The inimitable E.K. Hornbeck gave me a great idea today. He suggested that for next year’s 4th year Global Health & Development class I ask the students to list what they believe to be the top ten most important events of the last thousand years. So, if you’re one of my incoming students, consider this a heads-up. Having given the question a passing thought, here’s my first attempt at a meaningful list:
- The Crusades (11th-13th centuries)
- The rise and fall of the Mongol empire (13th and 14th centuries)
- Columbus “discovers” America (1492)
- Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press (15th century)
- Galileo championing Copernicanism (16th century)
- US Independence (1776)
- Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859)
- The abolition of slavery in Britain and eventually in the USA (19th century)
- Universal suffrage for women in the Western world (19th and 20th centuries)
- The world wars of the 20th century (WWI, WWII and the Cold War)
Of the above, I would rank Columbus’s arrival in the New World as the most important event, possibly in all of human history. There are so many more I’d like to add to the list: The Battle of Hastings (1066), the British acquisition of India (19th century), the reign of Napoleon (18th century), the magnificent domestic political changes in China, Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon (1969), etc. But the challenge here is in telling the story of the world in just 10 stops.
Got your own list? Please add them to the comments below!