The key to BIG learning is BIG questions.
What is Big History?
Big History is a universal and trans-disciplinary narrative that examines the timeline of our Universe on the largest possible scale. Coined by historian David Christian, the term “Big History” means “a modern, scientific creation story…based on the best findings of modern science…a history that includes all human societies, and places their histories within the larger histories of the earth and the Universe as a whole” (Christian, Brown, Benjamin 2010). Big History begins with the Big Bang, the creation of stars and planets, the emergence of life on Earth, and extends to human beings and societies that have existed up to the present. This is by nature a multi-disciplinary study, employing astronomy, anthropology, biology, ecology, geology, literature, economics, political science, and sociology, among other fields, in its approach to understanding our collective past and possible futures. While Big History is taught in higher education at universities around the world, Dominican University of California is the only institution that has utilized this content for a one-year course sequence.
What is First Year Experience “Big History”?
First Year Experience “Big History” is not just a course; it is an expedition. In fact, it is a unique curricular and experiential expansion of the original Big History course as taught at other institutions globally. In this unique one-year course sequence, we become observers of our early solar system, researchers of evolutionary theory, analysts of fossil evidence from the past, examiners of human behavior and societal structures, and agents for the health of planet Earth and its inhabitants. A diverse and dynamic team of faculty developers and instructors ensures students benefit from cutting-edge work by experts in a variety of fields. Therefore, whatever a student’s major or interest, our version of Big History enhances in-depth education and offers a universal context for future learning and career ambitions.
First Year Experience “Big History” is committed to engaged and experiential learning practices, so participants can make the most out of their college years. Co- and extra-curricular activities, such as the Stargazing Event, enhance classroom learning. Students study the planet Jupiter, its geography, and unique climate; then, they attend the Stargazing Event to witness the planet rise with its four glowing moons. Students study the evolution of hominids, their habitats, and societal systems; then, they examine a model skull of Australopithecus afarensis in our Hominoid Skull Lab to look her in the eye socket. In addition, First Year Experience “Big History” incorporates lectures by renowned scientists and celebrated philosophers throughout the semesters to complement students’ in-class studies.
The essence of First Year Experience “Big History” is living content, designed to give students the relevant, applicable information they need to be informed and productive global citizens. To this end, our program equips students with the research, writing, and communication skills required for college and beyond. Please visit our Program Goals page for more information on this topic.