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A History of the World since 1300

This course will examine the ways in which the world has grown more integrated yet more divided over the past 700 years.


Course at a Glance


About the Course

This course explores the history of the modern world since Chinggis Khan. It focuses on the connections between societies from the time of the Mongol conquests and the gradual, but accelerating ways in which connections became ties of inter-dependence. The relations between societies are what will concern us. The forces pulling the world together vary from religious to economic, political to intellectual. These forces bring the world together, but they also create new divisions. Nowadays, we call this "globalization." That term has tended to emphasize the drive to worldwide integration; the view of globalization taken in this course emphasizes disintegration as well as integration. We will tackle some very basic questions: How do we explain the staggering wealth of China in the centuries up to 1750, as well as China's recent ascent? Where did the United States come from, and where is it headed? What are the significance and legacies of empire in the world? How have world wars and revolutions shaped the international system over time? What exactly is globalization, and how does today's globalization compare with the past? How has the relationship between humans and nature changed over the centuries?

Course Syllabus

  • Lecture 1: What is World History?
  • Lecture 2: Peoples, Plagues and Plunders
  • Lecture 3: Warfare and Motion
  • Lecture 4: Conquests
  • Lecture 5: The Beginnings of Globalization in the Atlantic Worlds
  • Lecture 6: The Beginnings of Globalization in the Indian Ocean Worlds
  • Lecture 7: The Worlds that Merchants Made
  • Lecture 8: The Seventeenth-Century Crisis
  • Lecture 9: Empire and Enlightenment
  • Lecture 10: The Wealth of Nations
  • Lecture 11: The World in Revolution
  • Lecture 12: States and Nations
  • Lecture 13: Global Frontiers
  • Lecture 14: Empires and Nations
  • Lecture 15: Worlds in Motion
  • Lecture 16: The Peak of Eurocentrism
  • Lecture 17: Retreat of the Elephants
  • Lecture 18: The World in 1914
  • Lecture 19: Civilization and its Discontents
  • Lecture 20: Worlds at War
  • Lecture 21: Apex to Aftermath
  • Lecture 22: Three World Orders
  • Lecture 23: Our Globalization
  • Lecture 24: Back to the Future

Recommended Background

Anyone and everyone is welcome to take this class.

Suggested Readings

Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, we recommend (but do not require) that students refer to the book Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World: From 1000 CE to the Present (Third Edition) (Vol. 2), which was written specifically for this course.

Course Format

This course is comprised of twenty four lectures - two lectures per week, which are approximately 50 minutes each, but segmented into parts with short quizzes that will enable you to engage with the material and check your understanding. Student work for this course includes 6 short essays, which will be given at the beginning of every second week in the course.  In addition, we strongly urge students to participate in the online forum discussions for more regular, active engagement with the course material.


  • Does Princeton award credentials or reports regarding my work in this course?

    No certificates, statements of accomplishment, or other credentials will be awarded in connection with this course.