Prof Christian’s interest in Big History began when he was teaching Russian history during the Cold War and he became aware that teaching national history in a world where dangers do not respect geopolitical borders is counter-productive. He felt that instead of national history, human history on the planetary scale is far more important to arm future generations with the knowledge necessary to face whatever the future may hold.
Prof Christian tells of his decision to invite other professors from other disciplines to his classroom, to help build a collective history of the universe. This approach had caught the attention of Bill Gates, who once he was aware of Prof Christian’s effort, helped to expand it into the Big History Project (BHP). The BHP offers concise information on 13.8 billion years of history online for free and has been taught to middle- and high-school students at over 2,000 schools in the United States alone.
In 2011, Prof Christian gave a remarkable TED talk entitled The History of Our World in 18 Minutes, which has been watched over 8 million times. This success indicates that there is indeed a high interest in a clear and accessible narrative of the origin of the universe, especially given rising uncertainty regarding the future of Planet Earth.
David Christian hails from New York, but grew up in Nigeria, Africa and the United Kingdom. He was educated in the UK and Canada, earning a BA from Oxford University, a Master’s degree in Russian history from the University of Western Ontario, Canada and a DPhil in 19th century Russian history from Oxford University. Before becoming a Professor of Modern History at the Big History Institute at Macquarie University in Sydney, which he co-founded, he taught at San Diego State University and Ewha University in Seoul. Since the 1990s, his research focus has been Big History and he has authored numerous books and articles for which he was awarded the World History Association Bentley book Prize in 2005. His most recent book entitled Origin Story: A Big History of Everything was published in 2018.
Members, guests and others are most welcome to attend this talk, which is HK$150 for Members and HK$200 for guests and others including a glass of red or white wine. This event is free of charge for Student Members.
The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong wishes to express its thanks to Jacada Travel for its generous assistance with this talk.