Technologies that transformed humanity

Although we usually think of technology as unique to modern times, our prehistoric ancestors actually created primitive tools and weapons—the first human technologies—millions of years ago.

In this course, you will learn how the fashioning of weapons, the mastery of fire, and the invention of clothing and shelter led to revolutionary changes in the human body, enabling us to walk upright, shed our body hair, and triple the size of our brains. You will also learn how the invention of symbolism, agriculture, and technologies of transportation made the first civilizations possible, how the precision machinery of medieval times ultimately created the industrial revolution, and how digital communications are poised to transform human life once again. Finally, you will see how technology has brought humanity to the brink of an environmental catastrophe that might ultimately destroy human civilization.

   391 students completed this course

   98% recommend it to other students

   Teacher: Richard L. Currier, PhD


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98% of students recommend

“Great course! I learned many new things about human evolution and history.”

“I liked the input on when the subjugation of women began. The end slipped through a lot but seemed to sync with the acceleration of technology.”

“Great writing in itself, with compelling facts and theories(?) to make one think. Some seem at odds with other theories that have been proposed as to results of climate change, etc. Makes one want to sit down and have a discussion with the author. One of the best Highbrow courses we have taken!”


Course plan

Lesson 1. The Technologies of Apes and Monkeys
Lesson 2. The Technology of Spears and Digging Sticks
Lesson 3. The Technology of Fire
Lesson 4. The Technology of Clothing and Shelter
Lesson 5. The Technologies of Symbolic Communication
Lesson 6. The Technology of Agriculture
Lesson 7. The “Technologies of Interaction” and the Rise of Civilization
Lesson 8. The Technology of Precision Machinery
Lesson 9. The Technology of Digital Information
Lesson 10. Our World at the Brink
+ Quiz



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  • Format
    One lesson delivered via email daily
  • Duration
    10 days
  • Time
    5 minutes reading a day

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