When you dive into our collection of 700 Free Online Courses, you can begin an intellectual journey that can last for many months, if not years. The collection lets you drop into the classroom of leading universities (like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Oxford) and essentially audit their courses for free. You get to be a fly on the wall and soak up whatever knowledge you want. All you need is an internet connection and some free time on your hands.
Today, we’re featuring two classes taught by Professor Richard Bulliet at Columbia University, which will teach you the history of the world in 46 lectures. The first course, History of the World to 1500 CE (available on YouTube and iTunes Video) takes you from prehistoric times to 1500, the cusp of early modernity. The origins of agriculture; the Greek, Roman and Persian empires; the rise of Islam and Christian medieval kingdoms; transformations in Asia; and the Maritime revolution — they’re all covered here. In the second course, History of the World Since 1500 CE (find on YouTube), Bulliet focuses on the rise of colonialism in the Americas and India; historical developments in China, Japan and Korea; the Industrial Revolution; the Ottoman Empire; the emergence of Social Darwinism; and various key moments in 20th century history.
Bulliet helped write the popular textbook The Earth and its Peoples: A Global History, and it serves as the main textbook for the course. Above, we’re starting you off with Lecture 2, which moves from the Origins of Agriculture to the First River – Valley Civilizations, circa 8000-1500 B.C.E. The first lecture deals with methodological issues that underpin the course.