Big History Project

The Big History Project was started by Bill Gates and David Christian to enable the global teaching of Big History. Big History “is the attempt to understand, in a unified way, the history of Cosmos, Earth, Life and Humanity.” It is a course that covers history from the big bang through to the present in an interdisciplinary way. The Big History Project “is dedicated to fostering a greater love and capacity for learning among high school students”


Gates became interested in big history when he heard a series of 48 lectures by Christian published by The Teaching Company under the name “Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity”. For Gates, “he really blew me away. Here’s a guy who’s read across the sciences, humanities, and social sciences and brought it together in a single framework. It made me wish that I could have taken big history when I was young, because it would have given me a way to think about all of the school work and reading that followed. In particular, it really put the sciences in an interesting historical context and explained how they apply to a lot of contemporary concerns”.

After Gates and Christian met to discuss the lectures, the genesis of the Big History Project occurred. They founded the project, and developed a team to achieve their stated goal, “to get big history taught to as many students around the world as possible”.


18 thoughts on “Big History Project

  1. “…as many students as possible.”

    Well, we already know a swath of American students who will never view this in their classrooms. Homeschooled, Christian children as well as those in fundamentalist Christian schools. Evolution, you know!

    Then there will be tens of millions of other public school children who will also miss this in their classrooms because it is not tied to a specific learning outcome. You know: proficiency exams.

    The so-called ‘difficulty’ facing teachers is that the approach of this project is inner disciplinary whereas many junior high and high school teachers are often single-subject teachers. Of course, that’s the way it has been ever since this school model was initiated some 300 years ago. Good thing nothing has changed in the world outside of the classroom doors, eh

    I’m wondering if my friend from MS has a comment on this? Professor, how do you see a program like this fitting into a university setting?

  2. Much of the anti-Common Core group talks about the Gates Foundation like we talk about the Koch brothers.

    I’ve got a question…..Public school teachers today usually have, at the very least, a Masters’ degree in education. How do the home schoolers pass qualifications since I suspect most of them are lucky if they graduated high school? Are home schooled children required to pass some sort of testing determined by the local school district? And when did the Bible become a science book?

  3. The Bible-as-science text resides in the minds of the fundies and there alone. Re the qualifications, I don’t know. Of course, they aren’t qualified but I don’t know how the state regards them.maybe their kids need only to pass the OGT.

    1. I was only a few years behind you in school, but I was always taught that because of free public education the United States was able to excel ahead of countries that didn’t offer free public education to the masses.

      1. SIDE NOTE: Plate tectonics is still the biggest scientific discovery in our lifetimes, but I bet the home schoolers are still wrestling with understanding it.

      1. Public school educated here and had to look that one up:

        agrarian society (noun)
        a culture or community in which agriculture is the primary means of subsistence; an economy that relies heavily on agricultural production

        (But at least I knew how to look it up :-) .)

    1. OMG! Think back about what the popular beliefs about the planets were as late as the 1960’s. Pluto was still a planet and the Milky Was was all there was in space.

  4. Speaking about “the chuckle of the day”: Obama’s speech the other night
    bordered on absurdity. And, his “strategy” is just plain stupid.

    1. That is the one really strong concern I have with Obama, his total inexperience in foreign affairs. That why I switched from Clinton to McCain in 2008. At the time, I didn’t know anything about Palin.

Comments are closed.