A Brief History of Humankind (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Coursera)

This group is a study group in the course "A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari


About the Course
One hundred thousand years ago, Homo sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. Our ancestors shared the planet with at least five other human species, and their role in the ecosystem was no greater than that of gorillas, fireflies, or jellyfish. Then, about 70,000 years ago, a mysterious change took place in the cognitive abilities of Homo sapiens, transforming it into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a god, molding not only its surroundings but also its own body and mind.

The course will explain how Homo sapiens conquered planet Earth, and what it did with its newly acquired power. How did Homo sapiens manage to drive all other human species to extinction, along with about half of the world’s large terrestrial mammals? When did money and gods appear, and why? How did empires rise and fall, and why is it possible for small minorities to lord it over vast numbers of subject populations? Why did almost all societies believe that women are inferior to men? What was the role of religion in history, and why did monotheism become the most widespread type of religion? How did science and capitalism become the dominant creeds of the modern era? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history progressed? And what are the chances that Homo sapiens will still be around in a hundred years?