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Week 1 Discussion

The First Total War

World War I is different from most other wars in that it was not a direct result of aggression by one entity towards another, notwithstanding the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian elements. Instead, it was a consequence of a number of forces amidst a disruption of the tenuous balance of power in Europe. What were these forces and how did they contribute to the outbreak of WWI?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 2 Discussion

DQ1 The Rise of Communism and Fascism

Compare and contrast the two types of authoritarian governments that arose after 1917, that is, communism and fascism. What were the origins of these governments, their accomplishments, and their failures? What accounts for the fact that the masses mobilized to support these movements? Elaborate.

DQ2 Nationalism and the Treaty of Versailles

What were reasons that led to the ultimate failure of the Treaty of Versailles? What were the challenges facing the newly-formed League of Nations, and why was it so difficult to form a lasting agreement that would prevent another war? Elaborate.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 3 Discussion

The Rise of Fascism, World War II and the Holocaust

Analyze Adolph Hitler's rise to power and the policies he used to rule Germany. The following statement was taken from a contemporary account of Germany in 1939:

"Though the Fuhrer's anti-Semitic program furnished the National Socialist party in the first instances with a nucleus and a rallying-cry, it was swept into office by two things with which the 'Jewish Problem' did not have the slightest connection. On the one side was economic distress and the revulsion against Versailles: on the other, chicanery and intrigue…Hitler and his party promised the unhappy Germans a new heaven and a new earth, coupled with the persecution of the Jews. Unfortunately, a new heaven and earth cannot be manufactured to order. But a persecution of the Jews can…"

How do you interpret this contemporary account of the persecution of people who are Jewish? Elaborate.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 4 Discussion

The Cold War: Who Shot First?

The United States accused the Soviet Union of breaking all its wartime pledges and holding Eastern Europe hostage while trying to subvert governments in the West. The Soviet Union accused the US and its allies of trying to surround, and ultimately destroy it. War of words? Or was somebody telling the truth? And where do our 'isms' fit in? In particular nationalism?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 5 Discussion

Cold War and the End of Empires

What accounts for the rather late emergence of African countries as independent nation-states? Is there something peculiar about Africa that delayed its drive for independence? Why has the Arab-Israeli conflict been so persistent? What religious and cultural factors have contributed to the persistent state of unrest in the Middle East and, in particular, in what some people refer to as the Holy Land?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 6 Discussion

DQ1 The End of the Cold War

What impact did Mikhail Gorbachev's ideas of glasnost (openness), perestroika (restructuring) and demokratizatsiia (democratization) have on Communist society? Were these principles compatible with collectivization and a command economy? Did Communist leaders favor these principles, or did they feel that their hands were tied once they were introduced into Communist society?

DQ2 Communism vs. Capitalism

It would be easy to dismiss the Cold War simply as proof that Capitalism was a better theory than Communism. Easy, but not the whole story. In order for Communism to be relegated to the dustbin of history, it first had to be proven that its struggle against Capitalism was unnecessary and thus irrelevant. How did the US and the USSR close the gap in the last quarter of the 20th Century to allow Communism to go out with a whimper and not a bang?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 7 Discussion

Brave New World

The Cold War is over. Time to do a victory lap and celebrate the primacy of American power. But the celebration seemed short-lived, as there were plenty of other concerns. Nothing is as it should be. Our adversaries are now our allies, and our allies are now competitors. The end of the Cold War knocked down the Iron Curtain, but it also destroyed conventional economic patterns. Is the end of the Cold War proving to be good for world peace, but not so good for world business?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 8 Discussion

Looking Ahead

Read the article entitled “Strategic Collaboration: How the United States Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise.” Do you agree with the authors’ assertions that the United States needs to engage certain powers to remain safe from present-day dangers? Elaborate.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 2Quiz

Question 1(CO 3) Identify three developments of industrialization in the West in the areas of science, the economy, and the law. Describe how the legal system and the government fostered industrialization. What is the relationship between industrialization and imperialism?

Question 2 (CO5) Explain how Italy's experience with WWI and post-WWI conditions provide an environment for the rise of fascism. Identify the techniques Mussolini used to solidify his control of Italy and how these stood in contrast to the principles of liberal democracy.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 6Quiz

Question 1(CO9) Contrast the methods of the Chinese Nationalist government under Jiang and the Communists under Mao Zedong to rebuild China after war with Japan and analyze why the efforts of the former failed. Examine the efforts of the US and the USSR to create peace and stability in China and analyze why these efforts failed.

Question 2(CO4) Analyze the decline and fall of communism in the USSR. Discuss domestic conditions in the USSR and why the communist government was unable to meet the challenges posed by these conditions. Describe one of the reforms attempted by the communist government and its outcome.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 1Case Study Imperialism and Exploitation


The exploitation of colonial resources and indigenous labor was one of the key elements in the success of imperialism. Such exploitation was a result of the prevalent ethnocentrism of the time and was justified by the unscientific concept of social Darwinism, which praised the characteristics of white Europeans and inaccurately ascribed negative characteristics to indigenous peoples. A famous poem of the time by Rudyard Kipling, White Man's Burden, called on imperial powers, and particularly the U.S., which the poem was directed at, to take up the mission of civilizing these "savage" peoples.


Read the poem at the following link:

Link (website): White Man’s Burden (Rudyard Kipling) (Links to an external site.)

After reading the poem, address the following in a case study analysis:

Define social Darwinism in your own words.

Analyze the motivations and consequences that Kipling presents for undertaking the "White Man's Burden."

What specific examples of ethnocentrism can you identify?

Were the "Half-devil and half-child" peoples truly uncivilized?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 3 Case Study Mobilizing the Masses


Adolph Hitler was a charismatic figure with remarkable oratory skills that he was able to use to unify the German people under his leadership by appealing to their sense of grievance over the outcome of WWI and the resulting conditions in Germany in the intervening period as well as to their pride in their nation and its history.


Read Hitler’s speech at the following link:

Link (website): Berlin: Proclamation to the German Nation (Links to an external site.)

Address the following in a case study analysis:

What factors, both internal and external, does Hitler blame Germany's problems on?

In what ways does he appeal to the nationalism of the German people?

What actions does he suggest that portend the measures that Germany will take in the coming decade, resulting in WWII and the Holocaust?

As a German, not knowing the measures that Germany will take and suffering from the conditions Hitler describes, how would you respond to this speech?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 5 Case Study The Creation of Israel and Israeli Settlement in Palestine


The nation of Israel was officially created on November 29, 1947 as a result of UN Resolution 181 to provide a homeland for the Jewish people in a region with strong historical significance to people of Jewish faith (as well as Muslim and Christian faiths). This was accomplished by partitioning Palestine, an Arab nation, into two nations, creating animosity among the Arab peoples in the region, particularly the Palestinians, and resulting in decades of conflict between them and the nation of Israel. In the intervening years, Israel has engaged in the practice of expanding its territory into Palestine by creating Israeli settlements there. One of the recent incidents of this practice was address by Dr. HananAshrawi, Executive Committee member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.


Review the following resources:

Link (website): UN Resolution 181 (Links to an external site.)

Link (website): Statement of Dr. HananAshrawi in Regard to Jewish Settlements (Links to an external site.)

Address the following in a case study analysis:

According to UN Resolution 181, what are the rights of Arabs in Israel and what are the rights of Jews in Palestine?

Are the resulting conflicts religious, economic, territorial, or a combination of these? Support your assessment with evidence.

Is the practice of creating Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal? Assess Dr. Ashrawi's statement that "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more committed to settlement expansion than to peace."

What is the US position on this practice and how has this affected international relations?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 7 Case Study Generation Kill A Conversation With Stanley McChrystal


According to Biography.com, "Stanley A. McChrystal led the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq during the Persian Gulf Wars and was top Commander of American forces in Afghanistan" ("Stanley McChrystal Biography," n.d.). In the following interview, he describes the challenges of fighting terrorist/insurgent forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Link (library article): Generation Kill A Conversation With Stanley McChrystal (Links to an external site.)


Address the following in a case study analysis:

According to McChrystal, how did the battle against terrorist organizations/insurgencies change after 9/11 and from what factors do they draw their strength?

What technological methods are used in Afghanistan and Iraq and how have they been used tactically (i.e., what goals are they used to achieve)?

Have they been successful?

What is the risk of using technological capabilities against terrorists?

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 1 Journal Entry How I Earned an A in This Class

Learning is not like the weather; it does not "just happen" to you. You must be actively engaged in the learning process, devise strategies to maximize your learning, reflect on the strategies that worked and those that didn't, and modify these strategies moving forward. I want all of you to earn an A in this class!

For this journal entry, I would like you to envision yourself having received an A at the end of the class.

Imagine yourself looking back over the class and describe the strategies you used to earn that A in around 100 words. Here are some items to consider:

How often did you log in to class?

What time management techniques did you use?

How did you manage the reading?

How did you study for the exams?

What was your plan for completing the research papers?

Complete your Journal Entry in a Word document.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 5 Journal Entry Am I Going to Earn an A in This Class?

At the beginning of class, you wrote a journal entry describing how you earned an A in this class.

For this journal entry, you will discuss where you currently stand in the class and evaluate the success of your strategies thus far in a response of about 100 words. Here are some items to consider:

Have you been using the strategies you described in your earlier post?

Have they been successful?

What modifications do you need to make, if any, to stay or get on track to earn an A?

Complete your Journal Entry in a Word document.

HIST410 Contemporary History

Week 8 Journal Entry Advice to Incoming Students

For this assignment, provide advice to the next group of students who will be taking this course. What should incoming students be aware of regarding this class? What strategies did you use that they may find useful? What advice can you provide to help them earn an A?

There is no format or word count requirement for this assignment. I will incorporate the best two or three entries in this class next term.

Complete your assignment in a Word document.

Submit your assignment.