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.

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 you 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.

Special Topics IA “Cold Wars” and Contemporary History

Subtitle of the Course

Examining the Legacy of the 20th Century World Order

Course Description           

This course provides an overview of the world events that occurred after World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in the early 20th century. It connects this century of ideological conflict to events happening in the present. Most of the focus will be on what is called the “cold war” era—a period of time in which the United States-Soviet Union nuclear rivalry co-occurred with various national independence movements throughout the world. Students will gain an understanding of how this history shaped the present time in which the world is still often described as a contest among "great power" adversaries armed with nuclear weapons.

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 examining how the present world order has grown out of events of the early 20th century (WWI, the Bolshevik Revolution and the reaction against it).

Teaching Methods

During the fifteen sessions of the course we will take a regional approach to the subject, discussing how the major world powers fought over spheres of influence in various parts of the world. 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 focus on specific aspects of the topic that they want to cover in their final projects due at the end of the semester.

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 in order for this to happen, students must do background readings and come to each class with informed opinions and questions for discussion.

Course Schedule  

1. Course introduction. World history quiz. WWI, the end of empires, new world order and the Bolshevik Revolution.

2. From 1917 to 1945, the European civil war: fascism vs. socialism, the rise of German nationalism, fascist reaction against socialism, the decline of the British and French empires and the rise of American global dominance.

3. The beginning of the nuclear age. The social and ecological costs of nuclear weapons. A new world order emerges after WWII.

4. Religion, ideology and propaganda during the Cold War.

5. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Documentary film segment: The Man Who Saved the World.

6. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Scenes from the film: Thirteen Days.

7. Decolonization and the superpower proxy wars in Africa. The story of "Cuba in Africa" during the wars in Congo and Angola (Part 1).

8. Decolonization and the superpower proxy wars in Africa. The story of "Cuba in Africa" during the wars in Congo and Angola (Part 2).

9. The non-aligned movement: an attempt to find a third way between the US and the USSR.

10. American intervention in Southeast Asia and Indonesia in the 1950s and 1960s.

11. The lasting effects of the American intervention in Indonesia in the 1960s. Discussion of the documentary films: The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence.

12. The 1980s: Protests against the threat of nuclear war, the Reagan-Gorbachev summits, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the disappearance of the USSR. The recent emergence of Cold War II.

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 danger 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.

Independent study outside of Course Hours (Assignments, Preparation and Review etc.)

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

Assessment Criteria and Methods      

Participation: 30%, Preparation for participation: 30%, Final project: 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 discussed during the course.

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. Various readings and films will be assigned by the teacher.

Suggested Readings and Supplementary Materials         

Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone, The Untold History of the United States (Gallery Books, 2012), ISBN:1982102535, ¥1,788.

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 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.

Method to Contact the Lecturer

Room 3813
Wednesday 10:40-12:10, Friday 10:40-12:10, Friday 14:40-16:10