20th Century History Lecture

This morning, Sixth Form History students heard a fascinating lecture from Prof Chris Fuller of Southampton University.

Prof Fuller encouraged students to look at the 20th century from a different perspective. Textbooks on this era tend to highlight wars, the Great Depression, poverty and poor healthcare, etc, which all give a misleading impression of the 20th century as a whole. He suggested that we need to adjust our perception of the 20th century to take into account population size, availability bias and historical myopia. For example, if one compared the number of deaths in conflict against the population of the time, stats would conclude that the 8th century was by far the bloodiest.

Following the Second World War, the creation of global organisations such as World Trade Organisation, NATA, World Health Organisation, World Bank, IMF and the UN, have worked towards maintaining peace, punish war crimes, help prevent boom and bust, funded and educated poorer nations, decreased child mortality and protected human rights. 

The rise of globalisation over the second half of the 20th century means countries are too inter-dependent to start a conflict - Silicon Valley in the US relies heavily on exports from China and trade is a powerful incentive for peace.

Prof Fuller concluded that historians can over focus on 'what went wrong', so we learn to not make the same mistakes again. He suggests it is as important that History reviews 'what went right', so that we can repeat these actions for a better future.

Our thanks to Mr Bartlett for organising this event.

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