Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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The Western Tradition

Course Outline

The following course outline is excerpted from the Western Tradition
preview book, published by Macmillan Publishing Company.

Unit One

Program 1. The Dawn of History
Program 2. The Ancient Egyptians

A vivid account of the evolution of the human race, the origins of agriculture, and a look at one of the earliest civilizations.

Students should understand the following issues:


Unit Two

Program 3. Mesopotamia
Program 4. From Bronze to Iron

An examination of how Western Europe, in many respects, owes more to Mesopotamian culture than to Egypt.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Three

Program 5. The Rise of Greek Civilization
Program 6. Greek Thought

An exploration of the growth of Greek civilization and the deep connection between its philosophy and political institutions.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Four

Program 7. Alexander the Great
Program 8. The Hellenistic Age

Greek culture establishes itself throughout the eastern Mediterranean world as the successors of Alexander the Great establish empires of their own.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Five

Program 9. The Rise of Rome
Program 10. The Roman Empire

A small city in Italy rises to become one of the greatest empires and most influential forces of the Western tradition.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Six

Program 11. Early Christianity
Program 12. The Rise of the Church

The growth and spread of Christianity influences in a hostile empire.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Seven

Program 13. The Decline of Rome
Program 14. The Fall of Rome

The Roman Empire is battered from without by a series of barbarian invasions and from within by moral decay. With the fall of Rome, the church and barbarian kingdoms become heir to the Western empire.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Eight

Program 15. The Byzantine Empire
Program 16. The Fall of Byzantine

Following the fall of Rome, the Byzantine Empire based in Constantinople becomes the repository of culture from Egypt, Greece and Rome, thus preserving and enriching the ancient world throughout the Mediterranean.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Nine

Program 17. The Dark Ages
Program 18. The Age of Charlemagne

A new political and economic order formed in the centuries after the fall of the Western empire.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Ten

Program 19. The Middle Ages
Program 20. The Feudal Order

A new society develops in the early Middle Ages, as Europe struggles to repel successive waves of invaders.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Eleven

Program 21. Common Life in the Middle Ages
Program 22. Cities and Cathedrals of the Middle Ages

An exploration into both the harsh realities of daily life in the Middle Ages and the blossoming of European trade and culture epitomized in the construction of some of the world's most magnificent churches.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twelve

Program 23. The Late Middle Ages
Program 24. The National Monarchies

An examination of the importance of religious and political thought and the expansion of great states in the late fifteenth century, a time during which many rulers were centralizing power within their own domains.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Thirteen

Program 25. The Renaissance and the Age of Discovery
Program 26. The Renaissance and the New World

Great European explorers share the Renaissance spirit that appears in the works of artists, scholars, and writers of the period.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Fourteen

Program 27. The Reformation
Program 28. The Rise of the Middle Class

The Protestant Reformation arises as many Europeans, particularly in cities, look for new forms of piety and worship.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Fifteen

Program 29. The Wars of Religion
Program 30. The Rise of Trading Cities

While much of Europe is devastated by wars between Protestants and Catholics, trading begins to transform European politics and economics.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Sixteen

Program 31. The Age of Absolutism
Program 32. Absolutism and the Social Contract

Some rulers, particularly in France, claim they are answerable to no earthly authority, while in England some political theorists argue that authority depends on the consent of the governed.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Seventeen

Program 33. The Enlightened Despots
Program 34. The Enlightenment

In Western Europe philosophers argue that the dignity of man can best be raised through practical knowledge and reforms.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Eighteen

Program 35. The Enlightenment and Society
Program 36. The Modern Philosophers

Many writers think of themselves as social reformers and work to change society.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Nineteen

Program 37. The American Revolution
Program 38. The American Republic

The American Revolution is examined as a test case of Enlightenment ideals.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty

Program 39. The Death of the Old Regime
Program 40. The French Revolution

As the kingdom of France collapses, the new revolutionary state becomes an ideal for some Europeans, a terror for others.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty-One

Program 41. The Industrial Revolution Program 42. The Industrial World

New sources of power and improved production techniques begin the age of industrial expansion.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty-Two

Program 43. Revolution and the Romantics
Program 44. The Age of the Nation-States

By the early nineteenth-century many central and eastern Europeans aspire to establish independent countries.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty-Three

Program 45. A New Public
Program 46. Fin de Siècle

By the late nineteenth century the productivity of the Industrial Revolution is raising the standard of living throughout Europe and North America. Development of mass communication becomes an increasingly important force in modern society.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty-Four

Program 47. The First World War and the Rise of Fascism
Program 48. The Second World War

Wars and revolution arise from the unresolved conflicts of the previous century: class struggle, commercial and colonial rivalries, and struggles for national sovereignty.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty-Five

Program 49. The Cold War
Program 50. Europe and the Third World

The United States and Soviet Union, the two great victors of World War II, dominate Europe while poor countries of the Third World try to develop in the midst of superpower rivalries and competition from industrialized nations.

Students should understand the following issues:



Unit Twenty-Six

Program 51. The Technological Revolution
Program 52. Toward the Future

The concluding unit demonstrates the speed with which modern life has changed and considers the future of Western civilization.

Students should understand the following issues:




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