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Skidmore College
Honors Forum



The British Empire

Prof. Tillman Nechtman

An introductory survey of the British Empire from its earliest beginnings in the sixteenth century through decolonization in the post-World War II era. Students will focus on the political, economic, cultural, and ecological causes and consequences of British overseas expansion.  Topics include the ecological and biological impact of British imperialism; Elizabethan commercial expansion; the plantings of Ireland; early settlements in the New World and the impact on indigenous peoples; the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the plantation system in the Caribbean; the American Revolution and the end of the first British Empire; the ideologies of the British Raj in India; the “New Imperialism”of the late nineteenth century and the “scramble for Africa”; the transfer of technology and culture; and decolonization and the contemporary legacy of empire. (Fulfills social sciences requirement; designated a cultural diversity course.)


The Enlightenment

Prof. Erica Bastress-Dukehart

This course examines the most important interactions to take place within and among society, politics, and culture that characterized the intellectual and philosophical transformation known as the Enlightenment. Influenced by revolutionary advancements in science and medicine, inflamed by seditious political treatises, and distrustful of Catholic reforms, enlightened thinkers of the eighteenth century sparked the emergence of a new political and literary culture. Ultimately, the intellectual advancements that excited d'Alembert and his fellow philosophers helped to shape the ideological foundations of the American and French Revolutions.