Contents of National Standards in World History for Grades 5-12

Era 1
The Beginnings of Human Society
Standard 1: The biological and cultural processes that gave rise to the earliest human communities

Standard 2: The processes that led to the emergence of agricultural societies around the world

Era 2
Early Civilizations and the Emergence of Pastoral Peoples, 4000-1000 BCE
Standard 1: The major characteristics of civilization and how civilizations emerged in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus valley

Standard 2: How agrarian societies spread and new states emerged in the third and second millennia BCE

Standard 3: The political, social, and cultural consequences of population movements and militarization in Eurasia in the second millennium BCE

Standard 4: Major trends in Eurasia and Africa from 4000-1000 BCE

Era 3
Classical Traditions, Major
Religions, and Giant Empires,
1000 BCE-300 CE
Standard 1: Innovation and change from 1000-600 BCE horses, ships, iron, and monotheistic faith

Standard 2: The emergence of Aegean civilization and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, 600-200 BCE

Standard 3: How major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India, 500 BCE-300 CE

Standard 4: The development of early agrarian civilizations in Mesoamerica

Standard 5: Major global trends from 1000 BCE-300 CE

Era 4
Expanding Zones of
Exchange and Encounter,
300-1000 CE
Standard 1: Imperial crises and their aftermath, 300-700 CE

Standard 2: Causes and consequences of the rise of Islamic civilization in the 7th-10th centuries

Standard 3: Major developments in East Asia and Southeast Asia in the era of the Tang dynasty, 600-900 CE

Standard 4: The search for political, social, and cultural redefinition in Europe, 500-1000 CE

Standard 5: The development of agricultural societies and new states in tropical Africa and Oceania

Standard 6: The rise of centers of civilization in Mesoamerica and Andean South America in the first millennium CE

Standard 7: Major global trends from 300-1000 CE

Era 5
Intensified Hemispheric Interactions
1000-1500 CE
Standard 1: The maturing of an interregional system of communication, trade, and cultural exchange in an era of Chinese economic power and Islamic expansion

Standard 2: The redefining of European society and culture, 1000-1300 CE

Standard 3: The rise of the Mongol empire and its consequences for Eurasian peoples, 1200-1350

Standard 4: The growth of states, towns, and trade in Sub-Saharan Africa between the 11th and 15th centuries

Standard 5: Patterns of crisis and recovery in Afro-Eurasia, 1300-1450

Standard 6: The expansion of states and civilizations in the Americas, 1000-1500

Standard 7: Major global trends from 1000-1500 CE

Era 6
The Emergence of the First Global Age, 1450-1770
Standard 1: How the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world from 1450-1600 led to global transformations

Standard 2: How European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication, 1450-1750

Standard 3: How large territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries

Standard 4: Economic, political, and cultural interrelations among peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas, 1500-1750

Standard 5: Transformations in Asian societies in the era of European expansion

Standard 6: Major global trends from 1450-1770

Era 7
An Age of Revolutions, 1750-1914
Standard 1: The causes and consequences of political revolutions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries

Standard 2: The causes and consequences of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, 1700-1850

Standard 3: The transformation of Eurasian societies in an era of global trade and rising European power, 1750-1870

Standard 4: Patterns of nationalism, state-building, and social reform in Europe and the Americas, 1830-1914

Standard 5: Patterns of global change in the era of Western military and economic domination, 1800-1914

Standard 6: Major global trends from 1750-1914

Era 8
A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945
Standard 1: Reform, revolution, and social change in the world economy of the early century

Standard 2: The causes and global consequences of World War I

Standard 3: The search for peace and stability in the 1920s and 1930s

Standard 4: The causes and global consequences of World War II

Standard 5: Major global trends from 1900 to the end of World War II

Era 9
The 20th Century Since 1945:
Promises and Paradoxes
Standard 1: How post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up

Standard 2: The search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world

Standard 3: Major global trends since World War II

World History
Across the Eras
Standard 1: Long-term changes and recurring patterns in world history

Notes on the World History Standards

Approaches to World History

These guidelines call for a minimum of three years of World History instruction between grades 5 and 12. They also advocate courses that are genuinely global in scope. The Standards set forth in this chapter are intended as a guide and resource for schools in developing or improving World History courses. They are not meant to serve as a prescribed syllabus or day-to-day course outline. Teachers may wish to explore a number of different conceptual and organizational approaches to curriculum design. How much time should be devoted to particular periods, regions, or historical issues? What subject matter should be emphasized and what topics excluded? What is the proper balance between generalization and detail? Different teachers and schools will arrive at different answers to these questions. The Standards presented here are compatible with and will support a variety of curricular frameworks. Among possible approaches, four are perhaps most widely used:

Comparative civilizations. This approach invites students to investigate the histories of major civilizations one after another. A single civilization may be studied over a relatively long period of time, and ideas and institutions of different civilizations may be compared. This framework emphasizes continuities within cultural traditions rather than historical connections between civilizations or wider global developments.

Civilizations in global context. This conceptualization strikes a balance between the study of particular civilizations and attention to developments resulting from interactions among societies. This approach may also emphasize contacts between urban civilizations and non-urban peoples such as pastoral nomads. Students are likely to investigate the major civilized traditions in less detail than in the comparative civilizations model but will devote relatively more time to studying the varieties of historical experience world-wide.

Interregional history. Teachers have been experimenting with this model in recent years. Here students focus their study on broad patterns of change that may transcend the boundaries of nations or civilizations. Students investigate in comparative perspective events occurring in different parts of the world at the same time, as well as developments that involve peoples of different languages and cultural traditions in shared experience. This approach includes study of particular societies and civilizations but gives special attention to larger fields of human interaction, such as the Indian Ocean basin, the “Pacific rim,” or even the world as a whole. In comparison with the other two models, this one puts less emphasis on long-term development of ideas and institutions within civilizations and more on large-scale forces of social, cultural, and economic change.

Thematic history. Here students identify and explore particular historical issues or problems over determined periods of time. For example, one unit of study might be concerned with urbanization in different societies from ancient to modern times, a second with slavery through the ages, and a third with nationalism in modern times. This approach allows students to explore a single issue in great depth, often one that has contemporary relevance. Teachers may want to consider, however, the hazards of separating or isolating particular phenomena from the wider historical context of the times. A useful compromise may be to choose a range of themes for emphasis but then weave them into chronological study based on one of the other three models.

A Note on Terminology

These standards employ certain terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers. Southwest Asia is used to designate the area commonly referred to as the Middle East, that is, the region extending from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Afghanistan, including Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula. Middle East is used only in certain standards pertaining to the 20th century. The term Afro-Eurasia appears occasionally to express the geographical context of historical developments that embrace both Africa and Eurasia. The secular designations BCE (before the Common Era) and CE (in the Common Era) are used throughout the Standards in place of BC and AD. This change in no way alters the conventional Gregorian calendar.