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This profile was last updated on 1/4/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Dr. Craig G.R. Benjamin

Wrong Dr. Craig G.R. Benjamin?

Professor

Local Address: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Grand Valley State University
1 Campus Dr. FH 97
Allendale , Michigan 49401
United States

Company Description: Grand Valley State University, established in 1960, is a four-year public university based in Allendale, Mich. It attracts more than 20,000 students with its high...   more
Background

Employment History

Education

  • Ph.D. , Ancient History
    Macquarie University
  • B.A. Honors
29 Total References
Web References
CFI Michigan | Past Events
www.cfimichigan.org, 6 April 2011 [cached]
Presented by Craig Benjamin, PhD, AssistantProfessor of History, Grand Valley State University
About the Speaker
A native of Australia, Craig earned his PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, and moved to Grand Rapids in 2003 to take up his position at GVSU. Dr. Benjamin's twin areas of academic specialization are ancient Central Asia and world history theory and practice. He is the author and editor of numerous published articles, chapters and books, and teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate history courses at Grand Valley.
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It was presented by Dr. Craig Benjamin, who is an assistant professor of history at Grand Valley State University. A native of Australia, Craig earned his PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, and moved to Grand Rapids in 2003 to take up his position at GVSU. Dr. Benjamin's twin areas of academic specialization are ancient Central Asia and world history theory and practice. He is the author and editor of numerous published articles, chapters and books, and teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate history courses at Grand Valley.
Most traditional history courses are about the study of different individuals, cultures, nations and eras, and of change in the human condition. But by breaking the vast span of history into smaller and smaller fragments, our understanding of the past has become fragmented and almost meaningless. In this presentation on Ultimate World History, Professor Benjamin attempts to construct a more unified account by bringing together many of the answers modern civilization has provided to the great questions from the past into a single coherent narrative. To do this, Ultimate World History looks at the past on the largest possible time scale, beginning with the origins of the universe, of stars and our planet, of life on Earth and the emergence of human beings, before considering the various types of human societies that have existed up to the present day, and the future of our species, planet and universe. Dr. Benjamin provided an insight into the theory and methodology of a new genre of history that attempts to cover the staggering timespan from the Big Bang to the Big Crunch in one interesting evening.
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Professor Benjamin spoke of his own transition from teaching more standard World History courses to Ultimate World History after his encounters with the aforementioned David Christian (who began teaching Big History in 1989) and fellow disciple (so to say), Marnie Hughes Warrington at the Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
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Christian wrote, and Dr. Benjamin echoed, that Big History helps us see familiar aspects of the past in unfamiliar ways.
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Professor Benjamin analogized the more conventional approach to World History to that of shining a flashlight beam on tiny pinpricks.
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Dr. Benjamin believes this would still be the optimal approach for instruction in such a multi-disciplinary course.
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Dr. Benjamin noted that while this progression leads to the building of powerful civilizations, it produces a more sedentary one as well with other consequences coming into play that their predecessors did not have to deal with.
Professor Benjamin noted the effect that travel has on a person.
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This writer, during this portion of Dr. Benjamin's presentation that examined our planet from space and how we regard it and the life sustained on it from this vantage point, thought of the late Carl Sagan and his book: Pale Blue Dot as well as the film by director Lawrence Kasdan: Grand Canyon.
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Man is wholly different from woman; tribes are disparate to the point where genocides are fine and dandy; humans are special and separate creations from all other animals-and each animal kind is created separately from all the rest; the Earth is not linked to the rest of space, etc. Space is a small place anyway in this sort of tale and even heaven may be attained by a good sized ladder (just be careful not to bump your head on the inverted bowl-shaped firmament!) Neither Professor David Christian in the writings I encountered nor Dr. Craig Benjamin in his presentation to us, discussed the relative paucity or merits of the various creation stories specifically, so these comments should not be associated with them.
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In fact, what Professor Benjamin did say was that he pushes absolutely no belief system or personal interpretation of the evidence provided. By the end of the 13-week course in Ultimate World History the student will have no idea what his own religious beliefs are.
His course is one in which the student does not require a prior college level historical background to be enrolled in it. In Western Michigan, he found that there is not only an impoverished grounding in large scale historical understanding among his students, but even a rudimentary comprehension of evolution (biological, let alone cosmological), so his course exposes many of them to all sorts of ideas that they were innocent of. He also mentioned that even though it is a Freshman course, he has older students as well who may have procrastinated until later, and only in order to meet their educational requirements. He noted that his own observation was that the older students were, in general, more conservative and less open to new ways of thinking about the matters that come up in the course than the younger students. For the older students, countenancing evolution and a naturalistic unfolding of processes throughout time and space, were concepts they came to with resistance. He also found that many of the West Michigan students he encountered already felt that they had all the answers to the Big Questions (based on their faith training).
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Dr. Benjamin discussed the work of Eric Chaisson (the author of Cosmic Evolution) where Chaisson showed the amount of energy (in ergs) that flows through a given mass (in grams) in a given time (in seconds) and how things may thereby be ranked as to their complexity.
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Another startling declaration that Dr. Benjamin made was that world populations have increased 1,000 times in 10,000 years, which has caused the total energy consumption to have increased by at least 60,000 times. Some critics of Ultimate World History are concerned that too much detail will be lost with such an expansive overview. But while Professor Benjamin allows that indeed some specifics go out of focus, others come into view-the larger underpinnings of events can now be seen, such as the significance of population pressures.
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Dr. Benjamin's approach is to make inquiries to get students to contemplate why events transpired as they did; to explore the connections and influences and then to be so armed as to better examine deeper patterns.
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One mental image Dr. Benjamin gave us to better understand distances (we are still cognitively not so far removed from our Pleistocene ancestors who had a highly provincial and local framework for viewing the universe) involved flying in a standard passenger jet plane and how it might take one about five hours to cross the US.
The World History Association (WHA)
www.thewha.org, 18 Jan 2015 [cached]
Craig Benjamin President History Department Grand Valley State University
CRAIG BENJAMIN, ...
www.InSightCruises.com, 2 June 2013 [cached]
CRAIG BENJAMIN, PH.D.
Craig Benjamin is an Associate Professor of History in the Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Prior to taking up an academic career, Craig was a professional musician and jazz educator for 25 years in Australia. After earning his Ph.D. from Macquarie University in 2003, Craig and his wife Pamela moved to Grand Rapids, Mich.
In addition to pursuing his academic and musical interests, Craig has also spent much of his life hiking and climbing in many of the great mountain ranges of the world, particularly in Europe, Africa, Australasia, and the Himalayas. At Grand Valley State, Craig teaches Big History, world history, ancient Central Asian history, and world history historiography. He has received several teaching awards at GVSU, including the 2009 Student Senate Award for Faculty Excellence.
Craig is a frequent presenter of lectures at conferences world wide, and the author of numerous published books, chapters and essays on ancient Central Asian history, Big History, and world history. With David Christian and Cynthia Brown, Craig has just completed the first ever Big History textbook - Big History: Between Nothing and Everything - which will be published by McGraw-Hill in August 2013.
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In addition to his many publications, Craig has recorded several television programs for the History Channel, and a 48-lecture series for The Teaching Company's Great Courses series titled The Foundations of Eastern Civilization. Craig is currently Vice-President of the World History Association (he will take up the Presidency in January 2014); and has been Treasurer of the International Big History Association since its inception in January 2011.
World History Association
www.thewha.org, 22 May 2013 [cached]
Craig Benjamin Vice President (President-Elect): History Department Grand Valley State University
Using his standard Big History ...
www.lanthorn.com, 29 Sept 2013 [cached]
Using his standard Big History approach to conceptualize humanity's place in the universe, Grand Valley State University professor Craig Benjamin put GVSU's community into context at Monday's annual award ceremony. APR 10
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