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Birth of the Modern World




Admissions requirements



This course provides an overview of the major transitions in human history from the onset of civilization. The main focus, however, will be on the period after 1500 and especially the 19th and 20th century. The course uses recent debates in the field of Global History as an inroad to challenge the still dominant state-centred and ‘big men’ approaches to history. As such it seeks to actively contribute to the decolonizing of historical knowledge and to the ‘provincializing’ of Eurocentric narratives. Through exercises in critical reading and by discussing a multiplicity of viewpoints students will learn to think historically and critically about the past.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, it is my intention that students will be able to:

  • explain (and demonstrate!) what it means to ‘think historically’;

  • discuss the significant patterns, processes, and events of global history;

  • provide a critical historical perspective on the concept of “globalization”;

  • summarize, analyze, compare, and evaluate the competing arguments of historians; and

  • engage with dense, sometimes lengthy scholarly texts—both critically and carefully, but also with dispatch.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

During this class we will practice critical reading by organizing debates on the assigned literature, individual writing assignments, and a walking tour of The Hague. Students will become practiced in “thinking historically” about social, economic, and political phenomenon that continue to shape our world today by bringing current events explicitly into the discussion of the literature.


Class participation (20% of final grade)

  • Grades are based on role in debates

Web Posts or ACI (40% of final grade)- These must be submitted via Blackboard before class.

  • They should reflect historical thinking

  • They should demonstrate the ability to process relatively large amounts of text

  • They should demonstrate the ability to read critically

Final paper of 1500-2000 words (40%)

  • Week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Lewis Mumford, The City in History (San Diego 1961).
Bill Freund, The African City: A History (Cambridge 2007).


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact