C.E.–600 C.E. 6 WEEKS (19–20%)

What students are expected to know:

Major Developments

1. Locating world history in the environment and time


Interaction of geography and climate with the development of human society

The environment as historical actor

Demography: major population changes resulting from human and environmental



Periodization in early human history

Nature and causes of changes associated with the time span

Continuities and breaks within the time span; e.g., the transition from river

valley civilizations to classical civilizations

Diverse interpretations

What are the issues involved in using “civilization” as an organizing principle

in world history?

What is the most common source of change: connection or diffusion versus

independent invention?

What was the effect of the Neolithic Revolution on gender relations?

2. Developing agriculture and technology

Agricultural, pastoral, and foraging societies and their demographic

characteristics (Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia)

Emergence of agriculture and technological change

Nature of village settlements

Impact of agriculture on the environment

Introduction of key stages of metal use

3. Basic features of early civilizations in different environments: culture, state, and social structure. In addition,     students should know enough about two early civilizations to compare them.



Indus Valley or Harrapan civilization

Shang or Huang He (Yellow River) valley civilization

Mesoamerica and Andean South America

4. Classical civilizations

Major political developments in China, India, the Mediterranean, and Mesoamerica

Social and gender structures

Major trading patterns within and among classical civilizations; contacts with adjacent regions

Arts, sciences, and technology

5. Major belief systems

Basic features and locations of major world belief systems prior to 600 C.E.








6. Late classical period (200 C.E.–600 C.E.)

Collapse of empires/states (Han China, western portion of the Roman Empire, Gupta)

Movements of peoples (Bantu, Huns, Germans, Polynesians)

Interregional networks by 600 C.E.: trade and the spread of religions


Major Comparisons and Analyses: Examples

Compare major religious and philosophical systems including some underlying similarities in cementing a social hierarchy, e.g., Hinduism contrasted with Confucianism

Compare the role of women in different belief systems—Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, and Hinduism

Understand how and why the collapse of empire was more severe in western

Europe than it was in the eastern Mediterranean or in China

Compare the caste system to other systems of social inequality devised by early and classical civilizations, including slavery

Compare societies that include cities with pastoral and nomadic societies

Compare the development of traditions and institutions in major civilizations, e.g., Indian, Chinese, and Greek/Roman

Describe interregional trading systems, e.g., the Silk Roads

Compare the political and social structures of two early civilizations:

Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, Shang, and Mesoamerica and Andean South America

Analyze the role of technologies in the growth of large state structures


Examples of the types of information students are expected to know contrasted with examples of what students are not expected to know for the multiple-choice section:

Nature of the Neolithic revolution, but not characteristics of previous stone ages, e.g., Paleolithic and Mesolithic

Economic and social results of the agricultural revolution, but not specific dates of the introduction of agriculture to specific societies

Nature of patriarchal systems, but not specific changes in family structure within a single region

Importance of the introduction of bronze and iron, but not specific inventions or implements

Political structure of classical China (emperor, bureaucracy), but not specific

knowledge of dynastic transitions, e.g., from Qin to Han

Greek approaches to science and philosophy, including Aristotle, but not details about other specific philosophers

Diffusion of major religious systems, but not the specific regional forms of

Buddhism or Aryan or Nestorian Christianity


600 C.E.–1450 7 WEEKS (22%)

What students are expected to know:

Major Developments

1. Questions of periodization

Nature and causes of changes in the world history framework leading up to 600 C.E.–1450 as a period

Emergence of new empires and political systems (e.g., Umayyad, ‘Abbasid,

Byzantium, Russia, Sudanic states, Swahili Coast, Tang, Song, and Ming

China, Delhi Sultanate, Mongol, Turkish, Aztec, Inca)

Continuities and breaks within the period (e.g., the effects of the Mongols on international contacts and on specific societies)

2. The Islamic world

The rise and role of Dar al-Islam as a unifying cultural and economic force in Eurasia and Africa

Islamic political structures, notably the caliphate

Arts, sciences, and technologies

3. Interregional networks and contacts

Development and shifts in interregional trade, technology, and cultural exchange

Trans-Sahara trade

Indian Ocean trade

Silk Roads

Economic innovations (e.g., Tang, Song, and early Ming China, Swahili Coast trade, economic systems in the Americas)

Missionary outreach of major religions

Contacts between major religions, e.g., Islam and Buddhism, Christianity and Islam

Impact of the Mongol empires

4. Political systems and cultural patterns

East Asia

China’s expansion

Chinese influence on surrounding areas and its limits (Japan, Vietnam, and Korea)

Change and continuities in Confucianism

The Americas

Apex and decline of the Maya

Rise of the Aztec

Rise of the Inca

Restructuring of Europe

Decentralization—medieval society

Division of Christianity

Revival of cities


Sudanic empires (Mali, Ghana, Songhay)

Swahili coast

South Asia and Southeast Asia

Delhi Sultanate


Arts, sciences, and technologies

5. Demographic and environmental changes

Impact of migrations on Afro-Eurasia and the Americas (e.g., Aztecs, Mongols, Turks, Vikings, and Arabs)

Consequences of plague pandemics in the fourteenth century

Growth and role of cities (e.g., the expansion of urban commercial centers in Song China and administrative centers in Africa and the Americas)

6. Diverse interpretations

What are the issues involved in using cultural areas rather than states as units of analysis?

What are the sources of change: nomadic migrations versus urban growth?

Was there a world economic network in this period?

Were there common patterns in the new opportunities available to and constraints placed on elite women in this period?

To what extent was Dar al-Islam a unified cultural/political entity?

Major Comparisons and Analyses: Examples

Compare the role and function of cities in major societies

Analyze gender systems and changes, such as the effects of Islam

Analyze the interactions between Jews, Christians, and Muslims

Compare developments in political and social institutions in both eastern and western Europe

Compare Japanese and European feudalism

Compare European and sub-Saharan African contacts with the Islamic world

Analyze the Chinese civil service exam system and the rise of meritocracy

Examples of the types of information students are expected to know

contrasted with examples of what students are not expected to know for the

multiple-choice section:

Arab caliphate, but not the transition from Umayyad to ‘Abbasid

Mamluks, but not Almohads

Feudalism, but not specific feudal monarchs such as Richard I

Land management systems, but not the European three-field system

Crusading movement and its impact, but not specific crusades

Viking exploration, expansion, and impact, but not individual explorers

Mongol expansion and its impact, but not details of specific khanates

Papacy, but not particular popes

Indian Ocean trading patterns, but not Gujarati merchants

Neoconfucianism, but not the specific contribution of Zhu Xi

1450–1750 6 WEEKS (19–20%)

What students are expected to know:

Major Developments

1. Questions of periodization

Continuities and breaks, causes of changes from the previous period and within this period

2. Changes in trade, technology, and global interactions; e.g., the Columbian

Exchange, the impact of guns, changes in ship building, and navigational devices

3. Knowledge of major empires and other political units and social systems

Aztec, Inca, Ottoman, China, Portugal, Spain, Russia, France, Britain, Tokugawa, Mughal

Characteristics of African kingdoms in general but knowing one (Kongo, Benin, Oyo, Dahomey, Ashanti, or Songhay) as illustrative

Gender and empire (including the role of women in households and in politics)

4. Slave systems and slave trade

5. Demographic and environmental changes: diseases, animals, new crops, and comparative population trends

6. Cultural and intellectual developments

Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

Comparative global causes and impacts of cultural change (e.g., African contributions to cultures in the Americas)

Major developments and exchanges in the arts (e.g., Mughal, the Americas)

Creation of new religions (Vodun, Zen, Sikhism, Protestantism)

7. Diverse interpretations

What are the debates about the timing and extent of European predominance in the world economy?

How does the world economic system of this period compare with patterns of

interregional trade in the previous period?

Major Comparisons and Analyses: Examples

Compare colonial administrations

Compare coercive labor systems: slavery and other coercive labor systems in the Americas

Analyze the development of empire (i.e., general empire building in Asia,

Africa, Europe, and the Americas)

Analyze imperial systems: a European seaborne empire compared with a land-based Asian empire

Compare Russia’s interaction with two of the following (Ottoman Empire,

China, western Europe, and eastern Europe)

Compare Mesoamerican and Andean systems of economic exchange

Examples of the types of information students are expected to know

contrasted with examples of those things students are not expected to know

for the multiple-choice section:

Extent of Ottoman expansion, but not individual states

Slave plantation systems, but not Jamaica’s specific slave system

Institution of the harem, but not Hurrem Sultan

Relations between the Kongo and Portugal, but not individual rulers

Tokugawa Japan’s foreign policy, but not Hideyoshi

Importance of European exploration, but not individual explorers

Characteristics of European absolutism, but not specific rulers

Protestant Reformation, but not Anabaptism or the Huguenots


1750–1914 6 WEEKS (19–20%)

What students are expected to know:

Major Developments

1. Questions of periodization

Continuities and breaks; causes of changes from the previous period and within this period

2. Changes in global commerce, communications, and technology

Industrial Revolution (transformative effects on and differential timing in different societies; mutual relation of industrial and scientific developments; commonalities)

Changes in patterns of world trade

3. Demographic and environmental changes (migrations; end of the Atlantic slave trade; new birthrate patterns; food supply; medicine)

4. Changes in social and gender structure (Industrial Revolution; commercial and demographic developments; emancipation of serfs/slaves; tension between work patterns and ideas about gender; new forms of labor systems)

5. Political revolutions and independence movements; new political ideas

United States and Latin American independence movements

Revolutions (France, Haiti, Mexico, China)

Rise of nationalism, nation-states, and movements of political reform

Rise of democracy and its limitations: reform; women; racism

6. Rise of Western dominance (economic, military, political, social, cultural and artistic, patterns of expansion; imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism) and different cultural and political reactions (dissent; reform; resistance; rebellion; racism; nationalism; impact of changing European ideologies on colonial administrations)

7. Patterns of cultural and artistic interactions among societies in different parts of the world (African and Asian influences on European art; cultural policies of Meiji Japan)

8. Diverse interpretations

What are the debates about the causes and effects of serf and slave emancipation in this period, and how do these debates fit into broader comparisons of labor systems?

What are the debates over the nature of women’s roles in this period? How do these debates apply to industrialized areas, and how do they apply in colonial societies?

What are the debates over the causes of European/British technological innovation versus development in Asia/China?

Major Comparisons and Analyses: Examples

Compare the causes and early phases of the Industrial Revolution in western Europe and Japan

Compare the Haitian and French Revolutions

Compare reaction to foreign interference in the Ottoman Empire, China, India, Southeast Asia, and Japan

Compare nationalism in the following pairs: China and Japan, Egypt and Italy, Pan Africanism and the Indian Congress Movement

Explain forms of Western intervention in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia

Compare the roles and conditions of elite women in Latin America with those in western Europe before 1850

Examples of the types of information students are expected to know

contrasted with examples of what students are not expected to know for the

multiple-choice section:

Causes of Latin American independence movements, but not specific protagonists

The French Revolution of 1789, but not the Revolution of 1830

Meiji Restoration, but not Iranian Constitutional Revolution

Boxer Rebellion, but not the Crimean War

Suez Canal, but not the Erie Canal

Muhammad Ali, but not Isma’il

Marxism, but not Utopian socialism

Social Darwinism, but not Herbert Spencer

Women’s emancipation movements, but not specific suffragists

1914–PRESENT 6 WEEKS (19–20%)

What students are expected to know:

Major Developments

1. Questions of periodization

Continuities and breaks; causes of changes from the previous period and within this period

2. War and peace in a global context (the World Wars; colonial soldiers in the First World War; the Holocaust; the Cold War; nuclear weaponry; and international organizations and their effects on the global framework, e.g., globalization of diplomacy and conflict; global balance of power; reduction of European influence;  the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Nonaligned Nations)

3. New patterns of nationalism (fascism; decolonization; racism, genocide; the breakup of the Soviet Union)

4. Effects of major global economic developments (e.g., the Great Depression in Latin America; technology; Pacific Rim; multinational corporations)

5. New forces of revolution and other sources of political innovations

6. Social reform and social revolution (changing gender roles; family structures; rise of feminism; peasant protest; international Marxism; religious fundamentalism)

7. Globalization of science, technology, and culture

Developments in global cultures and regional reactions, including science and consumer culture

Interactions between elite and popular culture and art

Patterns of resistance including religious responses

8. Demographic and environmental changes (migrations; changes in birthrates and death rates; new forms of urbanization; deforestation; green/environmental movements; rural to urban shifts)

9. Diverse interpretations

Is cultural convergence or diversity the best model for understanding increased intercultural contact in the modern world?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using units of analysis for the modern world, such as the nation, the world, the West, and the developing world?


Major Comparisons and Analyses: Examples

Compare patterns and results of decolonization in Africa and India

Pick two revolutions (Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Iranian) and compare their effects on the roles of women

Compare the effects of the World Wars on areas outside of Europe

Compare legacies of colonialism and patterns of economic development in two of three areas (Africa, Asia, and Latin America)

Analyze nationalist ideologies and movements in contrasting European and colonial environments

Compare the different types of independence struggles

Examine global interactions in cultural arenas (e.g., reggae, art, sports)

Analyze the global effects of the Western consumer society

Compare major forms of twentieth-century warfare

Assess different proposals (or models) for economic growth in the developing world and the social and political consequences

Examples of the types of information students are expected to know

contrasted with examples of what students are not expected to know for the

multiple-choice section:

Effects of global wars, but not specific battles in the World Wars

Cultural and political transformations resulting from the wars, but not French political and cultural history

Authoritarian regimes, but not Mussolini’s or Vargas’s internal policies

Feminism and gender relations, but not Simone de Beauvoir or Huda Shaarawi

The growth of international organizations, but not the history of the ILO

Colonial independence movements, but not the resolutions passed by the Indian National Congress

The issue of genocide, but not Cambodia, Rwanda, or Kosovo

The internationalization of popular culture, but not the Beatles