“Cultures are like books, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once remarked, each a volume in the great library of humankind. In the sixteenth century, more books were burned than ever before or since. How many Homers vanished? How many Hesiods? What great works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music vanished or never were created? Languages, prayers, dreams, habits, and hopes—all gone. And not just once, but over and over again. In our antibiotic era, how can we imagine what it means to have entire ways of life hiss away like steam? How can one assay the total impact of the unprecedented calamity that gave rise to the world we live in? It seems important to try.” – Charles C. Mann, author of 1491.
- The Inca: Andean Civilization in the Realm of the Four Parts (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): The tremendous success of the Inca was attained by harnessing and adapting the incredible achievements of the earlier peoples of the Andes, one of only six places in the world where civilization developed independently.
- A Guided Tour of Peru is a curated photo essay for use in middle and high school social studies classrooms. The essay offers a brief, completely non-comprehensive overview of Peruvian historical and cultural sites circa 2016 and is meant to present these topics in an unconventional way – that is, as if the student were travelling through, wandering, and exploring Peru on their own. Explore the streets of Cusco and Lima, scramble through Inca ruins from Machu Picchu on down, take a slow boat up the Amazon River from Iquitos, and an even slower boat across Lake Titicaca to the floating man-made islands of the Uros.
- Potosi and the Globalization of an Empire (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): Globalization is nothing new – the indigenous peoples slaving away in the Potosi mines 500 years ago could tell you all about it, while Europeans cracked the whip in order to buy Asian-made goods at affordable prices. Add in the fact that the mines were supplied with food and coca by African slaves laboring away in the low lands, and you have a template for the modern integrated global economy – exploitation, unequal rewards, and all.
- A Guided Tour of Bolivia is a curated photo essay for use in middle and high school social studies classrooms. The essay offers a brief, completely non-comprehensive overview of Bolivian historical and cultural sites circa 2016 and is meant to present these topics in an unconventional way – that is, as if the student were travelling through, wandering, and exploring Bolivia on their own. Explore the streets of La Paz and El Alto, scramble through the 500 hundred year-old silver mines of Potosi, or race across the barren salt flats of Uyuni.
- Unrecognized Potential: Terra Preta, Ancient Orchards, and Life in the Amazon: Until relatively recently, was widely believed that the Amazon Rainforest was incapable of sustaining large scale human development. New findings have challenged this view, and evidence of ancient agriculture suggests that humans once developed this fragile region in ways so subtle that – in the form of carefully managed soils and prehistoric orchards – they have been hiding in plain sight all this time, challenging the basic tenants of “agriculture” as western eyes tend to recognize it.
- New Horizons in Peru and Bolivia, Travel Writing: In July 2016, Openendedsocialstudies.org founder Thomas Kenning was awarded a Fund for Teachers fellowship to conduct research for a set of lessons on the Inca, Peru, and Bolivia. Educational in their own right, his blog posts offer plenty of history, culture, and photos woven into a first person narrative, which attempts to present honestly and conversationally one traveler’s experience while conducting research abroad.
THIS UNIT WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH A GENEROUS GRANT FROM FUND FOR TEACHERS.