HIST 387: Topics in Global History

HIST 387-DL1: China and the Silk Road, Then and Now
(Spring 2020)


Section Information for Spring 2020

The ancient “Silk Roads” that connected China with Europe (130 BCE-1453 CE) also included trade routes through Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Silk and other goods, arts, religion, cultures, ideas and technology were transferred on these routes and later on interconnected water routes during the Age of Discovery (1453-1660 CE).  In the 21st century, the Silk Road is the basis for new global trade routes, tourism, and cultural exchange and even the growth of new cities.    

Students will be asked to read chapters in the textbook, scholarly articles and primary documents as the basis for weekly class discussions about various aspects of the ancient Silk Roads.  For the final third of the semester, we will explore the current “One Belt, One Road” initiative of the Chinese government that is based on the idea of the ancient silk routes, and its implications for trade between Asia, Africa, and Europe today.  This will have particular consequences, both positive and negative, for relations between the China, India, Africa, Europe and the United States.  In examining current news articles and announcements, students will be asked to also assess bias and propaganda versus the actual benefits or disadvantages to the various countries involved in the new trade routes. 

Finally, we will discuss the similarities or differences between the ancient routes and the new initiatives.  For example, what are the consequences of each for regional and global economies?  How are politics involved in today’s initiatives, and can they be compared to the ancient cultures?  Will China be able to use the “silk routes” today as a way to build global power in the same way as in ancient times?

HIST 387 DL1 is a distance education section.

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3-6

Study of historical topics or periods of special interest in global, Latin American, African, Asian, or Middle Eastern history. Notes: Topics announced in advance. May be repeated for credit when topic is different. May be repeated within the term.
Mason Core: Global Understanding
Specialized Designation: Non-Western Culture
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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