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Perspectives on Human Institutions Development of a Major Civilization
EH-101      Early European Civilization
Catalog Description

Survey of the history of Early European Civilization from ancient times to the post-Columbian era.

Course Content

This course entails a systematic study of a variety of human experiences from ancient times to the European expansion into the rest of the world. It examines social, political, economic, and cultural institutions of the various periods of early European history. It describes the characteristics of the institutions, the particular types of experiences they provided during a given period, how those characteristics were derived from earlier times and how they influenced subsequent eras. In addition, the course investigates the people of Europe, both the elite members of society and their struggles for power and the ordinary people and their efforts to survive in a society where they had little or no power and their voices were seldom heard.


Early European Civilization explores the blending of cultures in the formation of Europe, what common characteristics emerged to mark early Europeans as members of the same civilization and what differences remained to make early Europe a series of cultures and sub-cultures. It also shows how early European Civilization was distinct from the cultures that preceded it and how it interacted with civilizations that preceded it, as well as contemporary non-European civilizations.

Nature of Course

The primary instructional methods employed in this course are lecture and small-group discussions. Lectures provide broad summaries of historical periods and in-depth explorations of particular developments in a given period. Electronic maps provide a geographic perspective to many of the lectures. Small group discussions examine excerpts from the writings of people who lived in particular time and from contemporary historians who have written about the era. They aim at analysis, summary, and reaction to these excerpts, and they involve discovery of the themes among the various sources.


Early European Civilization provides opportunities for students to locate and gather information, think critically, and communicate both orally and in writing. These skills are developed through a guided discussion of historical research methods and a bibliographical research activity in Kent Library that use the tools for gathering biographical information about historical figures. They are cultivated through research into the life and accomplishments of a significant person from early Europe, which is presented in a biographical sketch. They also are acquired through brief summaries of and reactions to the primary and secondary sources that are discussed in small groups. In addition to the research and discussion activities, these intellectual skills are fostered by means of essays in answer to examination questions prepared outside of class.

Student Expectations

Students will be expected to read assignments for lecture sessions as well as primary and secondary source assignments for small-group discussions. They will be required to write and present brief oral summaries of primary and secondary sources from an anthology, to research and write a brief biographical sketch on a significant figure of early European history and to answer essay questions on examinations. They also will be expected to identify significant historical persons, places, and events, and locate countries, their capitals, and important physical features on a map of Europe.





Credit Hours 3