David Christian explains what big history is and how it helps to make sense of the world we live in and to see all that we have in common, and talks about his 2002 meeting with interviewer Karen Christensen at the home of William H. McNeill (1917-2016). They discuss the development of national histories and how big history, by contrast, offers the “mountain top” view that is essential today. Christian is a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, co-founder, with Bill Gates, of the Big History Project, and the author of This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity (Berkshire 2007) as well as many other books. He was an editor of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History and a contributor to the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability.
David Christian is a professor of world history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and co-founder, with Bill Gates, of the Big History Project. In 1989, Christian began teaching the first course on “big history,” an interdisciplinary field that examines history starting with the Big Bang, and his work came to the attention of Bill Gates through a video course produced by The Teaching Company. He is the author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, which won the World History Association book prize (2004), and is writing a history of Central Asia. He is also the author of Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation and (with R. E. F. Smith) Bread and Salt: A Social and Economic History of Food and Drink in Russia. He has spoken about big history at the TED Conference, the World Economic Forum, and on the Comedy Central program The Colbert Report.
Karen Christensen is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Berkshire Publishing Group and a writer specializing in sustainability and community with a focus on China. One of her current projects is with George R. Goethals and Crystal L. Hoyt of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond. They are coediting Women and Leadership: History, Concepts, and Case Studies (A Berkshire Essential), and Christensen has ensured that there coverage of China and other parts of the world, including articles on Wu Zetian and Cixi drawn from the Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography.