The Routledge Companion to Big History guides readers though the variety of themes and concepts that structure contemporary scholarship in the field of big history.
The volume is divided into five parts, each representing current and evolving areas of interest to the community, including big history’s relationship to science, social science, the humanities, and the future, as well as teaching big history and ‘little big histories’. Considering an ever-expanding range of theoretical, pedagogical and research topics, the book addresses such questions as what is the relationship between big history and scientific research, how are big historians working with philosophers and religious thinkers to help construct ‘meaning’, how are leading theoreticians making sense of big history and its relationship to other creation narratives and paradigms, what is ‘little big history’, and how does big history impact on thinking about the future? The book highlights the place of big history in historiographical traditions and the ways in which it can be used in education and public discourse across disciplines and at all levels.
A timely collection with contributions from leading proponents in the field, it is the ideal guide for those wanting to engage with the theories and concepts behind big history.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Contributors
Introduction to the Routledge Companion to Big History
Craig Benjamin, Esther Quaedackers, David Baker
1 What is Big History
Part 1: Big History and Science
2 Big History and the Study of Time - Underlying Temporalities of Big History
3 Big History and Astronomy - The Fermi Paradox
4 Big History and Macro Evolution
Andrey Korotayev, Leonid Grinin, Alexander Markov
Part 2: Big History, Social Science and the Humanities
5 Big History and Anthropology
6 Big History and Archaeology
7 Big History and Philosophy
8 Big History and Political Science
9 Big History and Historiography
10 Big History and Critical Theory
11 Big History, Morality and Religion
Cynthia Stokes Brown
Part 3: Little Big Histories
12 A Case for Little Big Histories
13 The Little Big History of the Nalon River, Asturias, Spain
Olga García-Moreno, Diego Álvarez-Laó , Miguel Arbizu, Eduardo Dopico, Eva García-Vázquez, Joaquín García Sansegundo, Montserrat Jiménez-Sánchez, Laura Miralles, Ícaro Obeso, Ángel Rodríguez-Rey, Marco de la Rasilla Vives, Luis Vicente Sánchez Fernández, Luis Rodríguez Terente, Luigi Toffolatti, Pablo Turrero
14 Sketch of a Little Big History of Private E.E. Benjamin and the Great War
Part 4: Teaching Big History
15 The Big History Project in Australia
16 Big History Teaching in Korea
17 Crossing Thresholds: Using Big History to Meet Challenges in Teaching and Learning in the United States
Robert B. Bain
Part 5: Big History and the Future
18 Big History and the Future of Technology
Leonid and Anton Grinin
19 Big History and the Singularity
20 Underground Metro Systems: A durable geological proxy of rapid urban population growth and energy consumption during the Anthropocene
Mark Williams, Matt Edgeworth, Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N. Waters, Will Steffen, Alexander P. Wolfe, Nicholas J. Minter, Alejandro Cearreta, Agnieszka Galuszka, Peter Haff, John McNeill, Andrew Revkin, Daniel deB. Richter, Simon Price, Colin Summerhayes
21 The Coming Energy Transition - What comes after fossil-fueled civilization?
Craig Benjamin is a Professor of History at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, USA, where he researches and teaches big history and ancient Eurasian history. Recent books include Big History: Between Nothing and Everything (co-authored with David Christian and Cynthia Stokes Brown, 2014); and Empires of Ancient Eurasia. The First Silk Roads Era 100 BCE – 250 CE (2018).
Esther Quaedackers is a Lecturer in Big History at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she has been developing, coordinating, and teaching big history courses for over a decade. She is the inventor of the ‘little big history’ approach, which is a research and teaching method in which small subjects are connected to aspects of big history in order to generate creative new ideas about how these subjects came to be the way they are.
David Baker is Lecturer of Big History at Macquarie University, Australia, and is the first scholar worldwide to achieve a PhD in that field. He is co-designer of Big History School (three K–12 curricula), Big History: Connecting Knowledge on Coursera, and contributor to the Big History Project. He was scriptwriter for two seasons of Crash Course: Big History with over 12 million views on Youtube. He has produced numerous research articles, chapters, and edited volumes, including works in the Journal of World History and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Big history is the most innovative and intellectually daring kind of historical scholarship on offer. It is the historical genre that can be used to appraise the biggest challenges that we face as a species, such as our burgeoning numbers, our relationships with other species, and the way we have so far engaged with the natural environment. This volume showcases the remarkable potential of the field. It is especially useful because it brings together Big History’s leading figures, as well as important fellow travellers in the social and natural sciences. And all of them bring to this volume their ‘best game’.
Nick Doumanis, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Big History is a rapidly evolving research and teaching field that seeks to unite natural and human history into a single compelling narrative. To capture the current state of this scholarship, the editors of The Routledge Companion to Big History have assembled and thematically organized twenty-one chapters, each authored by a leading proponent. For the reader interested in, or simply curious about, big history, this volume is the perfect entrée.
Kevin Jon Fernlund, University of Missouri – St. Louis, USA