Course Description

This page is a course guide and teaching supplement for my students at Seijo University, Tokyo, Japan. It is not a part of the official website of the university, as it contains information related only to my classes.

The plan written here was created in January 2022. The ongoing corona virus pandemic may require some changes in this plan. The plan may also change according to the existing knowledge of the students and their interests. If the group of students who register is small, a much more individualized plan can be developed. As a result, the content and methods may change considerably.

Much of my teaching will be done by giving students assignments to watch videos, read articles and to prepare to discuss them in class. I will communicate with students through this website, the university's WebClass system, and email, or other methods. It is highly recommended that students use a computer rather than a smartphone or tablet for completing homework assignments. Before 2020, some students were able to graduate without ever having owned a computer, but it is not possible to do writing and research at an advanced level with small devices. Consider a computer as basic required equipment.

You have to check three things regularly:

1. This website

2. WebClass and Campus Square

3. Your university email account ( Set up your university email account and check it every day.

In the first semester, the course covered how events at the end of World War I created the conflicts of the mid-20th century and the subsequent post-WWII world order in which the United States became the dominant global power. In the second semester we concentrate more on the various ways this world order has been resisted by emerging powers (Russia, China, and others), individuals, citizen groups, indigenous peoples, and large-scale independence movements in formerly colonized countries.

Course Goals

The daily cycle of reporting in the mass media tells citizens about many urgent problems in the world: environmental destruction, financial crises, and conflicts over religion, ethnic identity and resources. However, for young people this news can be a flood of meaningless information because it is usually presented in short reports without historical context. In this course we will attempt to overcome this problem by uncovering how our contemporary world order has developed since the end of World War I.

During the fifteen sessions of the course, we will take a regional approach to the subject, discussing case studies of independence movements, histories of aboriginal peoples, and protest movements that envision a different sort of world order based on different economic and political systems.

Students will note that this topic is extremely broad. The choice to do general coverage of a broad topic will give students many options to study the specific aspects of the course that they want to cover in their final projects due at the end of the semester.

Teaching Method

The final project consists of a research report presented to the class toward the end of the semester. Ideally, there should be many voices heard in the classroom, but for this to happen, students must do background readings and come to each class with informed opinions and questions.


1. Introduction to the concept of self-determination and provisions for it in the United Nations charter. An overview of “Indian wars,” treaties, reservations, and indigenous government in North America.

2. USA case study: The Occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969-70) by the American Indian Movement (AIM).

3. Canada case study: Lake St. Martin: The man-made “natural disaster” that struck an aboriginal community in the spring of 2011.

4. Mexico case study: Colonization, independence, revolution and the 1994 Zapatista uprising and revolt against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

5. Cuban assistance to independence struggles in Angola and Southern Africa (1960s-1980s). This is a review and a continuation of a topic covered in the first semester.

6. Separatism and balkanization. In the 1990s, who was allowed to be independent after the Cold War, and what were the consequences? Two case studies: Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

7. US involvement in the 1890s in the independence struggles of the Spanish colonies (Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and The Philippines) and the related US aggression against the Hawaiian Kingdom.

8. Ways for Native Hawaiians to defend and rebuild their culture: Become a protected indigenous group or use international law to end occupation and restore the Hawaiian Kingdom?

9. 1963-68: the age of American political assassinations and the consequences for the world.

10. Cuba, Indonesia and Southeast Asia after the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy.

11. East Timor’s long struggle for independence (1974-2001) during the Indonesian military dictatorship.

12. West Papua’s recolonization by Indonesia (1962, 1969) and the ongoing struggle for independence.

13. Student presentations 1

14. Student presentations 2

15. Student presentations 3

If the corona virus (Sars-Cov-2) still presents too much of a risk at any time during the academic year, the teacher will conduct classes by Zoom sessions and by using some on-demand materials. If such a change is necessary, the content, teaching method and method of evaluation will be revised. Regardless of the general level of risk posed by the corona virus, there may be some students who have special health reasons for not wishing to attend classes on campus. Such students will be able to follow the course through independent study methods.

Homework, Revision and Preparation

Students should do assigned readings or film viewings each week and find research materials related to the course on their own initiative.


Participation (30%) Preparation for participation (30%) Presentation of term paper (40%)

Item 2 is distinct from item 1 because it puts a value on how much the student’s participation in discussions has been supported by an effort to be well-informed about the topics being discussed.

If the corona virus (Sars-Cov-2) still presents too much of a danger at the end of the semester, the final presentation will be performed online or submitted to the teacher as a recording.


No textbook is required. Materials will be supplied by the teacher and students. Various readings will be assigned by the teacher. The teacher will also provide the students with a suggested reading list of books and other resources.

Reference Material

Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone, The Untold History of the United States (Gallery Books, 2012) 1,788 yen.

Students do not need to buy this book, but it is recommended as a useful resource. This book has been translated into Japanese and there are also abridged versions of the book and a video documentary series based on the book.

Expectations for Enrolled Students 

A very high proficiency in English is not required, but students should have some ability to discuss the challenging topics covered in this course. Students will need more than the ability to do “daily conversation” and they will need to be seriously motivated to use and improve their English. Some of the students in this class may be native speakers of English, so non-native speakers of English should understand that this is not an English language training course. However, it is a good way to prepare for studying at a university overseas where English is the language of instruction.

If students have good attendance, complete assignments on time, do background reading, participate in class, and make thoughtful contributions to discussions, and complete the final project, they will succeed.


email: riches[at]

Office: Room 3813

Office Hours: Wednesday 10:40-12:10, Friday 10:40-12:10, Friday 14:40-16:10

It is preferable to send an email to the teacher before visiting during office hours.