Nature and Knowledge from the Greeks to the Aztecs

HC 231H

Professor: Mark Carey

This course on global history examines how ideas about nature and practices of environmental management shaped pre-modern societies from ancient times to roughly 1450. It illustrates how scientific knowledge and innovations -- such as Greek physics, Mayan mathematics, Inca engineering, and Aztec botany -- were fundamental for the development of these societies. Students will see how science facilitated political power and imperial expansion. Science also led to cultural change and urbanization, while influencing agricultural and technological innovations. The course is globally oriented but focuses on non-western societies, especially those in the Americas. In particular, it seeks to demonstrate how the Mayas, Moche, Incas, Aztecs, and others created advanced and fascinating societies that deserve to be recognized and studied, instead of relegating them to the periphery as most Western Civilization approaches often do. There will be a significant emphasis on critical thinking and reading, writing, and oral communication.