HIST 275: The Modern World in Historical Perspective

Spring 2021 | Remote Instruction

US President dining with Japanese government officials

Course Topics and Description

This course is a second-year survey of the 20th Century primarily from the point-of-view of non-Western states. For our selected theme this Spring 2020, we will be examining how East Asia and the Western Pacific went from being subject to Western imperialism to generally prosperous states by the end of the 20th Century. As History 275 is a form of a selected theme course, our core frameworks this term are:

  • View: Mostly non-Western perspectives, though not exclusively.
  • Subject: Major events related to war, peace, international relations, and Great Power relations; the growth of modern East Asian and Western Pacific states.
  • Place: States that touch the Pacific Ocean, or heavily influence a state that does.
  • Time: Between the mid/late-1800s and the 1990s.

Other topics covered will include many of the aspects noted in the Calendar Description and we will keep an eye to the human impact of these events. Topics in greatest focus, this term, are Japan at war, China's turbulent past century-and-a-half, U.S. and Russian influences, comparative decolonization, and the dynamics of the Cold War. If this course's theme had a nickname, it would be "Empires of the Pacific" and the main drive is to survey the evolution of relevant states through the 20th Century.

Our main goals will be:

  1. To imprint knowledge on the most important aspects of the subject matter through reading, listening, viewing, and personal reflections with a tiny bit of testing on comprehension.
  2. To develop small group work, analytical, and leadership skills through experiential discussions based on primary and secondary historical sources.
  3. To practice researching and analyzing primary documents online and developing analytical skills through independent studies of primary and secondary documents and how we interpret those.

Mode of Instruction

We have no synchronous aspects of the course this term and operate asynchronously, though with time limits.

This course is delivered entirely online, primarily using the Waterloo LEARN platform. Delivery consists of a mix of short lecture notes, slideshows, and several weekly 5-min videos from the professor, and discussion components. Participation in discussions is required at least four times this term with small groups of four to six students.

Our course manifests itself in three streams: the Lecture Stream includes consuming and reflecting on lecture material; the Independent Study Stream involves submitting a written assignment on a primary source document and another written assignment on a secondary source document; and a Participation Stream where students lead conversations based off of questions related to the lectures.

Tentative Evaluation Structure

Please note that evaluation information is for student planning and reference purposes only. Evaluations are subject to change at the instructor's discretion from what is listed here.

Reflections: 6 x 10% = 60%

Participation: 4 x 05% = 20%

Independent Study Unit = 20% (Research Essay or Final Reflection)