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Big History and the Big History Project

Bob Bain

Here are some updates on the Big History Project (BHP), something I've been working on for almost three years. With my colleague David Christian (from McQuarie University) and our partners at bgC3 in Seattle (Bill Gates' personal office), we have constructed and have been piloting a high school course in big history that now has about 10,000 students in 9 countries taking it (and far more taking it unofficially).  

This free and open course captures the history of "everything" from the Big Bang to the History of the Future. Since we built it around the Common Core Literacy Standards, the students read lots of different texts -- including primary sources, videos and info-graphics -- and write evidence-based arguments, explanations, or narratives.  

We have also launched a course you can take online (about 3-4 hours), while the History Channel began a series of Big History programs with the BHP's support.  Below I've included some link to the public course, to short History Channel videos (3-4 minutes) that explain Big History and its various features, as well as some of History Channel program.  

If your school or a school with which you work would be interested in learning more about offering the BHP course -- did I mention that it is free and open? -- then do have them contact me at

Short videos on Big History and its features:

What is Big History?

Big History's Big Questions

Big History's Big Moments


Big History Mysteries

Big History and the Future

Big History’s Connections

Common Man


Big History Project's Online Course:

A 4-6 hour overview combining media assets custom built and curated from our school course with new original editorial to dramatize big history.   There is also built in quizzing functionality to provide more of a true educational experience, but it is not required.<  


History Channel's Big History episodes:  

The shows focus on big history topics -- such as salt, cold, caffeine, horses, gold -- as well as16 student "shorts" (essentially mini-commercials) featuring a Big History project student sharing what they learned in class. There is also great support for the course online with History Channel providing free copies of BHP "course on a key"  to teachers everywhere. Brian Cranston, Breaking Bad's lead character and arguably the most famous ex-teacher in television history, is the narrator for the show.


Bob Bain 

Chair, Secondary Teacher Education |  Associate Professor | Educational Studies | History

University of Michigan | 610 E. University | Ann Arbor, Mi.,  48109 |  734.615.0585