A Brief History of Humankind The course surveys the entire length of human history, from the evolution of various human species in the Stone Age up to the political and technological revolutions of the twenty-first century.
About the Course About 2 million years ago our human ancestors were insignificant animals living in a corner of Africa. Their impact on the world was no greater than that of gorillas, zebras, or chickens. Today humans are spread all over the world, and they are the most important animal around. The very future of life on Earth depends on the ideas and behavior of our species.
This course will explain how we humans have conquered planet Earth, and how we have changed our environment, our societies, and our own bodies and minds. The aim of the course is to give students a brief but complete overview of history, and to answer some basic historical questions such as: What is religion? What is an empire? What is money? What is science? What is capitalism? Why did almost all societies believe that women are inferior to men? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history progressed? And what is the likely future of humankind?
Part I: The Cognitive Revolution
Lecture 1: The Human Family
Lecture 2: The Cognitive Revolution
Lecture 3: Daily Life in the Stone Age
Lecture 4: The Human Flood
Part II: The Agricultural Revolution
Lecture 5: History's Biggest Fraud
Lecture 6: Building Pyramids
Lecture 7: There is No Justice in History
Part III: The Unification of Humankind
Lecture 8: The Direction of History
Lecture 9: Imperial Visions
Lecture 10: The Law of Religion
Part IV. The Scientific Revolution
Lecture 11: The Discovery of Ignorance
Lecture 12: The Marriage of Science and Empire
Lecture 13: The Capitalist Creed
Lecture 14: The Industrial Revolution
Lecture 15: A Permanent Revolution
Lecture 16: And They Lived Happily Ever After
Lecture 17: The End of Homo Sapiens
There are no entry requirements. The course is intended both to people who have never studied history seriously, and wish to gain an overview of the human past, and to people who have studied history before, but who would like to get a fresh and challenging perspective on it.
Suggested Readings: Participating in the course does not require any reading.
Course Format: The course includes 17 lectures. Each is 60-120 minutes long, divided into 3-6 short segments.
Students can watch each lecture in one go, or break it up into several segments.