Humans are remarkable: the first species in almost four billion years of life on earth that dominates the biosphere. This gives us the power, in principle, to build societies in which everyone flourishes. But it also creates great dangers because it is not clear that we really understand how to use our potentially devastating powers.
I believe human beings mark a threshold in the development of the planet, of course, but it is only part of the picture. What Big History can do is show us the nature of our complexity and fragility and the dangers that face us, but it can also show us our power, with collective learning.
Our goal is to see Big History become a normal part of high school curricula. I’d love to see it being taught in lots of languages. A global course.
What we normally define as history doesn’t interest me. It’s a constraint.
Living organisms are created by chemistry. We are huge packages of chemicals.
Unfortunately, historians have become so absorbed in detailed research that they have tended to neglect the job of building larger-scale maps of the past.
Big History studies the history of everything, offering a way of making sense of our world and our role within it.
Modern scientific knowledge appeared piecemeal. Historians wrote about human history; physicists tackled the material world; and biologists studied the world of living organisms. But there were few links between these disciplines, as researchers focused on getting the details right.
I had this feeling that, somehow, we ought to be teaching not just the history of particular nations or particular regions, but the history of humanity.