Associate Professor of History- Frederik Meijer Honors College
Field of Study
Focus on East Asia
Team-taught with two colleagues from modern languages and literature, this course explores the history and culture of China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia between c. 50,000 BCE and today. During the first semester, Professor Benjamin explores the history of China from the Paleolithic Era to the Tang Dynasty, including Chinas engagement with ancient Central Asia along the Silk Roads; while Professor Yan Liang offers a comprehensive overview of the literature of China from ancient times through to the twenty-first century. In the second semester, Professor Benjamin follows Chinese history from the Tang Dynasty through to today, and also investigates the long and fascinating history of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia; while Professor Robinson offers a comprehensive overview of the literature and culture of Korea and Japan. By the end of this two-semester course students will have gained a deep understanding and appreciation of the fascinating 50,000 year-long history of this dynamic region, and the extraordinary contributions its peoples have made to global culture. This course fulfills the General Education Program's Foundations (Philosophy and Literature Emphasis) and World Perspective (Culture Emphasis), and WRT 150 designations. Students also learn how to research and write extensive and rigorous research essays.
Big history weaves evidence and perspectives from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible origin story one that explores who we are, how we got here, how we are connected to everything around us, and where we may be heading. Big History examines these connected histories on very large scales across long time frames through a multidisciplinary approach focused on both the history of the non-human world, and on the major adaptations and alterations in the human experience. This course begins with the origins of the universe, and goes on to consider the origins of stars and planets, of life on earth, the emergence of human beings, and the various types of human societies that have existed up to the present day. History on this sort of scale encourages each of us to consider our place in the global world of the twenty-first century, and to think of how we might contribute to the future of that world. Professor Benjamin teaches both semesters of the course, and he is joined throughout the course by many different professors from various academic disciplines who bring their expertise to the class through a series of guest lectures. This course fulfills the General Education Program's Foundations (Historical Perspectives and Social Science Emphasis) and World Perspective (Culture Emphasis), and WRT 150 and one SWS designations. Students also learn how to research and write extensive and rigorous research essays in a range of scientific and historical subjects.
Craig has also been the recipient of several teaching awards at GVSU, including the 2009 Student Senate Award for Faculty Excellence, and was a nominee for the 2013 US Professor of the Year Award.
Dr. Craig Benjamin is an Associate Professor of History who is appointed full time to the Meijer Honors College. Prior to taking up an academic career, Craig was a professional musician and jazz educator for 25 years in Australia. Gaining his PhD from Macquarie University in 2003. Craig is a frequent presenter of lectures at conferences world wide, and the author of numerous published books, chapters and essays on ancient Central Asian history, Big History, and world history. Craig recently co-authored the first ever Big History textbook – Big History: Between Nothing and Everything – published by McGraw-Hill in 2013. Craig is also editor of Volume 4 of the forthcoming Cambridge History of the World.