European Big History Network

Big History in Europe

A short history of the network.

Most recent on top. Please scroll down for the beginning.

In September 2022 we could meet again in person in Coldigioco, Italy, this time in a hybrid format allowing some participants to zoom in. We looked back on the network’s work since that last in-person meeting in 2019, discussed new ideas and also looked forward to where we want to go. Paula Metallo presented her art work Dig History and she and Jesse Bos talked about the challenges of interdisciplinary work, followed by a general discussion of these challenges and how to address them. Fred Spier presented his recently published book “How the Biosphere works”. Esther Quaedackers introduced new ideas on how to structure big history for the purpose of doing a little big history research project. Sandro Montanari and Adalberto Codetta Raiteri presented a book on “Frasassi - The Little Big History of the Caves - Pedagogy, Earth, Life, Humanity” which is an example of the method of Local Big History. It is an open access book in Italian, free to be used by teachers. Constance van Hall and Joris Burmeister, the Netherlands, reported about their Local Big History cooperation with Fabian Anuchnik, Spain, with 15-16 year old students. Marina Porta presented a book by Giovanni Grieco, Andrea Giovanni Grieco, Anna Elisabetta Merlini, Marina Porta “The Science of Planet Earth - From the Big Bang to the Anthropocene”, also in Italian.
It was decided to keep the bimonthly zoom meetings in between in-person meetings and to reach out to big history researchers across the world.

In 2021 the network had to continue meeting digitally, but we did so more often in a fairly steady rhythm of once in two months. Individual members are encouraged to present their work followed by a discussion. This practice not only kept us up to date with what other members are doing, but also fostered members’ own lifelong big history learning, offering opportunities to exchange experiences with respect to Big History on a more regular basis. The bimonthly zoom meetings were continued into 2022.

In 2020 due to the Pandemic situation the network met via Zoom. The Erasmus+ teacher’s exchange between the Netherlands and Spain took place just before travelling in Europe became nearly impossible. The collaboration between the universities of Amsterdam, Milan and Aarhus on a course on Local Big History, that is adding a BH perspective to local histories and make students think about local identities versus global identities so that through big history they can see how the processes that all histories have in common have shaped their local histories, also took place. Discussed was the idea of having a bigger meeting to include scientists/academics interested in Big History, but not yet involved, and that could be useful for teachers and would give Big History a higher visibility.

In 2019 the network then met in Coldigioco, Marche (Italy) with 14 participants representing six European countries. With respect to Big History, Coldigioco is a special place, as here the foundation of the International Big History Association was laid in 2010. There will be a teacher’s exchange of Big History teachers in The Netherlands with Italy/Spain on an Erasmus+ grant in spring 2020. Ideas for making a book together were discussed. Esther Quaedacker (Asd) has obtained a Comenius grant for a course on Local Big History at the university level (universities of Amsterdam, Milan, and Aarhus work on that) in 2020. It was agreed that the network’s website will be redesigned.

In 2018 the network met again in Salas, Asturias (Spain) with 14 participants, representing six European countries. Participants agreed on a mission statement, the “Salas Statement” as shown on the HOME page. The network’s main line of activities were identified as Big History scientific literacy and/or education for students and the general public as well as Big History research. It was agreed upon that members want the network to grow organically and from a bottom-up approach.

Finally, in 2017, thanks to the initiative of Olga García Moreno and the generosity of the Fundación Valdés-Salas twelve participants, representing seven European countries were invited to Salas, Asturias (Spain) to discuss the feasibility of a European Network in more detail. Participants agreed that the network’s first aim is to create a platform for communication between members and that meetings will be held in Europe. The network does not aspire to become a formal part of the IBHA.

Already at the 2014 IBHA conference in San Rafael, California (USA) the idea of forming a European Big History group was suggested by some participants. 2 years later, at the 2016 IBHA conference in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) at the initiative of Jesse Bos it was discussed more seriously and about 20 conference participants expressed an interest.