A Brief History of Humankind

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10/10 stars
based on  33 reviews
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Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4637 reviews

Course Description

About 2 million years ago our human ancestors were insignificant animals living in a corner of Africa. Their impact on the world was no greater than that of gorillas, zebras, or chickens. Today humans are spread all over the world, and they are the most important animal around. The very future of life on Earth depends on the ideas and behavior of our species. This course will explain how we humans have conquered planet Earth, and how we have changed our environment, our societies, and our own bodies and minds. The aim of the course is to give students a brief but complete overview of history, from the Stone Age to the age of capitalism and genetic engineering. The course invites us to question the basic narratives of our world. Its conclusions are enlightening and at times provocative. For example: · We rule the world because we are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our own imagination, such as... About 2 million years ago our human ancestors were insignificant animals living in a corner of Africa. Their impact on the world was no greater than that of gorillas, zebras, or chickens. Today humans are spread all over the world, and they are the most important animal around. The very future of life on Earth depends on the ideas and behavior of our species. This course will explain how we humans have conquered planet Earth, and how we have changed our environment, our societies, and our own bodies and minds. The aim of the course is to give students a brief but complete overview of history, from the Stone Age to the age of capitalism and genetic engineering. The course invites us to question the basic narratives of our world. Its conclusions are enlightening and at times provocative. For example: · We rule the world because we are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights. · Humans are ecological serial killers – even with stone-age tools, our ancestors wiped out half the planet's large terrestrial mammals well before the advent of agriculture. · The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud – wheat domesticated Sapiens_ _rather than the other way around. · Money is the most universal and pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised. Money is the only thing everyone trusts. · Empire is the most successful political system humans have invented, and our present era of anti-imperial sentiment is probably a short-lived aberration. · Capitalism is a religion rather than just an economic theory – and it is the most successful religion to date. · The treatment of animals in modern agriculture may turn out to be the worst crime in history. · We are far more powerful than our ancestors, but we aren’t much happier. · Humans will soon disappear. With the help of novel technologies, within a few centuries or even decades, Humans will upgrade themselves into completely different beings, enjoying godlike qualities and abilities. History began when humans invented gods – and will end when humans become gods.
Reviews 10/10 stars
33 Reviews for A Brief History of Humankind

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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Keith Solademi profile image
Keith Solademi profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 0 reviews
  • 0 completed
1 year, 7 months ago
Extremely though-provoking and exciting. Changed the way I think about myself and the world. I wish I had encountered this material earlier in my life.
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Leda Oliveira profile image
Leda Oliveira profile image
10/10 starsDropped
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
2 years, 6 months ago
The course explain a lot of subjects from history clear and easily. It´s very simple. The instructor shlws he knos a lot about what he explain and it transmit confidence for me.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 7 months ago
This course was one of the best i have ever taken whether online or offline. Original thoughts are given in a very clear way. I've received a lot of new ideas and knowledge and a lot of pleasure.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 8 months ago
This course was fantastic. Well worth doing. It's extremely interesting content and exceptionally well presented to keep it engaging throughout the course. Also well worth buying his book.
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 profile image
 profile image

10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
Only for the open minded! Dr. Harari takes us on a journey in time not only through world history but also explains to us the facts of our godless existence. Take it or leave it! I took it.
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Zbyněk Zajíc profile image
Zbyněk Zajíc profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 18 reviews
  • 18 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
Perfect course, very interesting and entertaining - for me with technical education and without any information from this field. The instructor was inspiring, only absence of presentation on the screen instead of pictures.
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Ivan Nedjalkov profile image
Ivan Nedjalkov profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
This course is so amazing, that I took it twice (didn't get the certificate the first time). I even bought the book, and occasionally re-read passages from time to time, hearing Prof. Harari's voice. The lectures flow so smoothly, no death by power point or montonous reading. This is one of the MOOCs that set the bar for quality of production and delivery (for myself at least).
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Mikhail Usachev profile image
Mikhail Usachev profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 4 months ago
Great course! It was enlightening for me, because instructor's point of view is different from points, that i saw in school or university. Course describes not single events in history but trends.
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Priscila Guimarães profile image
Priscila Guimarães profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 11 reviews
  • 10 completed
3 years, 10 months ago
I've studied about many of these topics in school, but it was not presented in such a fascinating way. There's also lots of details I didn't see in school. What I liked the most about this course was that it don't simply present the content, but also relates to our present. By studying it we can understand why and how we have today's world. We can understand better people behavior and actions. I know it might seems to be a little cliche, but this time is 100% serious: It really will broaden your vision of the world.
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Ismael Carballo profile image
Ismael Carballo profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years ago
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timothy235 profile image
timothy235 profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 12 reviews
  • 10 completed
3 years, 10 months ago
Utterly fasincating. A great story very well told. History is not my thing but I really looked forward to hearing the new lectures every week. Whatever your politics or religion this bird's eye view of our history as we know it will be challenging and entertaining.
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Jaume Valls Altadill profile image
Jaume Valls Altadill profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 4 reviews
  • 4 completed
4 years, 3 months ago
What could I say about this course? It's excepcional. I am not able to complete due time. Dr.Harari has a black humor, a he's extremely exceptic. His points of some questions are highly controversial, but he makes us think. I am going to buy a book, that is a compilation of the course. The video lectures are so, so, so long. +more than 2 hours per week. Forum is sometimes polluted with tele-predicators, but the most of time are incredible. If you want to know the spread of humankind and our future if we had future, then attend to this course. One awesome thing that I learned It's that the spread of homo- sapiens was a caused of mass animal extinctions. Another awsome thing it's that homo-sapines possibily committed holocaust to nearthdental. You travel from suprise to surprise.
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Agnius Balabonas profile image
Agnius Balabonas profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
I took the course just to try out, didn't actually plan on taking the entire course, but the material was presented in such an interesting way, that I remember looking forward to new lectures. The course also had a  very logical structure which I appreciated. I would however have enjoyed more interactive materials. But given how short the course was and the scale of the subject it's not something I can complain about.
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Jimmy Tyrrell profile image
Jimmy Tyrrell profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
I took this course the first time it was offered, in Winter of 2013. I was happy that the course was centered mainly on the lectures, and that there were no writing assignments. I usually only join a course when I know I will be able to review all of the material and complete all of the assignments, so it suited me that I could get through this one despite having a busy work schedule. I will be happy to take it again and see what changes Dr. Harari has made to the structure and content.
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Edward Bobinchak profile image
Edward Bobinchak profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 4 reviews
  • 4 completed
4 years, 6 months ago
Well done exploration of "Big History." Very thought provoking and informative. I like this approach of looking at major changes/dynamics in history, but at the same time, not claiming absolute "truth." In the end, all of history is a "story" that we tell about ourselves and it is helpful to learn from a consistent approach that is well presented.
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Ilan Aisic profile image
Ilan Aisic profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
4 years, 7 months ago
An extremely interesting course! Gave me a completely different outlook on history and on us humans and a lot of food for thought!
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Frayda Glass profile image
Frayda Glass profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
4 years, 7 months ago
I love history courses, but this was unlike any history I have taken before! It was a composite of Anthropology, Evolutionary Psychology, History, etc. So you are looking at wide swaths of human history from several vantage points, for which most history courses devoted to specific locations or time periods have no time. From these vantage points, human history takes on a new and exciting progression. Professor Yuval Harari is opening a whole new, and very exciting way to look at human history in this course.
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Georganne D'Angelo profile image
Georganne D'Angelo profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 7 months ago
A fascinating course. If you ever get a chance to take it, this guy pulls history together in a creative way and sometimes turns our assumptions on their heads. Truly a history of humankind, not a history of events.
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Caravaka profile image
Caravaka profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 11 months ago
Not a student of History. Never intended to do this course. Just enrolled in this one like the many others. The first week itself had me hooked. The unbelievable thing is that the Prof. managed to hold my attention for the entire length of his lecture and for 17 weeks, that too! Definitely recommended for anyone interested in learning more about the human condition. This is mainly a course in Anthropology rather than History. Workload is barely 2 hours per week. Excellent for those who have full time jobs or studies. Every lecture is provocative and sometimes disturbing.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

9/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 9 months ago
Excellent presenter and content, particularly appreciate up to date research information and transparency of political position of presenter.
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Ivo Fernandes profile image
Ivo Fernandes profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 15 reviews
  • 9 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Great speaker, and great ideias about the possible path that the humankind did to get here. It's a really multidisciplinary course
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vaggelas profile image
vaggelas profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 28 reviews
  • 26 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Great Course.A history course about Humankind.Maybe it is kind of long for a Mooc,maybe the video lectures are way over the 10min which is the Mooc's standard(30 mins each usually),maybe the graphics are poor but this course is so good and addictive that you really don't care.Very good Course,great Professor.
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Marlene Stern profile image
Marlene Stern profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
This was an amazing course! Each week I looked forward to the new lesson and was never disappointed. Each of the lessons' segments was captivating and thought provoking. Just sitting in his upholstered chair with some visual aids to the right of him; and yet I was completely engaged. Certainly, the material is fascinating, but just as important (maybe more) is Dr. Harari's talent as a lecturer. He made the Brief History of Humankind compelling.
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irlmaks profile image
irlmaks profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Off the multiple courses I have completed on coursera, this is still the only course for which I eagerly waited each and every week for the video lectures to be released. The gives a fantastically new perspective of the world that we live in. Don't miss this ride.
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Ricardo Teixeira profile image
Ricardo Teixeira profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 86 reviews
  • 77 completed
4 years, 12 months ago
Where can we start with this course? What a journey! Seventeen (!!) weeks of story-telling, covering the past, present and future of Humankind. There are so many lectures and chapters that I cannot really single out particular aspects. The strongest and most flattering claim I can make about this course is that, despite its length, it provides a completely clear and consistent view of Humanity. It's quite an achievement, to take on such an ambitious enterprise as to explain everything, and spectacularly succeed. Of course, one viewpoint may be consistent and convincing but that does not make it true. I personally disagreed, in some cases strongly, with the positions and theories mentioned by the lecturer. His view of farming as the "enslavement of animals", for example, is dangerously close to a form of post-modern animism very popular in some "green" circles, but it's hardly defensible. But the truth value of each particular fact or... Where can we start with this course? What a journey! Seventeen (!!) weeks of story-telling, covering the past, present and future of Humankind. There are so many lectures and chapters that I cannot really single out particular aspects. The strongest and most flattering claim I can make about this course is that, despite its length, it provides a completely clear and consistent view of Humanity. It's quite an achievement, to take on such an ambitious enterprise as to explain everything, and spectacularly succeed. Of course, one viewpoint may be consistent and convincing but that does not make it true. I personally disagreed, in some cases strongly, with the positions and theories mentioned by the lecturer. His view of farming as the "enslavement of animals", for example, is dangerously close to a form of post-modern animism very popular in some "green" circles, but it's hardly defensible. But the truth value of each particular fact or theory in such a long course doesn't matter at all. As we're told in the final lecture, his objective is not that we start spreading his views as gospel; his objective is to make us think about phenomena and events as a whole, since we're so used to compartmentalizing and having only fragmented views. His success, he states, is measured by his ability to make us think about these issues, and to make sure that we will not be the same again after taking the course. He succeeded magnificently.
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Ryan Petersen profile image
Ryan Petersen profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 1 month ago
A phenomenal course that provides one of the most coherent narratives for how and why humans and our societies came to be.
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Andrew Berchuck profile image
Andrew Berchuck profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 12 months ago
I just finished this spectacular course. Professor Harari is an incredibly engaging speaker. It became clear immediately that I better take notes that could be reviewed later in order to digest the revelations in each segment. This course is a 'tour de force" that provides an illuminating perspective of the history of the human race through a synthesis of biology, evolution, history, economics, politics, religion, psychology and more. This course was a gift that gave me a profound and uplifting sense of the basis for the 'human condition' we all share.
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sam tan profile image
sam tan profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 33 reviews
  • 31 completed
5 years ago
Dr. Harari delivers a set of highly approachable and very provocative lectures that should blow most peoples minds away...and i'm not even exaggerating. Even though this MOOC runs for a much longer time (4 months) than the average one, it is well worth your time as you will not view humankind in the same perspective again.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
5 years ago
IMHO, this is a profoundly engaging course in which Dr. Harari miraculously draws together many threats from numerous disciplines into a fascinating story of humankind. He has provided plausible explanations for the genesis of many things that we now take for granted. Certainly, some of his observations and theories may be controversial and unorthodox. All the better. BTW, I've persuaded 3 friends to take this course. All of us are hooked.
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Marjan Ček profile image
Marjan Ček profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 20 reviews
  • 17 completed
4 years, 11 months ago
Don't be fooled by the title. There is of course history, but you'll get also evolutionary biology, psychology, and more, from a point of view not just for humanities. The course opens your mind to question yourself all pre- conceptions by studying the history but also the drivers of humankind in order to abstract yourself from present concepts we take for granted. Biological, religious, and moral convictions are studied with the main changes in the path of humanity in a very intuitive and intelligent way. The professor also presents several points of view, trying to make you think, investigate and make up your own. The course is very easygoing, with no written assignments and very simple exams making it more like the Carl Sagan TV series of human history.
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