. . . .



The 2017 ISAA Annual Conference will be held at the National Library of Australia, Canberra on the theme of:

'Evolution, Activism and Social Change'

(It will be 100 years since the October Revolution in Russia)

Date: Thursday 12 October to Friday 13 October 2017

Further details will be announced in the ISAA National Newsletter


David Christian, Director of Big History Institute and Distinguished Professor in History, Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, Sydney

will present the ISAA Annual Lecture on

Thursday 12 October  5.30 – 6.30 pm at the National Library of Australia

on the theme of

‘The Russian Revolution in World History’


A ‘short’ biography for David reads like the career of several lifetimes of research and writing.

David Christian (D.Phil. Oxford, 1974) is by training a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, but since the 1980s he has become interested in World History on very large scales, or ‘Big History’. He taught at Macquarie University in Sydney from 1975 to 2000 before taking a position at San Diego State University in 2001.  In January 2009 he returned to Macquarie University.  From 2009 to 2013 he was a ‘World Class Universities Distinguished Professor’ at Ewha Womans University in Seoul; and over the same period, he has also held a position as a James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont.  He was founding President of the International Big History Association, and is co-founder with Bill Gates, of the Big History Project, which has built a free on-line high school syllabus in big history.  He is the Director of Macquarie University’s Big History Institute, and designer and lead teacher on Macquarie University’s MOOC in Big History.


David Christian has written on the social and material history of the 19th century Russian peasantry, in particular on aspects of diet and the role of alcohol. He has also written a textbook history of modern Russia, and a synoptic history of Inner Eurasia (Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia) up to the time of the Mongol Empire; the second volume of that history will be published in 2017. In 1989, he began teaching courses on 'Big History', surveying the past on the largest possible scales, including those of biology and astronomy; and in 2004, he published the first book-length study of Big History, Maps of Time, which won the World History Association prize for the best book on world history published in 2004He has also published a short history of humanity and, with Cynthia Brown and Craig Benjamin, has completed the first college-level textbook on big history.  In 2017, he will publish an account of big history as a modern origin story for a general readership.  At San Diego State University, he taught courses on World History, ‘Big History’, World Environmental History, Russian History, and the History of Inner Eurasia. He is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen [Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities], and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Cambridge History of the World. David Christian has given numerous talks and lectures on aspects of Russian, Inner Eurasian and world and big history, and in March 2011, he gave a talk on ‘13.7 billion years of history in 18 minutes’at the TED conference in Long Beach. 


Publications include:

1) David Christian, Cynthia Brown and Craig Benjamin, Big History: Between Nothing and Everything, 2013;

2) ‘The Return of Universal History’, History and Theory, Theme Issue, 49 (December 2010);

3) This Fleeting World, Berkshire Publishing: Great Barrington, Mass.: 2007. (A history of humanity in under 100 pages).4) Big History a set of 48 lectures for the Teaching Company, 2008. 5) Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. Foreword by W.H. McNeill, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. (The first modern attempt by a historian to offer a coherent history of the entire past, beginning with the origins of the Universe; an attempt to explore how human history is embedded in the histories of the biosphere and the Universe; Maps of Time won the 2005 WHA History Prize for the best book in world history published in 2004);

6) A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Vol 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire, in The Blackwell History of the World. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. (The first synoptic study of ‘Inner Eurasia’ from prehistory up to the 13th century; the first of 2 volumes.);

7) Imperial and Soviet Russia: Power, Privilege and the Challenge of Modernity.  Basingstoke and New York: Macmillan/St. Martin’s, 1997. (A textbook survey of Russian and Soviet history.); 8) Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation, OUP, 1990.

He has just completed the second volume of his History of Inner Eurasia. He is editor of The Cambridge World History, Volume I, Introducing World History (to 10,000 BCE), Cambridge: CUP, 2015.