LITTLE BIG HISTORY ASSIGNMENT Assignment summary Write your own little big history (in Dutch or English): Select a subject or object that you really like. Find one connection between your choice and a topic discussed in each class mentioned in the assignment form. Elaborate the three most intriguing connections that you have found between your choice and big history: one connection must come from the history of the non-living world, one from the history of life, and one from human history.
Combine these three elaborations into one single story, discussing the possible links between the three connections that you have found. Goals of the assignment The little big history assignment has several goals. First of all, and most importantly, by linking your subject or object to all of big history, it becomes clear that all its phases can be found in your choice. This enriches your understanding of it, because it is examined from multiple, interdisciplinary, perspectives. Secondly, the assignment encourages you to come up with new, unusual, ideas.
It has long been argued that “all decisive advances in the history of scientific thought can be described in terms of mental cross-fertilization between different disciplines. l The discovery of the planets’ movements and the structure of DNA can serve as examples. The astronomer Johannes Keppler allegedly came up with his laws of planetary motion by picturing the Sun, the stars and the dark space in-between them as the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. And Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, reported he first came up with the double helix model of DNA after thinking about reproducing sculptures with the aid of plaster molds. Big history provides a platform that enables you to think ‘out of the box’ along similar lines; it nables you to connect things to all different disciplines and allows new ideas to emerge from these links. In other words, the little big history assignment challenges you to take advantage of the big history platform and come up with creative, new, ideas. Thirdly, it helps to bring to life more abstract concepts presented in the course by linking them to a subject or object that is important to you personally. Assignment in more detail You can pick anything that you like.
For instance, you can pick subjects like Why people wage wars,’ or Why people developed democracies,’ or objects like your martphone or house. Describe your choice, including your reasons for choosing it, in the form attached below in approximately 100 words. Connect your choice to a topic discussed in every class. You must link your choice to one single aspect of the topics discussed in each class that strikes you as interesting. Do not try to connect your choice to all the topics discussed in each class. For instance, you must find connections to one aspect of the origin of the universe, the solar system, the emergence of early humans, etc.
You can connect your subject or object to an aspect of each class in several ways: You an look for processes or circumstances that enabled your subject or object to become the way it is today. You can look for patterns in your subject or object that are or are not similar to patterns described during a class. Let’s assume that your object is your house and that you are trying to link it to a class on the early Universe. You can do so by describing how the fundamental forces that emerged in the early Universe have influenced the construction of your house.
And you can also do so by describing why the shapes of the stars that emerged in the early Universe were so ifferent from the shape of your house. While looking for connections between your subject and an aspect of each class, keep in mind that many of the most interesting ones: Are specific and / or, Include questions. For instance, a rather specific description of how gravity and electromagnetism interact in the structure of your house is more interesting than the general statement that both your house and the Universe had a beginning.
And the question of why stars are spherical whereas most houses are not is more interesting than the mere observation that the shapes of stars and houses are not the same. Please also keep in mind that during this stage of the assignment, you should try to be as creative as possible and should not try to suppress any wild ideas that you may have. Instead, you should explore such ideas and try to see whether they are useful or not. If it turns out they are not, that is fine, too.
After you have found a connection between your subject or object and a topic discussed in a class, you must describe it on the attached form in approximately 100 words. If for some reason you cannot find a link, please describe this reason instead. Elaborate three of the most intriguing connections that you have found between your hoice and big history: one connection to the history of the non-living world, one to the history of life, and one to human history. Some of the connections you have found will turn out to be more useful and interesting than others.
This is an intrinsic characteristic of scientific inquiry: one has to generate lots of ideas, while only a few of them may actually work. Because not all of the connections will be equally useful or interesting, you don’t have to elaborate all of them. You must write your final essay based on these three most interesting connections. One connection must be between your subject or object and the history of the non- living world, the second connection between your subject and the history of life, and the third connection between your subject and human history.
You must support your elaborated connections with empirical evidence. You can use any type of empirical evidence you want, as long as you weigh it carefully. For instance, if you use your own observations as evidence, be aware of things you might not be able to observe. And if you use a website or other non-peer reviewed source, please consider the trustworthiness of your source. If you have any doubts about your source, please mention this in your elaborations. Document your sources carefully, using a citation style of your own choice.
Elaborate each of your chosen connections in approximately 800 words (2 pages). Combine the three elaborations into one single story, discussing possible links between the three connections that you may have found. If for some reason you were unable to find such new links, please explain what the reasons were. Assignment grading The assignment is due on Tuesday May 28th. You should post your assignment on the Big History website (http://www. ighistory. nl), under ‘Assignments’.
Your assignment results, including the filled out form, will be graded as either ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘insufficient’. Grading will be based on: Knowledge and insight (x 3) Structure and style (x 1) Creativity (x 1) A ‘good’ assignment will add 3 points to your multiple choice test grade (which will count for 70% of the final course grade). A ‘sufficient’ assignment will add 2 points. An ‘insufficient’ assignment will add 1 point. If you don’t hand in a (serious) assignment or don’t stick to the assignment, you will receive no points on top of your multiple hoice test grade.
Feedback If you need any help or feedback while working on the assignment, you can always ask either Esther Quaedackers or Fred Spier before or after classes. It is also possible to make an appoinment with Esther Quaedackers to discuss your assignment on Tuesdays and Fridays, between 1 1 AM and 1 PM. Little big history subject Describe your subject and the reasons you chose it in approximately 100 words. History, energy and complexity Describe the connection between your subject and an aspect of this class in approximately 100 words. The origin of the Universe pproximately 100 words.
The evolution of the Universe approximately 100 words. Our Solar System approximately 100 words. System Earth approximately 100 words. Earth and life approximately 100 words. The RNA-world approximately 100 words. Life and catastrophes approximately 100 words. Life and evolution approximately 100 words. The development of life approximately 100 words. Human evolution approximately 100 words. Hunters and gatherers approximately 100 words. Evolution of the human brain approximately 100 words. Long term climate change and clvilizations approximately 100 words.
The influence of solar activity on our climate approximately 100 words. Agrarization approximately 100 words. Early states approximately 100 words. Large states approximately 100 words. Big politics approximately 100 words. The European expansion approximately 100 words. The rise of modern science approximately 100 words. Industrialisation approximately 100 words. Economy and history approximately 100 words. Lecture by Arturo Giraldez approximately 100 words. Physical and social aspects of the global environment approximately 100 words. The future approximately 100 words.