Welcome to the Historpedia web site. It is a production of students enrolled my Global History and Culture course at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Much like Wikipedia, Historpedia is a source for scholarship contributed by others. Each student in the class selected a history topic of personal importance and created an entry that explored it in more detail. Students were encouraged to use online resources for completion of the entry along with traditional print sources. While these entries did not follow the exact format of Wikipedia, the intent was the same. The entries were designed for reading by average citizens, not academics.
History is more than people, places, and events. A common approach to history a few decades ago was to focus heavily on the importance of politics and the role of significant individuals as the catalysts for change. While both are important forces, history unfolds through a more complex process. In the Global History and Culture course. the instructor and students explord the impact of nine history forces at work within the world during our past, present, and influencing the future. Understanding these forces makes sense of the past and today. It even helps to anticipate tomorrow’s events.
The Historpedia entries are organized by the dominant history forces that influenced them. Individual people, events, and movements are propelled by forces larger than them. While historians have different lists of these history forces, the following are the most common forces that serve as a catalyst for change. Often the same person or event may have history forces that encourage or inhibit change. This helps explain the complex and often contradictory nature of historical events.
Click on one of the history forces listed below or in the left-hand column. A new web page will appear containing web links to Historpedia entries most influenced by that history force. The students may also identify other history forces that had a secondary influence as well.
1. Politics and government. The organized systems that are used to rule a people impact not only their own people, but also of other peoples. This factor also includes wars which result from political decisions by the nation's leaders.
2. Economics. The means of generating, spending, and distributing wealth and capital within a society is a powerful influence on many other history factors. Economics can be a powerful influence on political forces or decisions made about the environment. The struggle for economic power sometimes influences other history forces such as motivating wars of aggression upon other nations.
3. Arts and new ideas. Art, drama, literature, and new ideas are influencers upon society as well as they reflect the changes that are occurring within the society. Sometimes new ideas quickly lead to action within society. Sometimes it takes a generation or two before the new ideas gather a popular following to influence other history forces.
4. Personal and Group identities. Changes in gender roles, class relationships/conflicts, and family relationships often impact history. This history force is often subject to the influence by other history forces such as economics (poverty), politics (discrimination), and religion (stratified roles for family members).
5. Religion and philosophy. Spirituality and philosophical ideas are powerful forces that motivate individuals and groups within a society to take inward and outward actions. These ideas may be used by political or economic leaders to influence others in society.
6. Role of specific individuals. The force of a particular individual can make a difference, positive or negative, in world history such as Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, Mao, Roosevelt, Hitler, and Stalin.
7. Science and technology. This history force provides new and faster ways of accomplishing objectives by people. The introduction of new technology can have a powerful impact on economics (electricity replaces water wheels to power manufacturing plants) or politics (atomic energy can be used to create atomic bombs used by politicians).
8. Earth and environment. Geography and the natural environment have an impact upon nations and individuals. England developed uniquely during to being separated by the English Channel from other countries in Europe. Humans have an impact upon the environment and in turn, are impacted by it (pollution, quality of life).
9. Interaction and exchange. Sometimes change occurs slowly in countries by immigration of people from other countries and nationalities. Sometimes change happens quickly through the introduction of new cultural and technological exchange from other countries through mass media and the Internet.
Understanding the process and direction of change is more complex than identifying impact of each of these nine individual forces. Change can be more swift and powerful if several of the history forces flow together (religion and economics can promote dramatic political changes). Great chaos can occur if multiple history forces are in direct or indirect conflict with one another (competing economic or religious interests can lead to war and conflict among nations and people). History can be perceived as a river with currents that may be flowing together or in conflict with one another. Understanding the complexity of the forces at work within history helps to analyze past events, understand current affairs, and anticipate the near future.