This is the syllabus page for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, The Foundation of Western Civilization. This course may be taken to satisfy Goal 10A of the General Education Requirements of Idaho State University and three credits of the World Regions requirement for History majors and minors. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

You may return to the course main page or to the J. B. Owens Main Page.

HISTORY MAJORS: This course forms part of the History Major program. As such it is part of a progression of courses designed to enable you to develop certain cognitive and expressive skills. In order to do well in the program, it is important that you understand what is expected of you. Therefore, you should read now about the undergraduate major program in History. Pay particular attention to the Historical Thinking Objectives section of this page. Your History 101 course is designed to emphasize Objective 3 ("Understand regions as historical entities, including change in their spatial dimensions and characteristics over time") and Objective 7 ("Understand ideas and values and how they are interpreted and transformed in historical contexts"), although the course will also reinforce several of the other objectives.

The Foundation of Western Civilization

This is the syllabus for J. B. Owens's summer 2007 section of History 101, "The Foundation of Western Civilization." To move to other pages, indicated in this text by special highlighted areas, use your mouse or hit the Enter key when the cursor is in one of these areas, depending on the type of browser you are using.

Dr. Owens may be reached by e-mail at (owenjack - at - isu.ed), or you may send him a message now by selecting this highlighted command: MAIL NOW. Please include your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

Select any of the highlighted section titles below, and you will move to that section. At the end of a section, you will be able to return to the "Skip Ahead" list.

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The following book is to be purchased: Kishlansky and others, A Brief History of Western Civilization: The Unfinished Legacy (vol. 1, 4th ed., 2005). You will obtain Owens, The Foundations of Europe as a World Region (draft; working title) on WebCT. You will need to have both the Kishlansky and Owens books with you in class on Tuesday, 12 June, and you will need to bring them to every class session thereafter.

You will find it useful to use some of the materials from the web site for the Kishlansky book even though the organization of your course does not follow closely that of the book.

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Grades will be based on the exams and on student class performance.

There will be two exams in this course: 20 June and 5 July. Both exams will be held in the regular classroom, Liberal Arts 328. Both will be of equal value in determining a student's final grade, although for those students on the borderline between two grades, the second exam will be weighted more heavily.

Both exams will be ESSAY format. For each of these exams, you will need to bring to class the type of examination book known as a "blue book." Most students will only need one blue book per exam, but some students often use more than one. Therefore, you should come prepared.

To understand how your examinations will be graded, READ in the Introduction in the Owens book entitled "Introduction to Doing Well," the section "Grading Exams." In this chapter, you will also find considerable information about preparing for and taking the examinations.

Students will be excused from exams only for illness or death, usually their own, or for any other reason for which the President of the University will excuse a student (because I know what he would say, ask me for the excuse, not him). No excuse will be given, however, unless the instructor is notified (by e-mail or a telephone message) of the request PRIOR to the time of the regular exam. A make-up exam will be necessary. All make-up examinations will be ESSAY format, and those students taking this type of exam will be expected to provide a university examination book (blue book) in which the required essays will be written.

Because the exams will be graded on points and failure to take one will give the student a zero, no one should take an unexcused absence from an exam or fail to make one up.

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In class you will often be introduced to interpretations different from those in the Kishlansky book. Success on the examinations will depend heavily on your ability to understand Kishlansky et al's interpretations and mine. In order to study and reflect on the ideas presented in class, you will have to take good notes: that is, notes that reflect accurately the positions I present.

Failure to take good notes from the beginning will trouble you throughout. Also, the note-taking process will convert your class attendance from a passive activity to an active one, which is essential for learning. In fact, note-taking is one of the fastest, most effective ways to create and stabilize new synapses in your brain because you must repeatedly convert into your own language the concepts and information to which you are introduced in class.

You may make an audio recording of class sessions if you wish, but these will be of most use to you if you also take complete written notes and use the recordings only to clarify points poorly expressed in the written version. Most of the factual material discussed in class is listed at the beginning of each section of the class topics and reading assignments page. The online support section for the Kishlansky book contains outlines of each chapter, which may alert you to important concepts, which might be discussed in class.

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Selecting this link will take you to the class topics and reading assignments page.
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Mail any questions or comments to (owenjack _ at _, or if your system will support it, you may send a message NOW. Please include your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

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CONSIDER: "A traveller, who has lost his way, should not ask, 'Where am I?' What he really wants to know is, Where are the other places? He has got his own body, but he has lost them."

-- Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality

The meaning of an historical action, text, or process is based not only on the thing itself but also on what is rejected, explicitly or implicitly, by the actor or actors. A civilization is a conceptual framework created, sustained, and modified by some elite religious or other ideologically-motivated group. Such a "great tradition" typically encompasses a large area and population, often with resisting groups and with numerous "local" or "little traditions" that regularly influence and are influenced by the "great tradition." The history of "western civilization" is a complex one within which a number of groups and traditions have sought predominance and have been in conflict. This course should help you develop the analytical skills necessary to pull together diverse socioeconomic, institutional, cultural, and personality factors into an understanding of historical change in those areas considered part of "western civilization" by its intellectual leaders.

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All contents copyright © 1996-2007.
J. B. Owens
All rights reserved.

Revised: 10 June 2007