The Worldbuilding curriculum is the intellectual foundation of a global imaginary that transcends existing physical, political, and ideological boundaries. It seeks to respond to the question: what must all people know and how can we lay the groundwork for a new episteme of global future-flourishing. The curriculum draws from scholars whose work has emerged from a global, postcolonial, post-Western Enlightenment-centered experience and is situated within interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences. It examines several broad categories of investigation in order to outline, question, and develop deeper understandings of critical domains affecting the future of the world:
- Culture defines the complex and diverse structures, relationships, and meanings that govern individual and group human interaction, whose emergence in deep prehistory signified a major evolutionary milestone of the genus Homo.
- Communication comprises all forms of data and information flows, from the genetic code to the binary digit, as well as the media through which they have been transmitted and archived, past and present.
- Technics includes the total sum of skills, techniques, methods, and processes that have been used by humans to adapt to the environment, from the emergence of the genus Homo some 2.3 million years ago to the latest digital mechanisms and networks employed by humans in the present.
- Exchange encompasses the broad range of interactions between various life forms, vectors, and objects, including sentient and non-sentient actants, both as they have evolved on a planetary scale and as they exist in the cosmos.
- Ideas and Ideals traces the origins and development of the noosphere, the third stage of planetary evolution, from inanimate matter, AKA the geosphere, to the biological layer, AKA the biosphere, to the emergence of sentient beings, especially the human whose consciousness and environmental interventions — what geologist Peter Haff has termed the “technosphere” — have transformed the other two spheres to up to the current epoch, termed the Anthropocene, and whose impact on the environment threatens a new mass species extinction.
Adopting the ecosophy of Felix Guattari as a framing device, the Worldbuilding curriculum is intended to foster the following outcomes:
- A mental ecology that repairs the psychological damage that centuries of anthropocentric and colonalized subjectivities have had on individual consciousness and enables the potential to envision a sustainable, equitable future-flourishing across the globe.
- A social ecology that dismantles systems of oppression and exploitation, past and present, that have divided the planet and its inhabitants and depleted its resources and instead preserves ancient and contemporary wisdom and cultures and provides structures for an intersubjective future-flourishing that privileges no individual or community over another but harmonizes multilayered systems that respond to a multipolar set of concerns.
An environmental ecology that heals the metabolic rift with nature at the root of the current ecological crisis, which has been exacerbated by human intervention into the ecosystems of the planet and threatens to render it uninhabitable, and instead promotes a series of regenerative practices to ensure a future-flourishing for the environment that is sustainable and equitably distributed.
Worldbuilding Curriculum Module I – The Long Duree
Module I is the curriculum’s foundation, starting with the Earth’s material history (i.e, the geosphere), the emergence of life (i.e., the biosphere), and the emergence of hominids and the subsequent development of culture as part of the evolutionary process (i.e., the noosphere).
The Geological Time Scale (Geosphere, Biosphere, Noosphere)
|Hadean||4,540–4,000||The Earth is formed out of debris around the solar protoplanetary disk. There is no life. Temperatures are extremely hot, with frequent volcanic activity and hellish-looking environments (hence the eon’s name, which comes from Hades). The atmosphere is nebular. Possible early oceans or bodies of liquid water. The Moon is formed around this time probably due to a protoplanet’s collision into Earth.|
|Archean||4,000–2,500||Prokaryote life, the first form of life, emerges at the very beginning of this eon, in a process known as abiogenesis. The continents of Ur, Vaalbara and Kenorland may have existed around this time. The atmosphere is composed of volcanic and greenhouse gases.|
|Proterozoic||2,500–541||The name of this eon means “early life”. Eukaryotes, a more complex form of life, emerge, including some forms of multicellular organisms. Bacteria begin producing oxygen, shaping the third and current of Earth’s atmospheres. Plants, later animals and possibly earlier forms of fungi form around this time. The early and late phases of this eon may have undergone “Snowball Earth” periods, in which all of the planet suffered below-zero temperatures. The early continents of Columbia, Rodinia and Pannotia, in that order, may have existed in this eon.|
|Phanerozoic||541–present||Complex life, including vertebrates, begin to dominate the Earth’s ocean in a process known as the Cambrian explosion. Pangaea forms and later dissolves into Laurasia and Gondwana, which in turn dissolve into the current continents. Gradually, life expands to land and familiar forms of plants, animals and fungi begin appearing, including annelids, insects and reptiles, hence the eon’s name, which means “visible life”. Several mass extinctions occur, among which birds, the descendants of non-avian dinosaurs, and more recently mammals emerge. Modern animals—including humans—evolve at the most recent phases of this eon.|
The Five Great Mass Extinctions
The Sixth Mass Extinction?
- Lower Paleolithic (3 million – 300,000 BCE): The emergence of homo erectus
- Middle Paleolithic (300,000 – 50,000 BCE): The emergence of homo sapiens
- Upper Paleolithic (50,000 – 12,000 BCE): The emergence of behaviors and technological innovations that constitute the cognitive and cultural foundations of modern humans
- Epipaleolithic (20,000 – 10,000 BCE): Prehistory of the Levant (Middle East): Hunter-gatherer societies, rudimentary stone tools, nomadic
- Mesopaleolithic (20,000 – 8,000 BCE): Prehistory of Southeast Asia and Europe: Hunter-gatherer societies, use of pottery and textiles
- “The Cradle of Civilization” (10,000 – 4500 BCE): Introduction of farming and domesticated animals, refinement of tools, built structures
- Calcolithic (Copper Age): Technological development of metallurgy, barbarian tribes
- Discovery of alloys, protowriting, development of governance systems
- Development of iron and steel tools and weaponry, written language systems, beginnings of the historical record
Worldbuilding Curriculum Module II – World History
Module II builds on the foundation of Module I to trace the development of human culture and its articulations across space and time. It begins by recapping the advancements of humankind in the Bronze and Iron Ages and then surveys the development of world cultures in antiquity. It subsequently investigates what Michel Foucault terms “a history of the present” in the form of a genealogy of diverse human cultures leading to the emergence of a global imaginary.
The Ancient World
- Fertile Crescent
- Akkadian Empire
- Ancient Egypt
- Minoa and Mycenae (2000 – 1100 BCE)
- Ancient Greece and Rome
- Land of Punt
- Tribal confederations and ancient states: the Xiongnu, Scythia, Cimmeria, Sarmatia, Hunnic Empire, Chorasmia, Transoxiana, Sogdiana, Xianbei
- Indus Valley Civilization
- Mahajanapadas Kingdoms
- Maurya Empire
- Norte Chico
- Dhar Tichitt
- Ghanian Empire
- Taruma Kingdom
Post Classical (500 – 1500 CE)
- East Asia
- South Asia
- Southeast Asia
- East Asia
- South Asia
- Southeast Asia
- East Asia
- South Asia
- Southeast Asia
Worldbuilding Curriculum Module III – Categorical Studies
Modules I and II of the Worldbuilding curriculum provide a foundational understanding of world history, the former in terms of the planet’s physical evolution and the latter in terms of the development of humankind’s emergence and ultimate dominion over it via the system of interventions geologist Peter Haff terms the “technospere.”. The third module of the Worldbuilding curriculum investigates broad categories that lay the groundwork for imagining a new episteme of global future-flourishing.
THE CONCEPT OF CULTURE
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Dipesh Chakrabarty “The Anthropocene and Historical Time” https://vimeo.com/551628982
Social Research vol 88(1) panel on The Commons https://vimeo.com/event/1050271