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Western Civilization Courses

Take free online courses in European history, western civilization and more from top universities and institutions.

learn western civilization

learn western civilization

What is Western Civilization?

The term Western Civilization refers broadly to a constellation of customs, beliefs, political systems, and events rooted in European history and Western culture. The influence of Western Civilization is global; defining American culture and North American culture among others.

The written history of Western Civilization begins in the Greco Roman period where philosophers including Plato, Socrates and Aristotle would lay the groundwork for all Western philosophical thought.

Western Civilization was further promoted by Judeo-Christian movements and values, which took hold across Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire and entering into the Middle Ages.

From there, through the clash of civilizations, and as a result of campaigns of conquest carried out by successive European empires, Western Civilization spread even further, setting the course for its global domination at the turn of the century.

Defining moments in Western Civilization that you will find discussed in just about any Western Civilization textbook include the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Scientific Revolution, and the development of Liberal Democracy.

People who study Western Civilization find rewarding careers teaching social science in secondary schools or as college-level professors. The study of the history of Western Civilization also offers insight into the post-colonial decline of Western Civilization following WWI, and a more critical understanding of the inequalities and biases central to evaluating the growth of Western Civilization.

Like all history studies, the study of Western Civilization equips its students with critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and strong written and verbal communication skills.

Online Courses in Western Civilization

Coursework in Western Civilization covers a wide range of subject matter.

Currently offered at Tsinghua, the course Plato, Socrates, and the Birth of Western Philosophy, teaches the origins and development of Western societies, institutions, and thought from the ancient world through the Middle Ages.

The Arizona State University course, Western Civilization: Ancient and Medieval Europe Learn, teaches the origins and development of Western societies and institutions from the ancient world through the Middle Ages. This course is also part of Global Freshman Academy (GFA), which means students can earn transferable ASU credit toward a college degree.

You can also examine the role violence has played in the rise of Western Civilization by taking a course currently offered by the University of Newcastle Australia. A History of Violence examines the origins, changing nature, uses, and attitudes towards human violence in western history.

If you’re more interested in how Westernization has impacted other cultures, consider taking the MIT/Harvard course, Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, and Modernity. There you’ll explore themes of Westernization and Japan’s transition into the modern world.

Jobs in Western Civilization

Like many liberal arts degrees, a background in Western Civilization can be applied to a wide array of professional interests.

The written and verbal communication skills gained by studying Western Civilization lend themselves to career opportunities in writing, editing, and research for popular media or in academia. A strong Western Civilization background can similarly lead to a career in broadcast journalism.

If you’re more interested in education, studying Western Civilization gives you a competitive advantage for pursuing dozens of positions currently available on under “Western Civilization Jobs.” The majority of those positions are full-time, part-time or adjunct professor positions at colleges and universities, and as social science teachers at high schools across the country.

65 of those positions listed offer salaries upwards of $40,000 and 37 seek entry-level applicants.

Pursue a Career in Western Civilization

Learn more about how the Western world developed and how cultural movements, tragedies, and triumphs have shaped the globalized and Westernized worlds we live in today. Sign up for classes in Western Civilization and prepare yourself for a career that engages in critical dialogue with the past and the present!