Contact Info

Dr. David G. Atwill
202 Weaver Building

TEL: 814-865-1218

Office Hours: By appt.



Tashi Namgyal
OFFICE: 205 Weaver Bldg

OFFICE HOURS: Wednesday 1-2 p.m.(and by appt)


Zac Clark
OFFICE: 205 Weaver Bldg
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday 1:30-2:30 p.m. (and by appt)

Required reading


A History of the World In 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
ISBN: 978-0670022700


The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai
Ha Jin
ISBN: 978-1524747411

Course Description

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This course will trace the development of world civilizations from the rise of the river valley civilizations to the age of global expansion in the 16th century. The emphasis will be on the distinctive histories and cultural values that shaped major regions and cross-cultural contacts that helped to spread world religions between the world's distinctive cultural areas. Studying how ancient and pre-modern societies adapted their environments, organized their political economies, expressed themselves in art & philosophy and interacted with other peoples different from themselves can help us attain a deeper appreciation of our own modern world and recognize significant patterns in the past.

Course Objectives

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Given that this course covers over five thousand years of history in 16 weeks, not all periods, personages and themes can be included. Instead, the course attempts to expose students to a sampling of world history from the ancient, medieval, early modern and modern periods. Students will be able to identify significant historical places, write short effective summaries of key historical events, themes, and personages, and be introduced to key historical primary sources and literature.


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There are three exams in this course each covering one-third of the course. The exams are non-cumulative (and thus there is no "final"). Exams will be composed of two parts: 1) a matching section of terms (people, places and things), 2) Photo IDs are all derived from the podcasts/textbook. The exams are all in-class.

There will be three map quizzes. A map with the place names along with a blank map for studying will be posted one week before each map quiz.

There will be a single book quiz on the The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai.

At the end of each lecture there will be a brief quiz on the material just covered during that lecture. If you have attended the lecture, listened to the material, and paid attention the quiz you should not find it difficult.

Alternate exams will only given for university approved reasons. You must contact me prior to any excusable absence (medical, sport-related, etc.).

Study guides for each of the above map and mid-term quizzes will be provided.


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Adjustments to grades on exams are made only on the basis of demonstrable, objective or mathematical errors. In accordance with university policies, grades may not be raised by means of “extra-credit” work. Anyone found cheating on an exam will receive a grade of “F” for that exam.

The breakdown of the points for this course are as follows:
300 pts - Mid-term Exams (3 exams x 100 pts per exam)
250 pts - Daily Quizzes (25 quizzes x 10 pts)
150 pts - Map quizzes (3 quizzes x 50 pts per quiz)
150 pts - Book Quiz (1 quiz x 150 pts)
150 pts - Participation (3 x 50 pts)

Final grades will be based according to the following breakdown:

A   = 1000 - 930 pts
A-  =  929 - 900 pts

B+ = 899 - 870 pts
B   = 869 - 830 pts
B-  = 829 - 800 pts

C+ = 799 - 770 pts
C   = 769 - 700 pts

D   = 699 - 600 pts
F    = 599 - 0 pts


The teaching assistants for HIST10: World Civilizations to 1500 (Spring 2021) are Tashi Namgyel and Zac Clark. Both are graduate students in the department of history specializing in Asian history. They will assist me in facilitating classroom activities and grading.

example graphicTashi Namgyal:
Office Hours: Monday: 3-4 p.m.  (and by appointment)
Office: 205 Weaver Building

example graphicZac Clark:
Office Hours: Monday: 3-4 p.m. (and by appointment)
Office: 205 Weaver Building

Make-ups, Incompletes & Missed assignments

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Incompletes are only given in instances of extraordinary circumstances (health, disability, or bereavement) which prevent the completion of the course — not for low grades or missed exams. In addition, a student must have successfully completed 75% of the course.

Adjustments to grades on exams are made only on the basis of demonstrable objective or mathematical errors. In accordance with university policies, grades may not be raised by means of “extra-credit” work. Anyone found cheating on an exam will receive a grade of “F” for that exam.

Required readings:

There is one book required for this course: The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai. The "textbook" is Neil MacGregor's A History of the World in 100 Objects which has short chapters on specific objects. You should only buy the book if you prefer having the actual book. The same content is available via the links accompanying each lecture, or if you prefer, listen to the podcast (links also provided on the leture page). The content in the book, online links, and podcast are virtually identical the choice is your:

TITLE: History of the World in 100 Objects
AUTHOR: Neil MacGregor
ISBN: 0670022705

LINKS: Podcast|Summaries|Objects

TITLE: The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai
ISBN: 978-1524747411

WARNING: Every year several students are "suprised" to learn that by the end of February the bookstore has returned the books for spring semester. This is not a valid excuse for not having the book.

OFFICE HOURS & contact:

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I check my e-mail regularly (compulsively?) and thus is the best way to get in touch with me. I am also available for consultation with students during regular office hours in 202 Weaver. If necessary, appointments to meet at another time can be arranged at our mutual convenience.

Academic Honesty

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"Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.

Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.” (SOURCE: Penn State's University Faculty Senate Policy 49-20)

Mask Wearing

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As of August 4, 2021, Penn State University requires everyone to wear a face mask in all university buildings, including classrooms, regardless of vaccination status. ALL STUDENTS MUST wear a mask appropriately (i.e., covering both your mouth and nose) while you are indoors on campus. This is to protect your health and safety as well as the health and safety of your classmates, instructor, and the university community. Anyone attending class without a mask will be asked to put one on or leave. Instructors may end class if anyone present refuses to appropriately wear a mask for the duration of class. Students who refuse to wear masks appropriately may face disciplinary action for Code of Conduct violations. If you feel you cannot wear a mask during class, please speak with your adviser immediately about your options for altering your schedule.

Disability Access

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Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

counseling services

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Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741