North Island College Winter 2023

Delivery Format: Digital Learning Unscheduled (We will not meet regularly as a group via videoconferencing, though there will some recommended and optional BlueJeans group sessions).

Dates Tyee 204

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office:  Village G6

Office Hours:  Tues. 11:30 am - 12:50 pm; Th 4:00 - 5:20 pm (You can either meet me in person in Village G6 or set up a video meeting on BlueJeans).  There will also be other regular opportunities to schedule one-on-one video meetings.  To book an appointment during my regular office hours, see calendly.com/dan-hinman-smith .

Office Phone: 250-334-5000, Extension 4024

Web-Site: http://www.misterdann.com/

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

North Island College is honoured to acknowledge the traditional territories of the combined 35 First Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Coast Salish traditions, on whose traditional and unceded territories the college's campuses are situated.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report calls for 94 actions toward restoring a balanced relationship between indigenous peoples and settler communities in this country.

Course Description

This course surveys world civilization from ancient times to the beginning of the Medieval era.  It will include study of such areas of history as ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Japan and India; classical Greece and Rome; Africa and pre-contact America; and Islam, Byzantium, and Western Christendom.  The focus will be upon identifying broad themes, issues and patterns in world history, and upon accounting for political, social, cultural, intellectual, religious and economic change.


**It is important that you acquire these books.  They are available for purchase at the NIC Bookstore.  Three copies of the History of the World in 100 Objects; 2 copies of Naked Olympics; and 3 copies of After the Prophet are available on short-term Reserve loan from the Comox Valley branch of the North Island College Library.  I have also provided links to e-text editions below.

Neil MacGregor, History Of The World In 100 Objects (London: Penguin, 2012).

Toby Wilkinson, Lives Of The Ancient Egyptians (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2019).

Tony Perrottet, Naked Olympics: The True Story Of The Ancient Games (New York: Random House, 2004).

Lesley Hazleton, After The Prophet: The Epic Story Of The Shia-Sunni Split (New York: Anchor Books, 2009).

Optional Textbook:  I have decided not to have a required textbook in HIS 120.  Those who would like a basic textbook introduction to World History as an extra reference may find the following open-source volume to be helpful:

Eugene Berger et al., World History: Cultures, States, And Societies (Dahlonega: University of North Georgia, 2016).

Learning Outcomes

1.  Outline the most basic contours of prehistory and assess the causes and consequences of the rise of civilizations.

2.  Compare and contrast selected world civilizations within an analytical context.

3.  Explain the significance of and explore the interrelationships between the great belief systems of the ancient Near East and Asia, including Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.

4.  Analyze changes in ancient Greek society, including the rise of philosophical and scientific inquiry, and the invention of the concept of citizenship.

5.  Account for the formation of a unified China under a bureaucratic government, and compare China's early history to Rome's path from republic to empire.

6.  Explain the circumstances that led to the spread of Christianity in the West.

7.  Outline the origins of Islam and analyze its rapid expansion.

8.  Explore the relationships between the economy, the political structure, the culture, and the social organization of particular civilizations.

9.  Identify central themes and issues from the past, and theorize about the complex connections between the ancient, classical, medieval and contemporary eras.

My Assumptions About This Course

That you are interested in world history and eager to learn as much about it as possible in this course.

That it will be impossible to learn all that you would like to learn given the massive amount of relevant material and the time constraints involved.

That history should involve not merely the struggle to understand past events but also to find meaning from those events.

That my job as instructor is to strike an appropriate balance between providing a common core curriculum and setting up structures that also allow you to study materials of personal interest.

That this course should help to set you up for future formal or informal study of world history rather than being a survey that teaches you "all that you need to know" about the ancient past.

Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1  (January 9-15): Introduction To Course And Ancient World History

Orientation For Week 1

HIS 120 Scavenger Hunt

Mister Dan Page HIS 120 Orientation Exercise

Discussion Forum Contributions

HIS 120 Scavenger Hunt

History Playhouse: Cyrus Cylinder

Listening And Viewing

"2600 Years Of History In One Object," Ted Global, July 2011.

  "The Library At Nineveh," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, May 15, 2008 (45 mins).

Reading Assignment

Cameron Laux, "The Story Of Handwriting In 12 Objects," BBC Culture, April 26, 2019.

***Letter Of Introduction Due through Brightspace (1%)

Week 2  (January 16-22): History Of The World In 100 Objects And Ancient Egypt

Orientation For Week 2

Discussion Forum Contributions

History Of The World In 100 Objects

Listening And Viewing

Episodes #1-10, History Of The World In 100 Objects (Making Us Human and After The Ice Age)

Episodes #11-20, History Of The World In 100 Objects (The First Cities And States and Beginning Of Science And Literature)

"Pharaohs Of The Sun," Egypt's Golden Empire (PBS, 2010) [55 mins]

Reading Assignment

Jose Lull, "Amarna Letters: Power, Princesses, And Presents," National Geographic History (November/December 2020): 32-43.

"Nefertiti: Artistic Icon, Enduring Enigma," National Geographic History (January/February 2022): 32-47.

Optional Extras:

"The Pharaoh And The Showman," Episode 3, Egypt: Rediscovering A Lost World (BBC, 2005) [56 mins].

Week 3  (January 23-29): Bronze Age Collapse And The Museum Of Lost Objects

Orientation For Week 3

Discussion Forum Contributions

Bronze Age Collapse

Museum Of Lost Objects

Listening And Viewing

  "The Aftermath Of Collapse: Bronze Age Edition," Throughline, NPR, September 2, 2021.  (56 mins)

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Museums And Ancient History (I): The Museum Of Lost Objects Discussion Topic

Optional Extras:

Browse in 1177 Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in Ancient Egypt In The News

***Wednesday, January 25:  History Of The World In 100 Objects Seminar Note Due (7%)   (You do not need to listen or read about all 20 objects but you should highlight at least a few different objects in your seminar note)

Week 4  (January 30 - February 5): Lives Of The Ancient Egyptians

Orientation For Week 4

Discussion Forum Contributions

Lives Of The Ancient Egyptians

Reading Assignment

Toby Wilkinson, Lives Of The Ancient Egyptians

Week 5  (February 6-12): The Greeks

Orientation For Week 5

Discussion Forum Contributions

History Playhouse:  National Geographic's The Greeks

Listening And Viewing

  Greeks, National Geographic:

Episode 1, Cavemen To Kings:

Episode 2, The Good Strife:

Episode 3, Chasing Greatness:

Reading Assignment

Carlos Garcia Gual, "Herodotus: The Father Of History," National Geographic History Magazine (March/April 2018): 40-51.

Adrienne Mayor, "The Real Amazons," National Geographic History Magazine (May/June 2020): 32-45.

Optional Extras:

Browse in Herodotus And Thucydides Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in Museums And Ancient History (2) -- The Elgin Marbles Discussion Topic.

"The Spartans" (PBS, 2004) [60 mins]  (Watch at least 1 hour of this 2 hour+ documentary)

  "Sparta," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, November 19, 2009.

***Wednesday, February 8:  Lives Of The Ancient Egyptians Seminar Note Due (7%)

Week 6  (February 13-19): Naked Olympics

Orientation For Week 6

Discussion Forum Contributions

Naked Olympics

Reading Assignment

Tony Perrottet, Naked Olympics

***Family Day And Reading Break, February 20-24

***Wednesday, February 22:  First Half Journal Due (30%) and Naked Olympics Seminar Note Due (7%)

Week 7  (February 27 - March 5): The Romans

Orientation For Week 7

Discussion Forum Contributions


History Playhouse: Meet The Romans

Listening And Viewing

  "Meet The Romans" (BBC, 2012) [60 mins] Watch at least one of the following

Episode 2, Street Life:

Episode 3, Behind Closed Doors:

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Pompeii Discussion Topic.

Juan Pablo Sanchez, "Death Of The Republic: Rome After Caesar," National Geographic History Magazine (May/June 2016): 52-61.

David Alvarez, "The Need For Speed: Chariot Racing In Rome," National Geographic History Magazine (May/June 2021): 60-75.

Jesus Rodriguez Morales, "Roman Roads: Arteries Of An Empire," National Geographic History Magazine (January/February 2020): 40-53.

Optional Extras:

Clelia Martinez Maza, "Roman Citizenship: Prize Of The Ancient World," National Geographic History Magazine (November/December 2019): 42-53.

Week 8  (March 6-12): Early Christianity

Orientation For Week 8

Discussion Forum Contributions

History Playhouse:  Jesus -- Rise To Power

Ancient Rome In The News

Listening And Viewing

  Jesus: Rise To Power, National Geographic, 2015.  Watch at least one of the following:

"Messiahs," Episode 1 [45 mins]

"Martyrs," Episode 2 [45 mins]

"Christians," Episode 3 [45 mins]

  "Christianity From Judaism To Constantine," Crash Course World History #11, April 5, 2012 [12 mins].

Reading Assignment

Browse in Ancient Rome In The News

Optional Extras:

Browse in Early Christianity In The News

Week 9  (March 13-19): After The Prophet

Orientation For Week 9

Discussion Forum Contributions

After The Prophet

History Of The World In 100 Objects Revisited

Reading Assignment

Lesley Hazleton, After The Prophet: The Epic Story Of The Shia-Sunni Split

Optional Extras:

Episodes #21-30, History Of The World In 100 Objects (Old Powers, New Powers and The World In The Age Of Confucius)

Episodes #31-40, History Of The World In 100 Objects (Empire Builders and Ancient Pleasures, Modern Spice)

Episodes #41-55, History Of The World In 100 Objects (Rise Of World Faiths and Silk Road And Beyond and Inside The Palace)

Week 10  (March 20-26): Indian And Chinese History

Orientation For Week 10

Discussion Forum Contributions

Indian And Chinese History

Listening And Viewing

"The Power Of Ideas," Episode 2, The Story Of India (BBC, 2008) [59 mins].

"Confucius," Genius Of The Ancient World (BBC, 2015) [59 mins].

Reading Assignment

Alex Traub, "India's Dangerous New Curriculum," New York Review Of Books (December 6, 2018).

Browse extensively in Ancient Indian History In The News

Browse extensively in From The Mauryans To The Mughals In The News

Optional Extras:

  "China: The Warring States Period," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, April 1, 2004 [45 mins].

"Beginnings", Episode 1, The Story Of India (BBC, 2008) [59 mins].

"Spice Routes And Silk Roads," Episode 3, The Story Of India (BBC, 2008) [59 mins].

Alice Albinia, "Chapter 3: Ethiopia's First Fruit," Empires Of The Indus: The Story Of A River (London: John Murray, 2--8): 52-78.

"Sun Tzu And The Art Of War," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, March 1, 2018 [48 mins].

"The Great Wall Of China," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, May 4, 2010 [45 mins].

***Monday, March 20:  After The Prophet Seminar Note Due (7%)

Week 11  (March 27 - April 2): The Silk Road

Orientation For Week 11

Discussion Forum Contributions

The Silk Road

Listening And Viewing

  "The Silk Road," BBC 4, 2016.  Watch at least one of the following:

Episode 1 [59 mins]

Episode 2 [59 mins]

Episode 3 [59 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Carles Buenacasa Perez, "The Silk Road: Connecting East And West," National Geographic History Magazine (January/February 2018): 64-77.

Browse extensively in the Silk Road Discussion Topic

Week 12  (April 3-7): The Mayans

Orientation For Week 12

Discussion Forum Contributions

Mayans In The News

Listening And Viewing

"Cracking The Mayan Code," NOVA, PBS, 2010 (54 mins.)

Reading Assignment

"Palenque: Maya City Of The Gods," National Geographic History Magazine (May/June 2022): 64-79.

Browse in Mayans In The News

Optional Extras:

"The Maya Civilization," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, March 10, 2016 [43 mins].

***Friday, April 7:  Second-Half Journal Due (22%)


Letter of Introduction


First-Half  Journal 


Second-Half  Journal 


Seminar Notes (4 x 5%) 28%

Discussion Forum Contributions


a)  Letter of Introduction (1%)

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least 100 words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole.  You need not use the following questions as cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away?  What do you miss and what do you think would most surprise me if I were to visit your hometown?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin HIS 120?  How familiar are you already with World History?  Are there topics associated with the course that you know will be of potential interest?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  This is an assignment I ask of students in each of my classes.  Although this is not a graded assignment, I would appreciate it if you took several minutes writing a thoughtful introduction?  If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, but mention something about each of the courses.  If you have taken a class with me before, please update what you wrote before and complete a new letter of introduction.

b)  Journal (30% + 22%) = 52%

The student journal is the main assignment in this class.  The purpose of the journal is to provide you the opportunity for frequent thoughtful, analytical and personal commentary upon course-related material.  The advantages of the journal, to my mind, are that it breaks work down into regular and manageable chunks, and that in enables you to seize hold of the curriculum in a way which reflects your own interests and style.

I have provided you with two different options for the Journal: (1) The Regular Journal; or (2) The Note-Taking/Journal Combo.  These are described in detail on the Assignments Page of my web-site.  You should familiarize yourself with these two models and make a clear choice between the options at the beginning of the course.

This assignment is designed to be coordinated with the Discussion Forum Contributions and it is perfectly appropriate to include material from your Journal in the Discussion Forums.  Do, however, try to engage in some interaction with your classmates.

It is expected that you work regularly on the Journal throughout the semester, writing in it on a weekly basis.  You will only need to hand in the Journal to me twice, however.

You will submit your First Half Journal to me through Brightspace at the end of the sixth week of the semester on Wednesday, February 22.  I want to check to ensure that you are making good progress on your Journal that we share a mutual understanding as to the nature of the assignment.  This submission will be graded and will be worth 30% of your course grade.

The Second Half Journal will then be due at the end of the course.  This submission will be worth 22% of your course grade.

c)  Seminar Note (4 x 7%) = 28%

The seminar note is a commentary of approximately two double-spaced pages apiece upon one of the course books.  Those students who did not either complete a seminar note in the first half of the semester or fold a Sapiens or Naked Olympics commentary into their First-Half Journal should hand in a second-half seminar note.

Seminar notes are commentaries upon the first segments of the History of the World in 100 Objects and upon the three required course texts (Lives Of The Ancient Egyptians, Naked Olympics, and After The Prophet).  The purpose of the seminar notes is to provide you with the opportunity to organize your thoughts after each of the common major readings and to facilitate analytical group discussion on our seminar days.  The notes need not be formal in style but should be well-organized and should highlight key themes from the reading.  The recommended length for each seminar note is 2+ pages (approximately 400+ words).

Rather than being graded on a letter scale, the seminar notes will be evaluated on a check, check-plus, check-plus+, and check-minus basis:

Check:  A fully satisfactory seminar note (7.3/10, B)

Check-Plus:  A strong note that offers thoughtful analysis and/or a well-developed commentary upon the text (8.6/10, A)

Check-Plus+:  An outstanding seminar note that pushes far beyond the basic expectations for this assignment (9.5,A+)

Check-Minus:  A weak seminar note that includes some material of relevance but does not successfully engage with the reading (6.1, C)

The first three seminar notes will be due before the First Journal hand-in, while the final notes will be due before the Second Journal.  However, you will be asked to hand in your seminar notes again with each Journal installment.  Thus, strong seminar notes count double and will provide you with anchor entries for your Journal.

d)  Discussion Forum Contributions (19%) (History Playhouse Contributions and Other Discussion Forum Contributions)

The Brightspace Discussion Forums are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates.  You should try to offer commentary upon a weekly basis.  Evaluation will be based not just upon the number of contributions but rather more on the level of their thoughtfulness, with added appreciation for genuine engagement with fellow students.

The Discussion Forums will be divided into your reflections upon the course documentaries (History Playhouse) and your discussions upon other course materials.  This is in part to emphasize the importance that I attach to the HIS 122 viewing responsibilities.  There are several feature videos that rest near the heart of the curriculum.  Please do not make any History Playhouse comments on documentaries that you have watched yourself.

As mentioned above, it is fine to have considerable overlap between your Discussion Forum Contributions and your Journal entries.  But it is expected that you will put considerable time and thought into each Discussion Forum Contribution and that each contribution will represent your original ideas.  Much better to have short entries that represent your own engagement with the course material than Wikipedia-style Discussion Forum Contributions.

There is an average of two Discussion Forums a week.  You certainly are not expected to contribute to each of these forums.  I hesitate to suggest a quantitative target, but would estimate that engaged students will have contributed to twelve or more Discussion Forums by the end of the term.  Try your best to keep current with the Discussion Forums as we move throughout the semester.  I will leave Discussion Forums up for two weeks after we have moved on to new topics but then will close old Forums as we proceed.

We also will be holding optional BlueJeans discussions.  Although there is no requirement that you attend these sessions, I hope that they will foster a sense of group learning.  Those students who do participate regularly in this aspect of the course will receive credit here towards their Discussion Forum grade.

Time Commitment

Although the time it takes individual students to complete course responsibilities varies individually, I have set up the course with the expectation that you will probably need to devote a minimum of four hours a week to this course on a regular basis right from the start of the semester to properly engage with it.  It is important that you not fall behind on your assignments.  Please stay in close communication with me and let me know if you are experiencing challenges in keeping up with the curriculum.  The syllabus is loaded with many materials and includes an array of options.  You should give yourself permission to slow down and go more in-depth on topics of particular interest and be confident that you should do well in the course so long that you approach your studies with consistent effort and academic rigor.

Late Policy

The curriculum for this course is organized on a week-by-week basis, with regular seminars being dependent upon full pre-class student preparation for their success.  Late assignments are also often an extra burden from an instructor standpoint.  Due dates should be noted and met.

However, I appreciate that there may be occasions where a very few extra days to polish an assignment in the midst of competing deadlines can be helpful, and thus I deliberately assume a good-faith effort on the part of students to meet the due dates and provide a small cushion of flexibility without any academic penalty.   That does not mean the due dates are unimportant or that extensions are automatically granted.  You should discuss possible extensions with me directly and I reserve the right to refuse to accept any late major assignment if you do not check in with me first.  As a general rule, no assignment will be accepted more than two weeks late.

Writing Support And Peer Tutoring

Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost.  Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments.  Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer.  Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process.  The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between.  Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins.  There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback.  Both services may be found at https://library.nic.bc.ca/WritingSupport .

Student Technical Services

Our Student Technical Service team is available to help you with any technical issues that you may be experiencing as a student.  Please go to https://library.nic.bc.ca/studenttech for more information.

Learn Anywhere

NIC's Learn Anywhere website is geared to provide a collection of information that will help you be successful learning digitally by covering area such as: What is digital learning? How to be a digital learner while using NIC-supported technologies during your studies? A list of key skills and knowledge all students should have for successful learning in today's world, knowing your rights and responsibilities and Technology Readiness Checklists. More details at: https://learnanywhere.opened.ca/

Community Supports (24/7)

There are several supports available to help any student in distress. If you are in distress, please reach out for support.

Vancouver Island Crisis Line:  24/7 1-888-494-3888 (Available to students located on Vancouver Island only)

Crisis Suicide helpline:  24/7 1-800-784-2433 (Available to students located in Canada only)

BC 211:  Full list of community services available across BC.  Dial 2-1-1 on BC cellphone (Available to students located in BC only).

Here2Talk24/7 counselling support for post-secondary students: 1-877-857-3397 (Available to students located in Canada and offshore).

A Note On Plagiarism And Academic Dishonesty

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in being reported to the Academic Integrity Committee and in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here.  I want to help you to get as much out of this course as possible but, for this to happen, you need to put forth strong and honest effort.  Some students have been using contracted outsiders to complete their work.  Please do not do this.  What may seem like a dishonest but private choice is actually one with ripple effects that not only disheartens your instructor but which also very negatively impacts upon the education of your classmates.  Thank you.

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)




web stats