If we had the reverb and the talent, we’d introduce this week’s podcast like one of those guys touting a monster truck event on “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY.” Because this week we’re talking about Big History–and calling it Big is actually kind of an understatement.
That’s because practitioners of Big History, like today’s guest Craig Benjamin, begin a history survey not with Mesopotamia, or ancient China, or even homo sapiens squeaking past homo neanderthalis. No, they begin with the Big Bang…which happened quite some time before there were any humans around to enjoy the show. Big History says that, to understand human history–and humanity–it’s first necessary to begin appreciating the size and complexity of the entire universe. In doing that, the argument goes, we will begin to improve ourselves morally and spiritually; or, failing that, we’ll have a really fantastic general education course. Please note that these are two very different outcomes.
With us to talk about these outcomes, and to give a lightning fast overview of Big History “from the Big Bang to you” is Craig Benjamin. He is associate professor of history at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan Craig is president (for just one-and-a-half more weeks, he tells me) of the World History Society; he’s also a charter member of the International Big History Association. In fact, he’s probably the second person ever to teach a course on Big History. As you’ll hear, he’s a great person to have a chat with; hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
For Further Investigation
The Big History Project: if you take the tests, you’ll get a sticker.
David Christian presents the history of the world in 18 minutes
A definitive Big History Course, taught by Dr. David Christian
Or how about these for a Christmas gift or two?