Rethinking the rise of the West: The Great Divergence Debate


Konstantin Georgidis, Canterbury School, Ft. Myers, Florida


Class Activities: Comparing and Contrasting Points of View
Web Sources
Lesson Plan(PDF)

China and Europe, 1500-2000 and Beyond: What is "Modern"?

Teachers’ Guide with Study Questions: China and Europe, 1500-2000


Rethinking the rise of the West: The Great Divergence Debate

Rethinking the rise of the West: Global Commodities

Standards of Modernity – China and Europe

Parallels in England and the Yangzi Basin of China in the 1800s


Instructional Objectives

  1. Identify the different ways historians have tried to explain the rise of the West.
  2. Explain what is meant by the term "world systems theory" and how world systems operate.
  3. Compare the basic issues in the debate on the great divergence between East and West which have become the focus of the historical research of the following scholars: David Landes, Andre Gunder Frank, Bin Wong, Kenneth Pomeranz, Peer Vries and Philip C. C. Huang.
  4. Identify and explain the kinds of evidence and arguments which are being used by opposing sides in this debate.
  5. Trace how historians’ changing views of the rise of the West in the last 25 years illustrate the dynamic nature of the discipline of history.