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Making of the Modern World

Eleanor Roosevelt College



Staff Contact:, (858) 534-4935

The Making of the Modern World (MMW) is an interdisciplinary General Education program at Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC).  MMW is grounded in world history and provides university-level instruction in academic research and writing.  Since 1988, when the program and college were founded, MMW has been serving as an academic manifestation of a fundamental aspect of the college’s mission, namely, “to feature dimensions of international understanding and cultural diversity,” and is required of all ERC students.

MMW is a five-course, lower-division sequence for students entering as freshmen (MMW11 – MMW15) and a two-course, upper-division sequence for students entering as transfer students (MMW121 – MMW122).

Learning Objectives

MMW prepares students to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the global past and its impact on the present and the historical and multi-cultural diversity that has shaped the modern world
  2. Assess differing interpretations of the past
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in formulating a thesis
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in structuring and presenting an effective argument in academic writing
  5. Critically analyze, effectively utilize, properly cite historical evidence in argumentative writing
  6. Understand and adhere to UCSD standards of academic integrity
  7. Demonstrate competency in critically engaging and analyzing course content in discussion section
  8. Engage in experiential activity related to the academic dimension of the MMW program, including study abroad, service programs, internships, etc.



MMW 11 Pre-history and Ancient Foundations (Fall and Summer)
MMW 11 explores human origins, the development of early forms of social and political organization, the strategies that early societies used to negotiate their physical and social environments, and the appearance of influential cultural traditions across the ancient world (to ca. 100 BCE).  Topics include the emergence of agriculture, the relationship between nomad and settled, the birth of the city and the expanding human ‘footprint,’ the development of writing, foundational religious and cosmological ideas and narratives, influential models of visual and material culture, and changing forms of social stratification and inequality.

MMW 12 Transforming Traditions & Emerging World Communities, ca. 100 BCE-1200 CE (Winter and Summer)

MMW 12 provides a global perspective on the past from ca. 100 BCE to ca. 1200 CE, examining the emergence of inter-regional networks and empires and their relationship with the advent and expansion of diverse religious movements, including Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, as well as cross-cultural contacts and exchanges. The course also explores forms of identity (ethnic, religious, and other), models of inclusion and exclusion, systems of power, hierarchy, and slavery, and the human-environmental relationship. MMW 12 is the first of two writing-intensive courses in the MMW sequence.

MMW 13 A Globalizing World: Exchanges, Entanglements, and Exploitation, 13th-18th Century (Spring and Summer)

MMW 13 presents a global perspective on the connections, exchanges, and transformations that linked Afro-Eurasia and the Americas during the period from 1200 to 1750 CE. The course examines the nature and consequences of this increasingly connected world. It focuses on spaces of cross-cultural contact and exchange, including the transfer of technologies, ideas, commodities, and customs and their environmental impact; encounters in the form of travel, trade, migration, and invasion; and exploitation through empire, colonization, and slavery, and their manifestation in state violence, intolerance, discrimination, and racism. MMW13 is the second of two writing-intensive courses in the MMW sequence.

MMW 14 Divergent Paths to the Modern World, 18th-20th Century (4 credits, Fall, Winter, and Summer)

MMW 14 explores divergent paths to modernity between the mid-eighteenth century and World War I. The course examines the influence of “the West” as a hegemonic force that disrupted global connections and forged new ones, changing the social, economic, political, and ecological norms of societies worldwide.  The course investigates how groups and individuals around the world adopted, contested, and/or resisted this influence.

MMW 15 The Contemporary Era: Conflict and Aspirations in a Globalized World, 20th-21st Century (Spring, Summer)

MMW 15 explores the cultural, economic, political, and social forces that shaped the 20th and 21st century and contestations over them. It examines the causes and impact of the global and local conflicts and inequalities that have defined the contemporary era. The course addresses efforts to defend and expand freedom, improve quality of life, and increase transnational cooperation and communication that challenge those hierarchies that perpetuate inequality. The course reflects on what this recent history may mean for our collective future. 

MMW 121 Exploring the Pre-Modern World (Fall, Summer)

MMW 121, the first of two required courses for ERC transfer students, addresses specific themes and topics from the pre-modern world (antiquity to the eighteenth century) and strengthens transfer students’ research and writing skills.


MMW 122 Exploring the Modern World  (Winter, Summer)

MMW 122, the second of two required courses for ERC transfer students, addresses specific themes and topics from the modern world (eighteenth century to the present) and strengthens transfer students’ research and writing skills.


Teaching Assistants

MMW is taught in high-enrollment courses, offered through a teaching-team combination of faculty-led lecture and TA-led discussion sections.  

TAs new to the MMW program generally teach in the first year of the sequence (MMW 11-MMW 13). During the Fall term, TAs new to the MMW program enroll in MMW200, which provides training in pedagogical theory and practice, and have a 50% teaching appointment, which requires working as a TA in an MMW course, leading one weekly discussion section, while receiving extra pedagogical support.  In any subsequent term, TAs teach a second discussion section, which replaces the extra pedagogical support received in the first term for new TAs.  

MMW 11 TAs attend three hours of lecture per week and meet with two sections of 30 students each once weekly.  This is reduced to one section for brand new TAs. 

In MMW 12 and MMW 13, TAs attend three hours of lecture per week and meet twice weekly with two sections of 16 students each.

In MMW 14 – MMW 15 and in the transfer sequence (MMW 121 - 122), TAs attend three hours of lecture per week and meet once weekly with two sections, 28 students each.

TAs are required to attend all lectures, read all readings assigned by the professor and MMW program, lead discussion section activities that foster student engagement with course content and hone analytical abilities, and evaluate assignments. TAs hold two office hours weekly, attend hour-long program meetings, and meet regularly with the course professor.

New and returning TAs attend an extended orientation in the fall, and short orientations prior to the start of the winter, spring, and summer terms.


Minimum Qualifications

Applicants must have completed at least 1-2 courses from the Teaching & Learning Commons, and must have experience in the teaching and grading of academic writing.

Applicants should specifically discuss these in their application. 

rev. 04/01/24