The Lessons of History: On the Role of History in Self-understanding

Social Science and Scientific Thought

Course Description

When we engage in historical thinking and writing, are we seeing the present moment in light of the past or are we seeing the past in light of the present moment? What shall we make of the perception, derived from the experience of historical consciousness, that storytelling lies at the heart of self-understanding?

What evidence supports Santayana’s claim that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and how can we make sense of the fact that human beings so often fail to learn from experience? Does the accelerated, and accelerating, pace of contemporary living undermine or jeopardize our capacity to generate thoughtful accounts of what we are living through?

This course will explore these questions in relation to two core texts that will bookend our inquiry—Will and Ariel Durant’s classic The Lessons of History and Yuval Noah Harari’s recent 21 Lessons for the 21st Century—along with other readings reflective of multiple perspectives, such as Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave and Future Shock; Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now; and the writings of H. G. Wells and Arnold Toynbee.

Please note, that all courses have a maximum enrollment of 18 students.

Priority is given to students who pay upon registration.

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Course Details

First Session: Monday, September 16th 2019

Course Length: 12 weeks, Mondays, 6:15 PM - 8:15 PM

Discussion Team: Len Richman, Valerie Broege, Barbara Rolston

Course Fee: 

$150.00 (tuition fee)

$100.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$185.00 (tuition fee)

$135.00 (promotion for new students)


Please note, degree students must schedule an appointment with the Admissions and Accreditation Committee to register for courses for this term. Degree students should not register online.

The course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session.

If you have taken a course at TMI before

If you are NEW to TMI