The Trajectory of Human History


David Christian


Is it possible to identify a clear shape or trajectory to human history as a whole and what significance or meaning could we attach to such a trajectory? The argument here is that modern historical research within many different disciplines does indeed allow us to identify some striking shapes to the history of our species. It includes that those shapes are full of meaning for understanding the nature and significance of our strange species. Finally, it ends with some speculative ideas about how human history may evolve in the distant future in an attempt to see if we can perhaps glimpse what human history will look like when the human story has ended.


Author Biography

David Christian, Macquarie University Sydney, Australia

David Christian began his career as a historian and scholar of Russian history; since then he has been one of the founders of the emerging discipline of Big History. In 1989 he began teaching the first course on the topic, examining history from the Big Bang to the present using a multidisciplinary approach with the assistance of scholars in diverse specializations from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. He served as founding president of the International Big History Association. His best-selling Teaching Company course entitled Big History caught the attention of philanthropist Bill Gates, who is funding Christian’s efforts to develop a program to bring the course to secondary-school students worldwide. He retired in 2021 and is now an Emeritus Professor of Macquarie University. His publications include: Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, 2005; Big History: Between Nothing and Everything, 2014; Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, 2018; and Future Stories: What’s Next, 2022.