America at War: World Wars I and II

Understanding the 20th century and preparing for the 21st makes understanding the whys and wherefores of the two world wars essential to any education. We are 'who' and 'where' we are today owing in great measure to the effects and consequences of the two world wars which shaped our alliances, set our ideologies, determined our global positioning, and established the global resource acquisition capabilities for all countries and all markets. The two world wars defined for the next hundred or more years who would be rich and who would be poor, who would have power and who would have none. They established peace in out time and lay the groundwork for the world's next great conflagration, a third global war many believe has already started.

This World Wars Workshop is not a detailed recitation of facts. It is an attempt to make connections between cause and effect, between states of being, actions, contests, hostilities, peace and the consequences of just and unjust arbitrations and settlements. Some questions will be framed on a macro scale, asking about the nature and consequences of Nationalism, Colonialism, Regionalism, Zionism, Pan Arab Loyalty, Communism, Democracy, Totalitarianism, Capitalism, Socialism, Imperialism, and Technology.

Other questions will focus on more local issues that pertain to specific peoples, nations and geography. This is a difficult lesson in world history that attempts to convey how nations successfully interact on the one hand and what conditions bring them to a state of war on the other. We will ask how each of the wars could have been prevented, if they were inevitable or even necessary. We will debate whether the second world war was a good or bad event and explore its many sides. Did the use of the 'Bomb' save humanity for the next sixty or more years?

We will ask our students to picture the world in six stages. We will draw on imaging and perspectives from the actual times to establish our own hind-sight notion of what life was like before the first war. How the world lived and perceived itself during the years from 1914 through 1921 will be the second focus. The years of the global depression and the growth of the axis powers marks the third phase. From the outbreak of WWII in 1937 in Asia and 1939 in Europe to the end of the occupations of Europe and Japan is the fourth stage. The ensuing decades of the Cold War, inclusive of Korea, Suez, Israel, Vietnam, Kosovo, and Iraq I marks stage five. The post 911 world is the last stage. From these models we hope to make the students aware of how the world got to where it is today and how to analyze and possibly predict trends in their immediate future.

This is a work in progress to be completed in the academic year of 2008-2009.

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