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Foundations of World History: Eras 1-3, Beginnings to 300 C.E.

These foundational expectations are included to set the stage for the study of World History and Geography in High School and to help bridge the transition from Middle School Social Studies.

F1 World Historical and Geographical “Habits of Mind” and Central Concepts

Explain and use key conceptual devices world historians/geographers use to organize the past including periodization schemes (e.g., major turning points, different cultural and religious calendars), and different spatial frames (e.g., global, interregional, and regional)(National Geography Standard 2, p. 186)

F2 Systems of Human Organizations

Use the examples listed below to explain the basic features and differences between hunter-gatherer societies, pastoral nomads, civilizations, and empires, focusing upon the differences in their political, economic and social systems, and their changing interactions with the environment. (National Geography Standard 14, p. 212)
  • Changes brought on by the Agricultural Revolution, including the environmental impact of settlements
  • TWO ancient river civilizations, such as those that formed around the Nile, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates, or Yangtze
  • Classical China or India (Han China or Gupta empires)
  • Classical Mediterranean (Greece and Rome)

F3 Growth and Development of World Religions

Explain the way that the world religions or belief systems of Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam grew, including
  • spatial representations of that growth
  • interactions with culturally diverse peoples
  • responses to the challenges offered by contact with different faiths
  • ways they influenced people’s perceptions of the world.

F4 Regional Interactions

Identify the location and causes of frontier interactions and conflicts, and internal disputes between cultural, social and/or religious groups in classical China, the Mediterranean world, and south Asia (India) prior to 300 C.E.


Era 4: Expanding and Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 300 C.E. to 1500 C.E.


4.1 Cross-temporal or Global Expectations

Analyze important hemispheric interactions and temporal developments during an era of increasing regional power, religious expansion, and the collapse of some empires.

  • 4.1.1 Crisis in the Classical World

  • Explain the responses to common forces of change that led to the ultimate collapse of classical empires and discuss the consequences of their collapse. (See 4.3.3; 4.3.4; 4.3.5)

  • 4.1.2 World Religions

  • Using historical and modern maps and other documents, analyze the continuing spread of major world religions during this era and describe encounters between religious groups including
    • Islam and Christianity (Roman Catholic and Orthodox) – increased trade and the Crusades
    • Islam and Hinduism in South Asia (See 5.3.3)
    • continuing tensions between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity

  • 4.1.3 Trade Networks and Contacts

  • Analyze the development, interdependence, specialization, and importance of interregional trading systems both within and between societies including
    • land-based routes across the Sahara, Eurasia and Europe
    • water-based routes across Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, South China Sea, Red and Mediterranean Seas


4.2 Interregional or Comparative Expectations

Analyze and compare important hemispheric interactions and cross-regional developments, including the growth and consequences of an interregional system of communication, trade, and culture exchange during an era of increasing regional power and religious expansion.

  • 4.2.1 Growth of Islam and Dar al-Islam

  • Identify and explain the origins and expansion of Islam and the creation of the Islamic Empire including
    • The founding geographic extent of Muslim empires and the artistic, scientific, technological, and economic features of Muslim society
    • diverse religious traditions of Islam — Sunni, Shi’a/Shi’ite, Sufi
    • role of Dar al-Islam as a cultural, political, and economic force in Afro-Eurasia
    • the caliphate as both a religious and political institution, and the persistance of other traditions in the Arab World including Christianity

  • 4.2.2 Unification of Eurasia under the Mongols

  • Using historical and modern maps, locate and describe the geographic patterns of Mongol conquest and expansion and describe the characteristics of the Pax Mongolica (particularly revival of long-distance trading networks between China and the Mediterranean world).

  • 4.2.3 The Plague

  • Using historical and modern maps and other evidence, explain the causes and spread of the Plague and analyze the demographic, economic, social, and political consequences of this pandemic. (See 4.3.5)


4.3 Regional Expectations

Analyze important regional developments and cultural changes, including the growth of states, towns, and trade in Africa south of the Sahara, Europe, the Americas, and China.

  • 4.3.1 Africa to 1500

  • Describe the diverse characteristics of early African societies and the significant changes in African society by
    • comparing and contrasting at least two of the major states/civilizations of East, South, and West Africa (Aksum, Swahili Coast, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Mali, Songhai) in terms of environmental, economic, religious, political, and social structures
    • using historical and modern maps to identify the Bantu migration patterns and describe their contributions to agriculture, technology and language
    • analyzing the African trading networks by examining trans-Saharan trade in gold and salt and connect these to interregional patterns of trade
    • analyzing the development of an organized slave trade within and beyond Africa
    • analyzing the influence of Islam and Christianity on African culture and the blending of traditional African beliefs with new ideas from Islam and Christianity

  • 4.3.2 The Americas to 1500

  • Describe the diverse characteristics of early American civilizations and societies in North, Central, and South America by comparing and contrasting the major aspects (government, religion, interactions with the environment, economy, and social life) of American Indian civilizations and societies such as the Maya,Aztec,Inca,Pueblo,and/or Eastern Woodland peoples.

  • 4.3.3 China to 1500

  • Explain how Chinese dynasties responded to the internal and external challenges caused by ethnic diversity, physical geography, population growth and Mongol invasion to achieve relative political stability, economic prosperity, and technological innovation.

  • 4.3.4 The Eastern European System and the Byzantine Empire to 1500

  • Analyze restructuring of the Eastern European system including
    • the rise and decline of the Byzantine Empire
    • the region’s unique spatial location
    • the region’s political, economic, and religious transformations
    • emerging tensions between East and West

  • 4.3.5 Western Europe to 1500

  • Explain the workings of feudalism, manorialism, and the growth of centralized monarchies and city-states in Europe including
    • the role and political impact of the Roman Catholic Church in European medieval society
    • how agricultural innovation and increasing trade led to the growth of towns and cities
    • the role of the Crusades, 100 Years War, and the Bubonic Plague in the early development of centralized nation-states (See 4.2.3)
    • the cultural and social impact of the Renaissance on Western and Northern Europe


Era 5: The Emergence of the First Global Age, 15th to 18th Centuries


5.1 Cross-temporal or Global Expectations

Analyze the global impact and significant developments caused by transoceanic travel and the linking of all the major areas of the world by the 18th century.

  • 5.1.1 Emerging Global System

  • Analyze the impact of increased oceanic travel including changes in the global system of trade, migration, and political power as compared to the previous era. (See 4.1.3; 5.3.6)

  • 5.1.2 World Religions

  • Use historical and modern maps to analyze major territorial transformations and movements of world religions including the expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spain, Christianity to the Americas, and Islam to Southeast Asia, and evaluate the impact of these transformations/movements on the respective human systems. (See 4.1.2)


5.2 Interregional or Comparative Expectations

Analyze the impact of oceanic travel on interregional interactions.

  • 5.2.1 European Exploration/Conquest and Columbian Exchange

  • Analyze the demographic, environmental, and political consequences of European oceanic travel and conquest and of the Columbian Exchange in the late 15th and 16th centuries by
    • describing the geographic routes used in the exchange of plants, animals, and pathogens among the continents in the late 15th and the 16th centuries
    • explaining how forced and free migrations of peoples (push/pull factors) and the exchange of plants, animals, and pathogens impacted the natural environments, political institutions, societies, and commerce of European, Asian, African, and the American societies (See 5.3.5)

  • 5.2.2 Trans-African andTrans-Atlantic Slave Systems

  • Analyze the emerging trans-Atlantic slave system and compare it to other systems of labor existing during this era by
    • using historical and modern maps and other data to analyze the causes and development of the Atlantic trade system, including economic exchanges, the diffusion of Africans in the Americas (including the Caribbean and South America), and the Middle Passage
    • comparing and contrasting the trans-Atlantic slave system with the African slave system and another system of labor existing during this era (e.g., serfdom, indentured servitude, corvee labor, wage labor) (See 5.3.5; 5.3.6) (See 4.3.1)


5.3 Regional Content Expectations

Analyze the important regional developments and cultural changes in Asia, Russia, Europe and the Americas.

  • 5.3.1 Ottoman Empire through the 18th Century

  • Analyze the major political, religious, economic, and cultural transformations in the Ottoman Empire by
    • using historical and modern maps to describe the empire’s origins (Turkic migrations), geographic expansion, and contraction
    • analyzing the impact of the Ottoman rule

  • 5.3.2 East Asia through the 18th Century

  • Analyze the major political, religious, economic, and cultural transformations in East Asia by
    • analyzing the major reasons for the continuity of Chinese society under the Ming and Qing dynasties, including the role of Confucianism, the civil service, and Chinese oceanic exploration (See 4.3.3)
    • analyzing the changes in Japanese society by describing the role of geography in the development of Japan, the policies of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and the influence of China on Japanese society

  • 5.3.3 South Asia/India through the 18th Century

  • Analyze the global economic significance of India and the role of foreign influence in the political, religious, cultural, and economic transformations in India and South Asia including the Mughal Empire and the beginnings of European contact. (See 4.1.2)

  • 5.3.4 Russia through the 18th Century

  • Analyze the major political, religious, economic, and cultural transformations in Russia including
    • Russian imperial expansion and top-down westernization/modernization
    • the impact of its unique location relative to Europe and Asia
    • the political and cultural influence (e.g., written language) of Byzantine Empire, Mongol Empire, and Orthodox Christianity

  • 5.3.5 Europe through the 18th Century

  • Analyze the major political, religious, cultural and economic transformations in Europe by
    • explaining the origins, growth, and consequences of European overseas expansion, including the development and impact of maritime power in Asia and land control in the Americas (See 5.2.1)
    • analyzing transformations in Europe’s state structure, including the rising military, bureaucratic, and nationalist power of European states including absolutism
    • analyzing how the Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment contributed to transformations in European society
    • analyzing the transformation of the European economies including mercantilism, capitalism, and wage labor (See 5.2.2)

  • 5.3.6 Latin America through the 18th Century

  • Analyze colonial transformations in Latin America, including
    • the near-elimination of American Indian civilizations and peoples
    • social stratifications of the population (e.g., peninsulares, creoles, mestizos)
    • the regional and global role of silver and sugar
    • resource extraction and the emerging system of labor (e.g., mita, slavery) (See 5.1.1, 5.2.2)