'Big History' a movement spearheaded by the Oxford-educated maverick historian David Christian, is based on the idea that the academic study of the past can no longer be carried out from a nationalist perspective. Christian and his acolytes argue that the discipline will progress only once it charts human activity with a global scope, looking at chains of cause and effect that do not respect national borders. On a Big History course, the species Homo sapiens is not even mentioned until more than halfway through.
"I believe human beings mark a threshold in the development of the planet, of course," Christian has explained, "but it is only part of the picture. What Big History can do is show us the nature of our complexity and fragility and the dangers that face us, but it can also show us our power, with collective learning."