Over the course of this class, you have been introduced to the study of history. You have learned why it matters as a subject, how historians practice their craft and share their knowledge, and how events are shaped by their larger historical context. By this learning block, you have learned the value of examining historical events for their impact on contemporary issues. We are closing this class by asking you, once again, why is history important?
In learning block 1-2, it was noted that history means different things to different people. In learning block 1-3, you considered why history matters. For years, those who study the past have put forth arguments on why they do what they do. Famous for his sixteenth-century work The Prince, Italian diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli (1882) once stated, “Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times” (p. 422). In this learning block, you will take what you have learned over the course of this term and consider whether or not Machiavelli’s words still ring true today.
Machiavelli, N. (1882). The historical, political, and diplomatic writings (Vols. 1–4) (C. Detmold, Trans.). Boston, MA: James R. Osgood and Company. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/diplomaticwritin02machuoft#page/422/mode/2up
1. Revisit learning block 1-2 to consider your previous thoughts on the study of history and reflect on how your thinking on history has evolved. Finally, respond to the following question:
Now that you are coming to the end of this course, has your perception of history evolved since module one? Why or why not?
2. Niccolò Machiavelli once stated, “Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.” With this quote in mind and reflecting on your research this term consider this question:
Choose a contemporary issue and describe how your perception of that issue could have changed based on your research of your topic?
In response to peers, explain whether or not you share your peer’s perception of the selected contemporary issue. Why or why not?
For your response posts (2), you must do the following:
classmates Post #1:
My topic for my project was the rule of Chairman Mao in China and the effect Joseph Stalin’s decisions and influence had on the decisions made and outcomes during his rule. They both had intentionally created famines that cost many lives in both instances. It seems that a big factor in that was to tighten their grip and power of their dictatorship. Now 40 years removed from Mao, China with their Reform and Open Up that was 1978 by Deng Xiaoping and gets credit from the communist party as the reason for prosperity and growth in China over the last four decades. What I found interesting looking into this is that agriculture is again being used as a way to tighten political control of the country and its citizens. Data shows that China has continually increased its production of agriculture since the 70’s but not surprisingly “the decision to launch agricultural reforms made by farmers, as the official account claims, but rather by China’s top leaders, because it helped them consolidate their political power” (Eisenman, 2018). So after reading this article, I thought about it in a different way because of the history of the tactics used to control the power and the people with food used as the motivator or excuse. I never would’ve thought about the fact that in a society like that, whether it is communist or a complete dictatorship, that the food or lack of would be a tactic to increase control.
Eisenman, J. (2018, November 15). What we really know about China’s Reform and Opening Up. Retrieved April 25, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/11/15/what-we-really-know-about-chinas-reform-and-opening-up/
classmates Post #2:
My view of history and its interpretation have evolved dramatically since module one. I have not explored much about history since grade school. I identified that my knowledge of the subject that I chose was very limited compared to what it is now at the end of the course. I have learned different ways to view history such as historical lenses and biases. I realized that my perception of history and its interpretation have changed throughout this course after re-visiting a contemporary issue facing our society. I have had a strong one-sided viewpoint on this subject until recently when I looked at it from a different viewpoint. This will be further discussed in the following paragraph. I believe that the work related to this course has given me the tools to further understand history and its influence in the modern issues we face today. During my research for the multimedia project, I discovered a quote that I feel truly represents the importance of understanding history. The quote is by Michael Crichton, “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know its part of a tree.” I believe that we are all leaves connected to one giant historical tree. We may be on seperate branches and unable to see eachother through the canopy but we are all connceted and fed by the same network of roots that nurish our existence.
One of the contemporary issues facing our society recently is increased gun control. This has become a heated debate between the support and opposition for further gun control and the founding fathers’ intentions for the 2nd amendment. I have been on the fence with this issue but have tended to lean further towards the opposition due to my own beliefs and bias. The topic I chose was the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. This directly relates to debates about gun control as the second amendment represents the right to bear arms. Supporters of gun control argue that the 2nd amendment is outdated and was relevant for times that preceded a well-defined military force. These supporters argue that the purpose of the 2nd amendment was to ensure a well-equipped militia of citizens in times of war during the nation’s adolescent years. Those in opposition argue that the 2nd amendment ensures democracy by allowing citizens to defend themselves against governmental abuse of their rights. Those in opposition also argue that allowing revision to the 2nd amendment would allow for easier revision of other amendments which could trigger a change in our entire governmental structure and basic civil rights that our nation was founded on. The research that I have completed on my topic has allowed me to revisit this contemporary issue through many lenses and further understand arguments of both sides rather than my original bias based on limited knowledge. I plan to further investigate the arguments of both sides which I will utilize to influence the decisions I make in the future regarding this issue as well as other contemporary issues of the future.
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