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Online Textbook for History 1112

After the dust of two world wars settled, the global map began to be redrawn and communism emerged as a powerful new political system outside of the Soviet Union. This lesson focuses on the gradual but inevitable decline of the old colonial systems of land and resource ownership and how new nations emerged from the broken pieces. The discussion includes materials about peoples in both the former imperial states and the newly freed colonial states, and how the relatively sudden changes of politics, including the events of the Cold War, impacted peoples' lives and cultures. 
Moreover, since this is the final lesson of the course, one intent of this lesson is to describe the collapse of communism and how "western civilization" has become both more unified and global while still maintaining national sentiment and political autonomy. This is the "capstone" lesson of the course, which will attempt to tie up loose ends and reflect on the past, present, and future of our world. The time period covered is thus a bit more flexible, but essentially is from the end of the Cold War (1989) to the present.
Online Readings
Crash Course Videos & Quizzes*

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Explain the political tensions in the post-war period between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and how this affected European politics.
  • Describe the rebuilding of post-war Europe, and its effect on the economy and people’s lives, particularly in countries which became communist and under sway of the Soviet Union.
  • Offer perspectives on the formation of the United Nations, NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and the European Community, a precursor to the European Union.
  • Detail events in China and other parts of Asia after World War II, which influenced the Cold War in Europe and the United States.
  • Describe how many former colonies gained independence in the two decades following World War II, and how these new states dealt with issues such as politics, ethnic and religious wars, education, and poverty.
  • Explain the decline of Soviet power, the reunification of Germany, and the eventual collapse of communism in eastern Europe, along with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the founding of the Russian Confederation.
  • Examine the realignment of borders and the founding of the state of Israel in the Middle East, describe the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in response, and discuss the continued wars in the Middle East and their effect on Europe and the United States.
  • Examine the “Troubles” in Ireland and how a peace accord eventually was effective.
  • Describe the ethnic and religious tensions in the Balkan states.
  • Detail the founding of the European Union and the effects it has had upon the global economy.
  • Analyze the vast leaps in technology during the late 20th and early 21st century and how these emerging technologies have affected humankind in a global sense.
  • Propose your own speculations about the next major struggles and achievements of global civilization, incorporating perspectives from world systems analysis.

Terms to Know

  • Abdel Nasser
  • African National Congress (ANC)
  • al-Qaida
  • Andropov
  • Anwar Sadat
  • Ayatollah Khomeini
  • Balkan Wars (post-World War II)
  • Bandung Conference of 1955
  • Boris Yeltsin
  • Bosnia/Bosnians
  • Chernenko
  • Chiang Kai-Shek (Jiang Jieshi)
  • Cold War
  • Corazon Aquino
  • Core nations
  • Croatia/Croatians
  • Deng Xiaoping
  • Détente
  • Easter Rising of 1916
  • European Union
  • External nations
  • Feminization of poverty
  • Ferdinand Marcos
  • Fidel Castro
  • First world nations
  • Gaza Strip
  • glasnost
  • Good Friday Peace Accords
  • Gorbachev
  • Green Revolution
  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Immanuel Wallerstein
  • Indira Gandhi
  • IRA
  • Jared Diamond
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Kwame Nkrumah
  • Leonid Brezhnev
  • Macedonia
  • Mao Tse-Tung
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Marshall Plan
  • Montenegro
  • Multinational corporation
  • NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
  • National Liberation Front (FLN)
  • NATO
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Neocolonialism
  • New World Order
  • Nicolae Ceausescu
  • Nikita Khrushchev
  • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
  • Osama bin Laden
  • Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
  • perestroika
  • Periphery nations
  • Potsdam Conference
  • Rajiv Gandhi
  • Second world nations
  • Sein Fein
  • Semi-periphery nations
  • Serbs/Serbia
  • Shantytowns
  • Silent Spring/Rachel Carson
  • Six Day War (1967)
  • Slobodan Miloševic
  • Soviet Union (USSR)
  • Srebrenica
  • Stalin
  • Terrorism
  • The "Troubles" (Ireland)
  • Third world nations
  • Tito
  • Truman Doctrine
  • Ulster Volunteer Force
  • United Nations
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • West Bank
  • World systems analysis
  • WTO (World Trade Organization)
  • Yalta Conference
  • Yitzhak Rabin
  • Yugoslavia

Thought Questions 

  1. Describe the root causes and consequence of the Cold War as it manifested in Europe and Asia, from 1945 to 1990. Be sure to identify ideological reasons for the war as well as specific military actions in your answer.
  2. Discuss Gorbachev's reforms in the USSR. How did he move the Soviet Union from communism to a more western style economy? Was he successful? Why or why not?
  3. Outline the rise of communism in China, including the civil war between communists and nationalists. Consider the various cultural and political changes in China after the communist takeover in your answer.
  4. Describe the Arab-Israeli conflicts in the Middle East, including the history of tensions in the region and the changes taking place due to the power of OPEC.
  5. Explain the successes and failures of democratic-style governments in post-colonial Africa. Which nations have been models of success, and why?
  6. Describe and give examples of Wallerstein's world system analysis. How does it differ from the more traditional world model?
  7. Trace the history of the "Troubles" in Ireland and Northern Ireland? How has a seemingly permanent peace accord been reached?
  8. Detail the most recent political, cultural, and military conflict in the former nation of Yugoslavia. How have ethnic tensions escalated violence in this region?
  9. Chronicle the founding of the EU (European Union) and describe its goals, key member states, and actions since its founding.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe the various tensions of the Cold War discussed in the Power Point (it's discussed throughout the document, not just at the beginning). In your answer, address the Cold War on a global scale. How was it also a "world war" in some fashion? Was the Cold War a conflict of imperialism? (Consider your study of imperialism during the earlier part of this course in composing your answer). Why or why not?
  2. What were Mandela's hopes and dreams for the African National Congress as presented in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech? Was he able to achieve them in his lifetime? Explain your answer with examples.
  3. Explain Sun Yat-Sen's vision for a nationalized China in Fundamentals of National Reconstruction. Do you think his vision for uniting China would have been successful if communism had not had a champion in Mao Zedong (see his writings also)? In your historical opinion, which man had the better vision for China? Why?
  4. Believe it or not, here you are. You've covered many world events since 1648. You've seen the western world of Europe become truly global in nature. Read back over your PowerPoints. Then, pick FIVE events (1648 to the present) that you believe most contributed to globalization. List each event. Then, after each event, explain whether you think that event was positive or negative. I'd like to see a mix of both. You should plan to write 3-5 sentences per item. Writing in first person is fine. Be sure to include examples and be as descriptive as you can.

Further Explorations

The following websites may be useful to you in finding terms, studying for exams, and expanding your knowledge of this lesson's content.

NOTE: From time to time, these web pages may "disappear." Please send an email to if you find broken links, so they may be replaced.