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World History is our opportunity to research and discuss any historical topic which is of interest to us. Our format is very informal with free ranging discussions on the topic at hand. At each meeting, a topic is agreed for research by members. The result of this research is then brought for discussion at the next meeting and introduced by the person who suggested the topic.
The past year has seen a good mix of topics for discussion ranging from Japan through Scandinavia, taking in the suffragettes and the East India Company. We started off in September with a discussion on the Edo period in Japanese history, 1603-1868. October’s meeting saw us discussing the Highland Clearances, looking at why it happened, what effect it had on local communities, what was the legacy, colonisation and the diaspora.
In November we discussed the history of rubber looking at how it was discovered, the impact of expansion on producing countries, its links to Empires such as the British, Dutch and Japanese and the environmental impact of the trade. December’s topic was the Cold War, Iron Curtain and a divided Berlin, attempting to answer questions such as why was the Berlin Wall erected, how did it affect families and looking at the Berlin airlift.
We started off the New Year looking at the history of Scandinavia ie, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Discussions included similarities and differences in development, ethnic differences, economies, influence on Europe as a whole. February’s meeting saw us discussing the suffragettes with questions such as, how it all started, the difference between suffragettes and suffragists, who were the main protagonists, what was happening in other countries, how has it affected women’s position in the modern world, being considered.
India from the demise of the East India Company to Independence was our topic for March. We looked at what caused the demise of the East India Company as well as its influence throughout India, Ghandi and Nehru and partition.
Our last meeting in April took place in the U3A’s new accommodation in the NCOC’s Business Centre. We discussed the life of Otto von Bismarck and included what Germany was like in the early 19th century and whether the way Bismarck united Germany make it a more belligerent country.
Following on from what we learned about German expansionism our first session in September will about the scramble for Africa from the 19th century to World War 1.