This course, the first course in a series of two, deals with Western civilization from pre-history to the late seventeenth century. Emphasis on the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome, Middle Ages, the Papacy, Renaissance and Reformation, early nation states and the Thirty Years’ War. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in early Western civilization.


The History of the world is the story of nations and empires that prospered and later perished. Some empires declined slowly before their ultimate demise. Others were destroyed or captured suddenly. The great empires of the past are now little more than artifacts in museums, or broken-down monuments where they once thrived.

Have we learned the lessons of their history? The renowned philosopher George Santayana, in his famous treatise Reason in Common Sense, wrote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Will we in the Western world learn the lessons of history? Or will we follow the pattern of all great kingdoms and empires that have come and gone before us--that rose to the heights of power and dominance, and then fell into decedance and oblivion?

Edward Gibbon pointed out key causes of the demise of the ancient Roman Empire: a love of pomp and luxury, a growing gap between rich and poor, an obsession with sex, freakishness in art and an increasing desire to receive government payments and live at state expense. In the last half-century, these same phenomena have become increasingly visible in the Western nations. Other historians and analysts have generated similar lists, noting the parallel conditions that lead to national decline. Jim Nelson Black, in a book entitled When Nations Die, Describes trends found in empires that declined and disappeared from the world stage: increasing lawlessness, loss of economic discipline (rising debt), increasing bureaocracy, decline in the quality of education, decay of religious belief, increasing materialism, rising immorality (pornography, sex outside of traditional marriage), weaking cultural foundations, disrespect of government, the devaluation of human life (abortion, euthanasia, violent crime), and loss of respect for traditional values and instiutions. Tragically, all these trends have appeared and spread during the last 50 years in the "Christian" nations of the West.

Drawing a lesson from history, commentator Russel Kirk observed, "No nation endures forever: of those that have vanished...most have expired due to internal decay" (American's British Culture, p. 90). Samuel Huntington, a noted Harvard University historian, discussed stages that civilizations go through and progressive signs of decay, "when the civilization, no longer able to defend itself, because it is no longer willing to defend itself, lies open to barbarian invaders" (The Clash of Civilizations, p. 303). Sadly, this describes the conditions in many Western nations today!

The past is one of the most powerful forces shaping the present world today. Whether or not others learn the lessons of history you can through this course which we offer with a distinctively conservative Christian worldview.


There are no Prerequisites or Corequisites for this course.

Sandor, Mark L.

Adjunct Professor in History
Part Time
B.A. (2004); M.A. (2005); M.A.Ed. (2013), University of Arkansas Fayetteville
Subject Matter: 

Mark Sandor earned his B. A. in History and Drama from the University of Arkansas in 2004. He completed a MAT the following year and was hired by Springdale Public Schools that August. While working as a middle-level Social Studies teacher, Mr. Sandor continued taking master level classes in both History and Educational Leadership.  He earned a MED in Educational Leadership from the University of Arkansas in 2013. In 2012, Mr. Sandor was ordained an elder and was hired by the Living Church of God in the summer of 2014. He currently serves as the pastor of congregations in West Virginia and southwest Virginia. 

Course Credit: 
3 semester hours
Instructional Objectives: 

On successful completion of this course, student should be able to:

  1. Identify the social, economic, and religious factors which led to the rise of civilization
  2. Evaluate the classical age of Greece and Rome and note its impact on the subsequent development of Western Civilization
  3. Identify the characteristics of medieval European civilization and describe its rise after the fall of Rome
  4. Identify the political, religious, intellectual, and economic factors in the dissolution of medieval Europe and their impact on the development of the modern world
  5. Assess the rise of Christianity within its historical context and consider the relationship of historical Christianity to the Christianity of twentieth-century America
  6. Describe the factors that led to the rise of the modern world, including the rise of the nation-state and the scientific revolution
  7. Think historically, i. e. recognize the change in perspective that occurs when one considers issues in terms of development over time, the power of ideas, and the nature of cause and effect
  8. Confront one’s own presuppositions concerning Western history and evaluate their importance in developing a worldview
  9. Engage the task of historical argumentation by the use of clearly stated theses supported by appropriate evidence
  10. Define key terms.
Required Texts: 

Students may order their books through the University Bookstore which is located on our main website. Living University is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Be aware that the books used or referred to in this course are commercial publications. They represent the views and ideas of their authors, editors, and publishers. Living University does not endorse these texts nor vouch for their accuracy. We simply employ them in helping you master the content of the course.

Required Text Books:

  1. Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization: Volume I: To 1715 (9th Edition). Cengage Learning. ISBN-10: 1285436482, ISBN-13: 978-1285436487.
  2. Brophy, J. M., et al.  Perspectives from the Past: Primary Sources in Western Civilization (Sixth Edition). W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN-10: 0393265390, ISBN-13: 978-0393265392. 

Optional Books: None  


Course Calendar: 
Lesson 1 Ancient Near East
Chapter 1: The First Civilizations
Chapter 2: Peoples and Empires
Lesson 2 Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic World
Chapter 3: The Civilization of the Greeks
Chapter 4: The Hellenistic World
Lesson 3 The Romans
Chapter 5: The Roman Republic
Chapter 6: The Roman Empire
Lesson 4 The Early Middle Ages
Chapter 7: Late Antiquity and the Emergence of the Midieval World
Chapter 8: European Civilization in the Early Middle Ages, 750-1000
Lesson 5 The High Middle Ages
Chapter 9: The Recovery and Growth of European Society in the High Middle Ages
Chapter 10: The Rise of Kingdoms and the Growth of Church Power
Lesson 6 The Late Middle Ages and Renaissance
Chapter 11: The Later Middle Ages - Crisis and Disintegration in the Fourteenth Century
Chapter 12: Recovery and Rebirth - The Age of the Renaissance
Lesson 7 Reformation and Exploration
Chapter 13: Reformation and Religious Warfare in the Sixteenth Century
Chapter 14: Europe and the World - New Encounters, 1500-1800
Lesson 8 Nation States and the Scientific Revolution
Chapter 15: State Building and the Search for Order in the Seventeenth Century
Chapter 16: Toward a New Heaven and New Earth - The Scientific Revolution and the Emergence of Modern Science
Course Requirements: 

Due dates and extensions                      
Submit assignments on or before the due date. No late or make-up assignments will be allowed except for estreme circumstances (permission of instructor is necessary). Students must complete the course by the last offical day of instruction as set forth in the academic calendar.

Icebreaker assignment
All students are required to post a brief biography to the forum by Friday of the first week of class. Included with the biography on yourself, briefly answer the following questions (please limit your comments to 200 words). The assignmetn is worth 5 points.

  • Your name and the church area that you attend.
  • How long you have been part of/attending the church.
  • Why you are taking this particular course and what you hope to learn.
  • Whether or not you have taken any other Living University courses.
  • Where you intend to attend the Feast of Tabernacles this year (if you are able to attend).

Viewing assignments
Course lectures will take the format of both video and audio. See course website for details.

Reading assignments
Students will be responsible for the chapter readings that correspond with the class lecture. Endeavor to read the chapter prior to logging in and completing the weekly assignment. Readings will correspond with in-class assignments and will help you to be better informed. Completing the readings in advance will make the assignments make more sense to you!

Discussion forums
Students are expected to participate in class discussions by posting comments and questins they might have ont he Discussion Forum (see link on the course website). These discussion posts will try something a bit different from other courses and will have three steps in them.

  1. Each unit, students will select a reading from the list of non-assigned primary sources in the Brophy textbook. They will then compose six total statements about their reading: four of which should be true statements while two of which should be false statements. One key to this is that your post must be about a different document than any other document that has been posted about! If you were planning on doing Hammurabi’s Code, and see that someone else has already posted six statements about it, you must choose a different document for your initial post. It therefore behooves you to get this going as early in the unit as possible. Moreover, this first post is due by the first Sunday of each unit.
  2. Students should reply to two (and only two) other students’ posts by commenting on three of their statements. Replies should provide proof for three of the statements of the original posts. Each reply should ‘prove’ two facts (by citing the document, Brophy’s comments, or other reputable sources) as well as correct one of the false statements. If you are the first person to reply, you may choose any three of the statements (provided you make sure you find two truths and one falsehood). The second person to reply to the post must choose the other three statements for their response. This step should be done by the second Friday of each unit.
  3. Finally, after two people have commented on your post, finish the thread by posting again and seeing if the two people correctly identified the true and false statements. Hopefully they will do so, but you should also seek to provide additional comments if you notice that their citations were different than yours (which is not always wrong – but it can be interesting to see how different people take different routes to explain these documents). This should be finalized by the end of the unit. However, as soon as your comment has two responses to it, you can feel free to post your concluding remarks.

Be sure your original six comments are specific and detailed statements. Also, make sure that your “comments” are more than merely “personal opinion.” Your comments should be grounded in your readings. There are 10 points possible for each unit, except for the first discussion in Lesson 1, which will be worth 5 points (for a total of 75 points for the entire course). The total points earned will determine your class participation score. Please note that these discussion posts will add to the interactivity of the class, allow you to know what you fellow classmates are thinking, and also enable you to get to know your classmates better. The more you are engaged in these class discussions, the more you will get out of the course and the more you will enjoy it.

    Writing assignments                     
    Eight short writing assignments will be due throughout the term. The assignments should be approximately two pages, double-spaced, typed. Any writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA style as set forth in Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide by Lester & Lester. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. Be sure to answer the prompt as completely as possible but be sure to remember, these assignments are supposed to be short writing assignments. If you find your paper getting longer than two pages, try to summarize your points or remove facts that you do not believe are as critical to the prompt as others. If you need clarification on any of the points, feel free to write me about them. For these assignments, you will need to type them on your own computer and then upload your document to the website. The Files feature on an Assignment Submission page lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review, and grading. They are 40 points each (total=320).

    Quizzes and examinations
    Eight quizzes will be given throughout the course. The quizzes will reflect the cumulative lecture material and readings for that unit. Quizzes will be multiple choice and short answer (a few sentences to a paragraph). Students may use the textbook and any notes. Quizzes will address chapter readings, additional readings, and lectures. Your quiz is due by 12 noon in your time zone, on the last day of the unit, but may be completed earlier. Quizzes are worth 50 points each (total=400). NOTE: The quizzes are timed quizzes. Although the quizzes are open book and notebook, you really need to study ahead of time for these assessments. If you study ahead of time by reviewing your notes and the chapters covered, it will greatly expedite your quiz time on task. If you do not study ahead of time, you may have difficulty finishing the quiz in the time allotted. 

    A final exam will be given at the end of the semester that will draw heavily, but not exclusively, from the lesson quizzes; therefore, it is important for you to understand and commit the quiz material to memory. This exam will have a time limit and will be a closed book test to be taken online. You have only one opportunity to complete the exam. No proctor is required. As Living University students do not cheat, steal or lie, we rely on our students’ integrity during these examinations. The exam is worth 100 points.

    Grading                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A course grade will be determined A course grade will be determined based on the number of points a student has earned over the semester as follows:

    • Icebreaker Assignment (5 points)
    • Writing Assignments (eight, each worth 40 points, for a total of 320 points)
    • Discussions (class participation, total of 75 points)
    • Quizzes (eight, each worth 50 points, for a total of 400 points; online, open book]
    • Final Exam (100 points)
    • TOTAL 900 points

    Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 720 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have. We want this course to be competency-based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades. Mastery of the material is what one’s goal should be. Grades, assigned by points, are as follows:

    A 810-900 points
    B 720-809 points
    C 630-719 points
    D 540-629 points
    F Below 539 points

    Students With Disabilities
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

    Technology Access
    This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

    Course Evaluation
    Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

    Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
    It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.