General Essay Questions for large portions of the text
Compare and contrast the various approaches which ancient civilizations had to government. You might consider the following questions: What rights and roles did the states in Egypt and Mesopotamia give to their leaders? What forms of self-rule did the Hebrews/Jews attempt? How did the Greeks provide alternate conceptions of politics? How did various political structures of the Romans reflect their expansion?
Explain the importance of religion in the ancient world. Consider the following questions: What religious forms did the first peoples have? How did religion serve the needs of the Middle Eastern civilizations? What changes did the Greeks and Romans bring to beliefs? How were Judaism, Christianity, and Islam different from other religions and from each other?
Discuss the success and failures of empires in the ancient world? You might consider the following questions: How did the first empires come about? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the universal empires of Assyria and Persia? How did the Greeks fail at empire yet succeed at civilization? How did the Roman Empire arise out of a crisis, create more crises, and yet survive for several centuries? What caused the ultimate failure of the western portion of the Roman Empire, and what were its consequences?
Consider the interactions of different peoples and ethnic groups in Ancient History. You might consider the following questions: How did the universal empires of Assyrian and Persia try to unfiy the peoples of the Middle East? Why did the Greek attempts at empire fail to endure? How were the Romans successful at a multinational empire? How did enduring conflicts between peoples bring the Roman Empire to an end?
What were the characteristic social institutions and behaviors which defined the Early Middle Ages (ca. 450-1000)? You might consider the following questions: How was the surviving western Roman World different from societies of Byzantium and Islam? How did some Germanic kingdoms succeed in building new stability? What new practices did the western Christian Church emphasize? What were the Carolingian efforts at civilization and why did they fail?
What were the characteristic social institutions and behaviors which defined the High Middle Ages (ca. 1000-1300)? You might consider what new ideas, innovations or methods transformed the political structures, the economy, the authority of the Church, education and thought, art and literature.
How did attitudes toward religion change from the beginning of the Middle Ages to 1648? You might consider the following questions: What role did religion play in people's lives? What were the institutions and reforms of medieval Christianity? What groups were outside of and threatened the Christian church? How did the papacy assert its control? How then did the Reformation create Protestant faiths and redefine Catholicism?
What were the changes in culture from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance? You might consider: What new ideas and institutions determined philosophy and theology? What forms of literature flourished? And what were the changes in artistic styles and subjects for each period?
How did governance in political states in Western Europe change between the Fall of Rome to 1648. You might consider the following questions: What kind of governments replaced Roman Imperial rule; what did the Carolingians do to create unity? What new methods of rule established states in the High Middle Ages? How were these then changed through the Late Middle Ages and by the Commercial Revolution into the Early Modern Period?
What were the characteristic social institutions in Western Europe which ended the Later Middle Ages and began the Early Modern Period (ca. 1300-1648)? You might consider what happened to overturn old ways and promote the new regarding the environment and knowledge about the world, the economy, the power of princes, and people's belief systems.
What were the many changes which took place in Western Society during the Early Modern period (1648-1815)? You might consider the following questions: What were the competing political systems? How did the economy and social status change as a result of the commercial revolution? What new cultural developments provided new ways to look at life? What new developments in science made people question their position in the world? How were these ideas applied to people in the Enlightenment? What did the French Revolution do to change things?
How did the rise of modern science change Western Society's view of the world? You might consider the following questions: How did astronomy first destroy the medieval view of the universe, and what replaced it in the 17th century? What 19th century advances, especially in physics and biology, in turn brought further change, and how do these affect our view of ourselves and the world?
What changed in Western Society during the Nineteenth Century (1815-1914)? You might consider the following questions: What were the competing political ideologies, and what changed in the relations both between European states after 1815 and then Europe and the rest of the world? How did the economy and social status change as a result of industrial revolutions? What new cultural developments provided new ways to look at life? What new developments in science made people question their position in the world?
Discuss the changes in governance in political states in Western Europe between the end of the Middle Ages to 1918. You might consider the following questions: What kind of governments dominated Europe at the end of the Middle Ages? How did the Commercial Revolution and Colonial Imperialism change the nature of government in the West? How did absolutism become the most widespread form of rule? How did democratic methods challenge absolutism? How did they interact through the Nineteenth Century?
Discuss the issues of nationalism in Early Modern Europe. You might consider the following questions: How did the breakdown of Christendom give rise to a new emphasis on nationality and ethnicity within the state system established by the Peace of Westphalia? How did imperialism confirm for Europeans their superiority? How did the rise of nationalism in the Nineteenth Century change the political and ethnic landscape?
Discuss imperialism as a major force in the world by the beginning of the 20th Century. What forces encouraged the original expansion of imperialism? What promoted the new intensification in the 19th Century? How did imperialism affect the people and governments of the Western Great Powers and subjected peoples of Asia, Africa and the Pacific? How did imperialist powers try to control China? How did Japan differ from other imperialist targets?
How have Western states changed since 1648? You might consider the following questions: What were the two competing forms of government before the French Revolution and how did they work in various states? How did the French Revolution change political action? What conflicts, reforms and expansions of political power took place in Europe in the 19th century, and the rest of the world? How did the Twentieth Century promote new authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and bring those down along with the colonial empires? What options and challenges remain today for political structures?
How has modern science has changed Western Society's view of the world? You might consider the following questions: How did astronomy first destroy the medieval view of the universe, and what replaced it in the 17th century? What 19th century advances, especially in physics and biology, in turn brought further change? How did issues in the beginning of the Twentieth Century both promote and weaken the authority of science? How have the rise new technologies and an awareness of environmental consequences from them created conflict about science into the Twenty-first Century?
Discuss the broad changes in societies since 1918. You might consider the following questions: What new technologies have helped to accelerate continued to transform life-styles and attitudes? How did economic crises affect politics and international relations? How did the cultural movements of the 1960s bring together many of these changes and try to go in new directions? What are the different affects of change on technologically advanced and impoverished nations into the Twenty-first Century?
Discuss the affect of the Cold War on global history. You might consider the following questions: How did the Cold war begin and in which ways was the Cold War different from previous wars? What were the major events and wars which continued the conflict through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s? How did the conflict involve other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America? How did the Cold War come to an end?
Discuss the conflicts of nationalism and ethnicity since World War I. You might consider the following questions: How did World War I promote the weakening of colonial empires and the intensification of nationalism? How did totalitarian and authoritarian systems feed on nationalism? What are some of the nationalist groups that have increased tensions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas? How have democracy, fascism, and communism dealt with the problems in the context of the Cold War? What problems of nationalism and ethnicity still confront the world into the 21st Century?
Discuss decolonization, or the breakdown of Western colonial imperialism after 1945. You might consider the following questions: How and why did specific colonies in the Middle East, Asia and Africa agitate for independence? What issues concerned the imperialist mother countries? What problems did the former colonies face after independence? What kind of solutions did their leaders undertake? What are the similarities and differences between newly independent countries in Africa and Asia and older countries in Latin America? What problems of nationalism and ethnicity still remain into the 21st Century?