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Local Big Histories (EN)

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How does your corner of the world fit into a global picture?

How does your corner of the world fit into a global picture? What makes its people and its culture unique, and what does it have in common with other places in the world? In this grant-winning course you will be able to find out. You will do so by connecting your local history to big history, which is a type of history that deals with the world as a whole, including all the geological, biological and cultural processes that have shaped it. And you will do so by collaborating with students from Danish, Italian and Spanish universities. This will allow you to see how different regions of the world, their peoples and their cultures have all been shaped in their own special ways by global processes. This, in turn, will allow you to reflect on the relationship between local and global identities and on what it means to be a global citizen who also needs to be able to relate to what is important on the local level.

In order to do all of this, you will first take a crash course in big history, based on videos that have been designed and recorded especially for this course, reading, and online seminars during which you will discuss the video and literature content. You will also create a short video that describes your local history. Next, in groups composed of students from different universities, you will work on connecting big history and your local history, also by interviewing experts from the involved universities. This will result in a final local big history video that will be published on a layered map that will connect all the different local big histories that will be produced during this course.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Construct an overview of big history;
  • Connect big history to the history of a place you identify with;
  • Compare your local big history to the local big histories constructed by students from Denmark, Italy and Spain;
  • Reflect on what these local big histories have in common and what makes them unique;
  • Reflect on what this means for local and global identities.


Esther Quaedackers

Teaching format

Seminars, presentation/symposium, selfstudy, work independently on project/thesis, guidance/feedback moment.


  • Seminar participation (30%)
  • Brainstorm document (20%)
  • Local big history video (50%)

Course materials

  • Literature:
    Fred Spier (2015). Big History and the Future of Humanity (2nd edition). Wiley.
  • Syllabus:
    Online syllabus that includes a variety of videos and reading


See Datanose.


See website.


UvA-students can register themselves from 9 June (look for code 5512LOBH6Y in SIS) until a week before the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering please contact:

This course is only availalbe for students.


If you have already taken a big history course are very welcome to participate in this course and do not have to complete the big history crash course this local big histories course starts with. This means you do not have to attend and prepare for the seminars from September 25 to October 16. This also means you will not receive 6 EC for this course, but 4 EC.

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in the educational offer and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDG's website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term, open uva courses
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in September