In this paper, one will find examples of World History and United States highlighting the themes of the impact of geography on the development of human societies, how individuals have been the true mechanisms of social change, study the historical systems of power and governance, as well as, how science and technology are the devices of economic growth and development
The physical features of the land that includes terrain, climate, and natural resources do have a deep influence on the human societies and the development. Terrain, natural resources and climate can dictate the development of human societies and also contribute to the movement of people from one place to another and the spread of ideas. The geographic features have known to play an important role in trade routes, resources, natural disasters, that are identified to have a direct influence on the diffusion of societies as well.
Geography and the Development
Greek civilization was unique as it developed because of the influences from outside. It was also known as the "Birthplace of Western Civilization" and their ideas were remembered and accepted by the whole world. The geography of Greece is considered as an integral part of this small land and had a major impact on its political, economic and social growth. The geographical features of contributed to its advantage, as well as, disadvantages. Surrounded by three seas, Ionian Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, the ancient Greece was mountainous and made of rugged lands. Because of its tactical position, it served as the crossroads between Asia, Africa and Europe. Three geographical features affected the climate of Greece in appositive way and made it comfortable for people to engage in outdoor life. This permitted them to interrelate with each other and this led to the expansion of a distinct Greek culture, comprising of entertainment and art shows, public gatherings and meetings. As about 80 percent of Greece is a mountainous society, this factor contributes to the preservation of the Greek culture. Because of the mountains, the ancient Greek civilization remains secluded and did not get a chance to interact with other cultures. The negative aspect of this geographical feature was that it acted as a natural barrier and hindered communication among communities.
This slowed down the development of new ideas and introduction of new technology, thus obstructing the development of a unified system of government. The creation of the city-states was the ingenious solution of the Greeks o this problem and demonstrated that the democratic government worked better in smaller states (Willis, 1985). Another drawback of this geographical feature was that very few lands were dedicated to farming. Moreover, the rocky lands and poor soil made farming difficult for the Greeks. Still, they tried to domesticate sheep and cattle, and tried to cultivate olives and grapes.The sea is another important geographical feature and surrounded by three major bodies of water proved to be an advantage for Greece as it allowed them to indulge in travel and trade very early. Greece was near to major trade routes, and its people became fishers, sailors and merchants, as well as, excelled in ship buildings and voyaging. They imbibed great knowledge about seas and used them to their advantage. The Greeks got what they could not grow through trading and exchanged wine, wool, wine, wool, pottery, etc. Trade also encouraged cultural diffusion and led to an insight on different existing civilizations at that time. In short, it is apparent how geography shaped and affected the Greek civilization.Individuals as Mechanisms of Social/Governmental Change
People can change the world, and contributions of certain individuals have been significant, carrying their long-lasting and far-reaching influences on societies. It is not just the deliberate actions of individuals, but also the symbolic nature of their actions that led to a profound and far-reaching influence. One such individual is Tim Berners-Lee who kick-started the World Wide Web in 1989. He structured and created the first Web browser, editor and server. He wrote the first Web browser, editor and server and his specifications of HTTP and HTML were slowly advanced with the evolution of the web technology. As the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, he supports development of interoperable technologies behind Web that will help to realize its full potential. He promotes research and education in Web Science as the founding Director of the Web Science Trust that was launched in 2009. World Wide Web Foundation, where he is the Director, directs the efforts to further the prospective of the Web to benefit humanity (Reed, 2011). He is also a Professor at the University of Southampton, UK in the Electronics and Computer Science. He was honored and knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth, and was awarded the Order of Merit. While employed as a software engineer in the physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. This was a great help to all those scientists participating in experiments at CERN and in different laboratories around the world. Now, they were able to exchange data and results that they had difficulties doing so earlier. Tim understood the need very early on and released the potential of millions of computers connected through the Internet. Ever since, Web has changed the world and undoubtedly, has become the most powerful communication medium in the world. Web has changed the way man lives and gets information, fundamentally. The way information is sought and given, teachings and learnings, buying and selling, everything is dependent on web.
Web’s power has brought about positive change around the world, offering an open and free medium to access and share knowledge. People can access and offer services, participate in good governance, conduct commerce, and communicate in creative ways. According to Lee, one can change the world with only one section at a time, and the secret lies in recognizing that piece and picking it up (Hiatt, 2007). Tim Berners-Lee. One is so used to web that they look at it as a routine and simply overlook how radical it really was at the time. Lee too seems to downplay his own role in the creation of a world-changing technology. However, he still maintains that Web will remain a viable force only if it maintains that spirit of openness and collaboration in the future. His purpose in creating the Web was to make it accessible to just about everyone and not just by the business or government elite.Historical Systems of Power, Governance, and Authority Human society expresses itself in a different of forms. One of the aspects is power and governance, and how it can be exercised directly. Religious and ethical codes carry lower influence on forming the acceptable actions of society. The systems of authority often get challenged in revolution and can lead to lead to the creations of new systems. Looking back in history, it was in the 5th century BC that the Athens did an experiment in direct democracy, in contrast to the representative democracy of modern societies. This kind of democracy has two preconditions, one, the community must be small is size, and next, the economy must give citizens enough leisure time to engage in politics (THE ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY, 1837). In those ancient times, it meant that there must be more slaves to do the work. Both circumstances prevailed in Athens and thus supported the conditions favoring direct democracy. The Athens citizen democrats should be of an Athenian father and mother and were about50,000 in number. The population, along with these citizens were made of free women, children, slaves and foreigners trading in Athens. About 20% of the population is made of the voting citizens. When one looks back in the prehistoric period of Greece, the main fighting force was made of aristocratic families, and it was in the 7th century, one finds the development of the new military concept. Greek oligarchies displayed the power of the middle class. The poorer citizens took part in the army as light infantry, and it was only in the 5th century, due to the development of the Athenian navy, the citizens had a stronger part to play.
Athenian democracy that surfaced in the mid-5th century, where citizens took part in the government in a number of ways. The assembly or ecclesia met four times in a month, where each citizen had a voice (Harris, 2000). More than 5000 citizens assembled at ecclesia and the Scythian slaves, serving as police, were responsible for maintaining order of such a large assembly. The system of pay was introduced in about 400 BC or attendance, and the purpose was to recompense for loss of working time. The leading politicians, called rhetores carried the debate and the boule or council fixes the business of the day. The members are selected by drawing lots, thus establishing the principle of amateurism firmly. Each member serves for a month, and the chairman of the boule was changed every day. Thus, every councilor got the chance to be the head of state for one day of the year.
Athenians did use election for the most important posts, and the leaders were elected each year by the ecclesia. .The treasurer had the responsibility for the state's accounts and this aspect again shows that Athenians recognized the importance of expertise in some areas. Modern civil services in Athens included checking weights and measures, supervising the markets or travelling abroad. These responsibilities were carried out by randomly chosen citizens. The law, an important area, found no experts and the Jurors were selected by draw and applied a particular case. The Athenian court of law was rough and ready justice as it lacked a professional system.
Perhaps the most histrionic instance of direct democracy is the system of ostracism that was used in 5th-century Athens from about 487 to 417. The ostracized individual had to go into exile for ten years, however, care was taken that his family and property were taken care of in his absence, and his own subsequent rights remained protected. Ostracism could easily be used for political feud and revenge. Peloponnesian War in 404 BC led to the defeat of Athens, and brought an abrupt end to the direct democracy. The Athenians and other Greek states joined together in a fruitless revolt against Macedonian rule and oligarchy was imposed. Even today, the modern democratic countries look upon the Athenian experiment with great interest.
Science and Technology as Engines of Economic Growth and Development Technological innovations, whether through experiments and application of technology or inventions, always leads to a considerable and positive impact on economic growth. Several industries are made redundant because of new inventions and technologies. The recent years have seen massive innovations in many different fields of Science and Technology. The technological innovations leave a direct impact on the social consequences and economic growth. This is the Space Age and looking back, it was American Robert Goddard, who first researched on the rocket propulsion systems. The world's first liquid-fuel rocket was fired successfully in 1926 and reached a height of about 12 meters. Modest altitudes were achieved in the coming years as more experiments were done with liquid oxygen and gasoline to propel rockets. The American forces looked to bring home German rocket technology, and it was Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist, who became the head of a NASA center. The first satellite, Sputnik I, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, while Explorer I followed in 1958 by the United States. Sputnik electrified the world, inspiring wonder mixed with huge political resonance (Semeniuk2007). Soviet scientists showed the world, especially the western rivals that they were ahead of everyone else. It was in early 1961 that the first manned space flights were made, and clearly, those were the first small steps towards gigantic Apollo program and the reusable Space Shuttle. The American space program is an incredible presentation of applied science, with a large number of communications satellites transmitting computer data, radio and television broadcasts, telephone calls, etc. The weather reports are furnished by the satellites. Global positioning satellites became completely operational by 1994. The golden age of planetary science had begun, what with the interplanetary probes and space telescopes, as well as, an extensive astronomical work. Perhaps the most significant technological consequence is to get into space at all. Thousands of satellites orbit the Earth and the modern man depends on the satellites to get data for weather forecasting, telecommunications and surveillance.
The advancing technology in space has not only influenced the human supremacy in the outer world, but it has also altered the expression of higher education in America. Walk through any US university campus and one will come across dates on the science buildings. Right after Sputnik's flight, the infrastructure supporting the training of scientists was built in the US. US high-school science curriculum was completely revamped and new guidelines for the next generation of textbooks. After Sputnik, Darwin's theory of evolution was placed firmly at the focus of biology, while earlier, it was looked upon as a controversial topic by the publishers (Bizony, (2007). There was a resistance campaign to the teaching of evolution by the religiously motivated groups. The movement points to commence of the extensive transformation of science education in America. The effects of the education act spread wide and far, through time and space and the number of PhDs in the US rose. The growing pool of scientists and engineers became entrepreneurs and were further joined by talented international students and researchers. The wealth of opportunities offered by the openness of American society attracted both researchers and students, thus expanding the scientific community rapidly. What followed was a high-tech boom in the 1990s and this is looked upon as the most important transformation in human society since the industrial revolution. Sputnik did not spark the revolution directly, but it did set the stage for the scientific revolution. Space flight brought the revolution to a wide-ranging implementation and ushered in a new way of looking at everything. Space flights have proved to be the most important catalyst for human development and it is just the beginning.
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