Syllabus – World History 1

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Course Operations Manual (AKA, "the syllabus")

World History from Prehistory to 1400 with Jack Norton

“True peace required the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.”**
― N.K. Jemisin, The Killing Moon

“Learning is always rebellion . . . Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before.” Margaret Lee Rubneck

Welcome to World History

There are no prerequisites for this course, and you do not need any specialized knowledge. The class will be taught in English, with occasional cheesy jokes and mild vulgarities in Spanish.

Studying history has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. People today publish more lies about the past than evidence-based history. For your parents, finding historical information was the challenge. For you, sorting credible from non-credible information will be the defining feature of your historical work, and indeed your information life.

I want you to learn about the past, learn new skills about how to analyze and present about the past, and learn new ways of how to learn (called metacognition). The learning goals, or outcomes, fit in these three groups. The goals for this course are below. I may sometimes call these learning outcomes, or the stuff I want you to be able to do by the end of this course.

Learning Goals

You will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad understanding of World History from pre-History through the early modern era (thirteenth through seventeenth centuries CE).

  2. Make use of historical thinking.

  3. Analyze historical sources, distinguishing primary from secondary sources;

  4. Communicate effectively using historical evidence and methods.

  5. Analyze and understand the diversity of peoples within their distinctive historical contexts.

  6. Develop strategies for advancing your learning skills, such as effective reading, writing, acquiring new digital skills and critically analyzing historical sources.

  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethics of acquiring, using, and presenting historical sources, as articulated by both professional organizations and historical subjects.

Required Resources

  • Access to a computer that has multiple browsers.
    Tablets and smart phones will not work for most work we do in this course.

  • High-speed internet connection. You do not need to have home access- you can use Normandale’s computers. See the link for how to find free wi-fi hotspots

  • Critical Mind

  • There is no textbook to buy for this course. All materials are free ($0) to Normandale students.

Contact Information – Jack Norton

  • Office Phone: 952-358-8911
  • Google Voice Number for text: 612-208-3723
    I cannot communicate about grades or personal information over text, but if you have a quick question or just want me to know something, please write using full words. I have a disability that makes texting language, for example, brb for "will be right back" almost impossible to understand. Text like I’m your grandpa and we’ll be fine.
  • Discord: – Chat with me or others in the class.

Email: [at]
Email is the best way to reach me. I respond to emails and calls within 24-36 hours Monday-Friday (most of the time much faster). On weekends I respond by Sunday evening.

Student (Office) Hours:

Monday: 10-11 am, 1-2 pm Additional phone and video chat times are available by scheduling an appointment with me.

Phone and Video Student [Office] Hours

Student check ins are when I am available to chat, by phone or video. You can schedule a specific time to meet with me, or just call me. Book an appointment with me. Appointments available Monday 1-2 p.m., Tuesday 12-2 p.m., Wednesday 2-3 p.m., 8:30 – 9:00 p.m., Thursday 12-1 p.m.

Course Policies

COVID Notice

I expect (but cannot require) all students in face-to-face classes to be vaccinated.

If you feel any symptoms, please do not come to campus.

The regular grading policies in this syllabus provide that a student could not turn in two weeks of assignments and suffer no grade penalty.

If you or a family member you care for are incapacitated by COVID or any other debilitating disease, we can work on a schedule to allow you make up an additional two weeks of material beyond the regular schedule. Missing more than four weeks of the course and passing the class is not realistic and we should talk about your options.

Assignments and Grades

Every two weeks you’ll do four assignments for each learning module:

  • Preparation: A series of questions about our sources for the week and an opportunity to identify your expertise and experience with the week’s subject.
  • Project: The major history project you’ll complete for the week using historical sources and digital tools.
  • Revision: A major improvement to your Project with new material from the second week of the teaching module.
  • Reflection: A paragraph of writing reflecting on what you learned from the week’s assignment and from your fellow classmates.
Assignment Individual assignment value Weeks
Leveling Up 15% 1-2
Art Analysis 10% 3-4
Metadata 10% 5-6
Distant Reading 10% 7-8
GIS 10% 9-10
Data Literacy 10% 11-12
Podcast 10% 13-14
Portfolio 20% 15-Final
Citizenship 5% 16

Grades in this course are weighted. To understand how this works, see this explanation.

Bug hunt- If you find an error in any course materials that can affect learning (a broken link, an omitted word that changes the meaning of an assignment), please tell me about the bug on Discord with "#bughunt" as the tag. I save up the bug hunt bonusses and apply them to final grades that are very close to the next letter grade. Reporting minor bugs, such as a mis-formatted web page or non-learning related spelling error, earn my thanks.

E-Learning- What you need to know

  • Please use your student email for all emails to me, as required by the Family Education and Rights Privacy Act.

  • Please recognize that written communication requires more careful word choice than oral communication. For example, sarcastic comments do not work because you can not read sarcasm, only hear it.

If you need technology help, you may call our IT help desk at 952-358-8181. Even better, ask them a question on Normandale’s “Ask Us” page, which will help track your request.

Late Work-
There is no late work. Instead, I drop the equivalent of two weeks of work, or a 12% curve. This means you can miss assignments for two weeks, for any reason, and it will not affect your final grade.

Reading and Writing-
This is a reading and writing-intensive course. You will read up to 75 pages a week and write at least 16 pages of typed, doubled-spaced pages of text (total, not all at once). Writing guidelines for each assignment will be discussed in course and included on the assignment.

Written work will be submitted to your own cloud-based (web backed-up) file using Office 365 or google docs. Instruction for setting up your own Assignment Fils will be on our course page.

Assessment: Assessment means measuring your learning, I can do this by asking you questions, indicating if your answers are correct or not, and giving you a grade. Grades are the way I assess your learning. I can also assess your learning by teaching you the tools of historical thinking, having you build historical arguments, and then asking you to evaluate your work. Both grading and self evaluation will be key elements of assessing your learning.

Academic Standards

Students in this course will adhere to the rules of Normandale Community College’s Code of Conduct. Such rules prohibit plagiarizing another student’s work (taking credit for someone else’s work or stealing work from the web) and creating a hostile academic environment for students or staff. Refer to your student handbook for the full Student Code of Conduct or see: here. We will work through how to properly cite material during the semester. Please be aware that the penalty for plagiarism is failure of the assignment, then possibly the course, and possibly dismissal from the College.

Support for you

Writing Resource- You are encouraged to use Normandale’s Writing Center as you create and rewrite your assignments. The Writing Center is online and face-to-face. Book an appointment with them- they can help at every stage of writing.

When Life Happens

To learn effectively we need our basic needs met, such as housing and food. If you need help with things like finding a stable place to live and getting enough food please visit Normandale’s Student Resource Center and/or the Campus Cupboard. Normandale provides a broad range of support services for you. I strongly encourage you to use these resources as past student experience shows that students who use support services succeed.

Normandale’s Student Resource Center helps students meet their current and long-term basic needs and goals. The center connects students to campus and community resources and services to help them overcome barriers that interfere with their academic success.

  • Connects students to resources related to childcare, food, housing, transportation, healthcare, and more to address specific needs.
  • Hosts resource fairs, workshops, and brings community organizations to make resources more available.
  • Provides a support system and increases knowledge of navigating systems on and off-campus.

The Student Resource Center is available to all students by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please email or call 952-358-9090.
Below are some resources that may also be of use:

  • Counseling- This department, located at the front of the College Services building provides personal counseling and can refer you to community services. For your mental health, they are there, including if you need an emergency mental health session. 952-358-8261.

  • In addition, enrolled students are eligible to see a licensed mental health provider on Normandale’s campus free of charge. Services include mental health assessment, counseling, consultation and outreach/programming. To schedule an appointment, please call 952-358-8926.

  • Academic Advising- This department can help you chose classes, an emphasis, plan for your transfer to a four-year college, and offer career advice.

  • Veterans Resource Center- a one-stop shop for information and support. 952-358-8501

  • Tutoring Center- Houses the writing tutors along with math, science, logic, reading and EAP tutors. Free and walk-in hours. 952-358-8830.

  • Child Care- Here is a list of childcare providers nearest Normandale. You should also talk to the financial aid office about possible grants for childcare. Parents facing an emergency choice of missing class or bringing their children to class should bring the kids.

    If you are a parent, you should also talk to our Financial Aid department about the the MN Childcare Grant, which can pay for a portion of your childcare.

  • Office for Students with Disabilities-I welcome all students to this class, regardless of their different abilities. Normandale Community College is committed to providing equal access for students with disabilities through the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). If you experience educational barriers because of a disability, please make an appointment for an intake/interview to discuss these needs and to implement appropriate accommodations for your Normandale courses. Appointments are available by calling the OSD staff at 952-358-8625, emailing This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request.

  • Internet- If you have a student in your home who qualifies for free lunches, your household qualifies for a low-cost (\$10/month) internet connection from Comcast. See here for details.

  • Showers- The bathrooms in the lower-level of the Koop Student Center have showers, which can be used any time the Student Center is open.

  • Homelessness- Advising and Counseling Services, 952-358-8261

  • Immigration Legal Advice- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, 651-641-1011,
    Available Food Shelves in Municipality – Student Resource Center, 952.358.9349,

  • Nursing Mothers There is a lactation room in the basement of the the Library building, adjacent to the women’s bathroom and one in the Partnership building, and in the front College Services building. You can get a key card from the security department that will give you access to the room for the semester. Security is located across from the theater.

  • Food

  • Normandale’s Campus Cupboard

The Campus Cupboard is Normandale’s food pantry. Students can visit the pantry once per day and can get up to 3 items each visit. The Campus Cupboard page also has links to other local food resources, including the mobile fresh food pantry.

  • VEAP | | 9600 Aldrich Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55420 |952-888-9616

Mon-Thurs: 8 am-5 pm and Fri: 8 am-4:30 pm

VEAP offers food resources including a food pantry to residents in Bloomington, Edina, Richfield, and parts of south Minneapolis by appointment. They provide social services related to financial assistance, bus passes, and referrals. VEAP also has a Mobile Food Pantry located at:
• Southgate Apartments (8100 12th Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55425) on Wednesdays 2:30pm-4:30pm
• Dar Al-Farooq (8201 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420) on Fridays 12:30pm-2:30pm

  • Good in the ‘Hood | |612-440-7463

Good in the ‘Hood has two pantry locations and offers other food resources and programs.
Pantry Location and Hours:
Cedarcrest Church (1630 E 90th St. Bloomington, MN 55425)
• 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm
Beacon of Hope Church (2827 Newton Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN 55411)
• 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm

Hunger Solutions has an interactive map with locations of free dining sites, food shelves, farmers market, and more food resources and organizations.

This website can also be a helpful tool to search for food pantries by city.

Why are grades on D2L but most of the course material are on

The Federal Education Rights Privacy Act requires that all computer systems with access to private student data (like your grades) have a secure login. I’m not willing to create this type of system, so we use D2L for those items related to grades. For everything else, having the course available on the open web is a superior option. If you want to know more, please see me. The tl;dr is that the open web is better for access, accountability, and responsive teaching.

Changes will be announced on our course website.

Image of Comic About Credibility

I reserve the right to amend this syllabus to better facilitate students’ learning. Changes to the syllabus (if any) will be announced in the news section and an amended syllabus will be posted on the class website.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License