About plans for teaching online during the corona virus pandemic

This page is a course guide and teaching supplement for my students at Seijo University, Tokyo, Japan. It is not a part of the official website of the university, as it contains information related only to my classes.

The syllabus listed below was made after the corona virus pandemic forced changes to be made in the original syllabus. Because the pandemic changed all of our plans, the course will be taught online with some changes made to the original plan. I hope to keep my teaching technology as simple as possible, but we will hold online classes during the scheduled class time (Monday 13:00-14:30).

Most of my teaching will be done by giving students assignments to watch videos, read articles and to prepare to discuss them in the next class. I will communicate with students through this website, the university's WebClass system, and email, or other methods. I will be available to communicate with students every Monday 13:00-14:30 (the usual class time) and other times, if necessary. The way to communicate will be flexible, depending on the students' access to computers, WiFi and so on. It is highly recommended that you use a computer rather than a smartphone or tablet for the online sessions. Some students graduate without ever having owned a computer, but it is not possible to do writing and research at an advanced level with small devices.

You have to check three things regularly:

1. This website

2. WebClass

3. Your university email account (studentnumber@u.seijo.ac.jp).



Special Topics IB “Cold Wars” and Contemporary History

Subtitle of the Course

Independence struggles of the post-World War II era.

Course Description           

In the first semester, the course covers how 18th and 19th century history up to World War I shaped the conflicts of the mid-20th century. It also covered the subsequent post-WWII world order in which the United States became the dominant global power. In the second semester we concentrate more on the various ways this world order has been resisted by emerging powers (Russia, China, and others), individuals, citizen groups, indigenous peoples, and large-scale independence movements. We will focus too on how the reaction to this resistance was fierce and often very effective.

Course Goals

The daily cycle of reporting in the mass media tells citizens about many urgent problems in the world: environmental destruction, financial crises, and conflicts over religion, ethnic identity and resources. However, for young people this news can be a flood of meaningless information because it is usually presented in short reports without historical context. In this course we will attempt to overcome this problem by uncovering how our contemporary world order has developed since the end of World War II.

Teaching Methods

During the fifteen sessions of the course we will take a regional approach to the subject, discussing some case studies of independence movements, histories of aboriginal peoples, and protest movements that envision a different sort of world order based on different economic and political systems. Another significant part of the course will be a study of events in the United States in the 1960s. This was a time when there was a strong reactionary war launched by the United States, both inside and outside the country, which had a significant impact on independence movements throughout the world.

Students will note that this topic is extremely broad. The choice to do general coverage of a broad topic will give students many options to study the specific aspects of the course that they want to cover in their final projects due at the end of the semester.

The final project consists of a research report recorded as a multi-media presentation. Students will write an original script and perform the narration for the presentation.

Course Schedule  

1. Review and presentation of projects submitted in the first semester. Assignment: Listen to the teacher’s recorded lecture about President Kennedy, Cuba and Indonesia in the 1960s.

2. Review and presentation of projects submitted in the first semester. Assignment: Finish listening to the teacher’s recorded lecture about President Kennedy, Cuba and Indonesia in the 1960s.

3. Discussion of the teacher’s recorded lecture about President Kennedy, Cuba and Indonesia in the 1960s.

4. Introduction to films and studies about the assassination of John Kennedy. Assignment: teacher’s recorded lecture.

5. Malcolm X: His life and theories about his assassination.

6. Martin Luther King Jr: His impact on US society, major speeches. Assignment: interview with William Pepper, author of The Plot to Kill King.

7. Robert F. Kennedy: Al Jazeera documentary on his life and his assassination.

8. Regime change in Indonesia: NBC Television’s 1967 documentary A Troubled Victory.

9. East Timor and Cambodia in the mid-1970s: A comparison from the film Manufacturing Consent.

10. Introduction to the films of Joshua Oppenheimer: The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence.

11. Discussion of the films of Joshua Oppenheimer: The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence.

12. West Papua’s colonization by Indonesia (1962, 1969) and the ongoing struggle for independence. Video: Jennifer Robinson tells the story of West Papuan leader Benny Wenda.

13. Independence case study: The Hawaiian Kingdom: overthrow, annexation, occupation.

14. Individual coaching on final projects.

15. Individual coaching on final projects. 

Self-study outside of Course Hours (Assignments, Preparation and Review etc.)

Students need to do assigned readings or film viewings each week and complete a research project.

Assessment Criteria and Methods      

Participation (30) Preparation for participation (30) Final project (40)

For the final project students will research one case of an independence struggle of the 20th or 21st century.


No textbook is required. Materials will be supplied by the teacher. Various readings and films will be assigned by the teacher.

Suggested Readings and Supplementary Materials         

Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone, The Untold History of the United States (Gallery Books, 2012), ISBN:1982102535, 1,788.

Students do not need to buy this book, but it is recommended as a useful resource. This book has been translated into Japanese and there are also abridged versions and a video documentary series based on the book.

Expectations for Enrolled Students 

A very high proficiency in English is not required, but students should have some ability to discuss the challenging topics covered in this course. Students will need more than the ability to do “daily conversation” and they will need to be seriously motivated to use and improve their English. Some of the students in this class may be native speakers of English, so non-native speakers of English should understand that this is not an English language training course.

If students have good attendance, complete assignments on time, do research, participate in class, make thoughtful contributions to discussions and complete the final project, they will succeed.

Method to Contact the Lecturer

riches[at]seijo.ac.jp or WebClass

Class website: http://www.themindseye.ca/kyotsu/kyotsu.html