This is a brief overview of the field of big history and my personal reflection on its significance. Like others, I developed a macro-perspective of existence from the 1950s onward, as a natural way of thinking, without label or rubric. It was only in 2003 that I heard of big history and realized this concept expressed much of what I had been doing.
This realization mirrored the experience of many others around the world in the second-half of the 20th century—interdisciplinary and macro-historical studies had emerged independently around the planet in a global conjuncture. It was a general human expression, representing an impulse of humanity.
For my part, I had engaged in ethnographic studies in various locations, with a focus on human adaptation. I therefore saw cosmic evolution, big history, and universal studies as a component of humanity’s survival strategy—a concept especially understood by our post-Soviet and Asian colleagues. As a result, my focus in this two-part article is on how macro-historical studies relate to the theme of human survival in this modern era of climate crisis.
Others will have a different focus and have been effected by different concepts and authors. Their views are just as valid, and I encourage them to share them. Big history is a house with many rooms.
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