The 2016 Syllabus
"Understanding of Nature (Big History)"
THE FIRST EVER
BIG HISTORY COURSE IN JAPAN
Professors: Hirofumi Katayama and Ryosuke Miyawaki
College of Arts and Sciences, J. F. Oberlin University
1. Course Content
Big History (earth and cosmic history) is a project to consider the place of humanity in cosmic history and cope with global issues while reviewing the 13.8 billion years of the universe. Big History seeks to cosmologically, philosophically and poetically consider the essence of the universe, life and humanity and the meaning of human existence in the universe throughout the 13.8-billion-year history with scientific information we can use today.
Big History Project is originally a new educational program in which the educators including Professor David Christian at Macquarie University have engaged with financial support of Bill Gates, while our course as a part of the Oberlin Big History Project is the first ever course in Japan whose theme is Big History.
In this course, we will overview from the birth of the universe and the formation of the stars, galaxies, our solar system and Earth via the origins and evolution of life on Earth and the origins of humankinds and the emergence of civilization to modern and contemporary eras, and then look to the near future of humans.
We hope that you, our students, will freely develop your own picture on the essence of the universe, life and humanity based on scientific and historical knowledge rather than to keep such knowledge in your mind. Please apply a vast vision of Big History to global problems we face today.
2. Attainment Target
(1) To be able to think of the meaning that the world and you exist from a cosmic viewpoint
(2) To be able to grasp a global issue from a cosmic viewpoint and find a solution for it
Lecture 1 (Sep. 20)Introduction
Lecture 2 (Sep. 27)Big Bang: The Beginning of the Universe
Lecture 3 (Oct. 4)The Formation of the Solar System and the Earth
Lecture 4 (Oct. 11)The Emergence of Life
Lecture 5 (Oct. 18)History of the Evolution of Life
Lecture 6 (Oct. 25)History of the Evolution of Life (continued)
Lecture 7 (Nov. 1)Special Lecture ( 1 )
Lecture 8 (Nov. 8)The Emergence of Humankinds
Lecture 9 (Nov. 15)The Era of Agrarian Civilizations
Lecture 10 (Nov. 22)The Modern Era
Lecture 11 (Nov. 29)Special Lecture ( 2 )
The lecture cancellation (Dec. 6)
Lecture 12 (Dec. 13)In a Time of the Anthropocene
Lecture 13 (Dec. 20)Extra-terrestrial Life
Lecture 14 (Jan. 17)Special Lecture ( 3 )
Lecture 15 (Jan. 24)Wrap-up
( 1 ) "Big History and Biodiversity" by Tatsuo Motokawa (Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Institute of Technology)
( 2 ) "Human-caused Scratches on Earth Considered from Space Agriculture" by Masamichi Yamashita (Professor Emeritus, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, JAXA)
( 3 ) "Big History and Information Revolution" by Wataru Sasaki (Developer of Hatsune Miku, Crypton Future Media, INC.)
4. Oberlin Big History Project
Our volantury students have just launched the "Oberlin Big History Project (OBHP)"as a voluntary seminar under the slogan of "Think Cosmically, Act Globally". In this year, the OBHP team will take part in COP 13 (Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) in Cancun, Mexico and make a presentation titled "Mainstreaming Biodiversity Utilizing 'Big History'" as a side event there (we call it Cancun Mission). Our team will make a report of Cancun Mission at the final lecture.
New members have been wanted. So please don't hesitate to contact us if you are interested in it.
5. Text and Reference
Christian, David (2007) This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity, Great Barrington, Mass.: Berkshire.
Kaifu, Norio, Motonori Hoshi and Shigenori Maruyama eds. (2015) Life in the Universe, Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press (in Japanese).
You need to submit a reaction paper at the end of every class and a term paper at the end of a semester, whose theme will be "Describe your vision on your role in the universe".
If you have any questions and anything, please contact Katayama.
Office Hours: 2nd period on Tuesday, 3rd period on Thursday at B411, Suteikan