Tutor profile: Brittany R.
Subject: World Geography
How are the political boundaries of Africa and the Middle East similar to each other, and why are those boundaries an issue?
When examining maps of Africa and the Middle East prior to 1900, one will notice a significant difference between those and the maps of today. This is due to the fact that a majority of the political boundaries in Africa and the Middle East were established by European Imperialists after military conquests. Very few Europeans ventured far into Africa prior to the 1700s. As their military, medical, and transportation abilities advanced, so too did their willingness to venture further into Africa. As more and more Europeans began to claim land in Africa, others jumped on the bandwagon and created the "Scramble for Africa," which resulted in nearly every region in Africa being claimed by a European power by 1900. The boundaries they drew for themselves to outline their claims were artificial and did not take into account the ethnic, religious, or physical features of the land they occupied. Prior to World War I, a significant portion of the Middle East was under the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans sided with Germany during WWI and thus were on the losing end of the war in 1918. The victors, namely Britain and France, took it upon themselves to create mandates and territories, dividing up the former Ottoman empire between them into territories that they controlled. A significant portion of the political borders in the modern Middle East are a remnant of these divisions. Unfortunately, as European powers took control of both areas, they did not consider the cultural makeup of the people and regions they created. Some countries included two ethnic or religious groups with a history of conflict, but they were now required to "get along" in the same country. On the flip side, there were some boundaries that divided cultural groups, separating them into two different countries. Europeans either created and ran governments themselves or hand selected the cultural/ethnic group that they wanted in power. After World War II, many European countries lacked the resources, both financial and military, to maintain such large overseas empires. Many packed up and left, leaving countries full of people who either did not get along or who resented each other due to the privileges given to one group. When looking at Africa and the Middle East, many wonder, "Why is it such a mess over there?" The reality is that the situation they were handed was setting them up to fail. The borders created by European powers were artificial--not aligned with any characteristics of the regions themselves, and this has resulted in countless political tumults and upheavals that the regions still experience today.
Subject: World History
What person do you think had the biggest impact (either positive OR negative) on world history? Provide three specific reasons for your answer.
While many people throughout history have significantly and radically altered the eras after, there is one person whose impact is difficult to surpass. When Johann Gutenberg developed the European version of moveable type--the printing press--the world was forever changed. His innovation arguably led to religious upheaval, the education of the masses, and eventually significant and rapid scientific innovations. European religion was significantly alerted by Gutenberg's press. Luther's 95 Theses, detailing the abuses of the Catholic Church at the time, were nailed to a church door. Others copied his message with the device, and his message spread quickly, gaining many followers and much momentum and certainly going beyond Luther's original intent. The church's reaction to this development eventually resulted in the Protestant Reformation and the permanent split between the two Christian groups. This led many to question traditional teachings and church hierarchy, to years of religious wars, and to significant cultural changes that are still felt today in many countries, including the United States. The printing press also resulted in mass-produced prints and books, which were cheaper and faster than hand-written copies of works. This meant that more people could afford to buy written works. As more people had access to books, the more they learned, and the more educated the population became. This resulted in more questioning of authority and more innovation in many areas, including art, science, math, and literature, as well as politics and rule of law, which would show itself in the Enlightenment. Finally, as a result of people's increased knowledge and access to learning, it was easier for people to build on each other's discoveries and knowledge, especially in the area of science. In the 1500s, people still believed the sun revolved around the earth. By the end of the 1700s, there were vaccines, thermometers, barometers, microscopes, an understanding of human anatomy, the scientific method, and an understanding of microorganisms. The printing press seems now like a simple object. However, the power it created in those who took advantage of its products is unmeasurable. Many of the changes and innovations we enjoy today are a result of this impact of Johann Gutenberg.
Subject: US History
Why are the 1960s considered one of the most tumultuous eras of U.S. history?
The 1960s can be considered one of the more tumultuous eras of U.S. history because it was an era of great upheaval and change. The Vietnam War, changes in women's roles, the Civil Rights movement, and the assassination of several leaders resulted in a time of uncertainty and social revolution. The Vietnam War was the first truly televised war, and people were able to see the up close reality of what war was like for those involved, which included great loss of life. This turned many against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, especially after it became known that presidents and advisors were not truthful about U.S. involvement and the reasons for it. This resulted in many protests and was a significant part of the counterculture, or "hippie", movement focused on peace and love. It also resulted in a great distrust of the American government, as well as resentment from those who were drafted and did not want to participate. Secondly, major changes in culture occurred during this time, one of them being the shift toward increasing opportunities for women in the workforce. Prior to this time, women's roles were centered on the home and children. As baby boomers, the children of WWII-era parents, grew older, they resented the stagnancy of typical 1950s roles and lifestyles. Many women demanded better opportunities in the workforce, as well as better-paying jobs. This resulted in much backlash from the older generation, as well as from businessmen and executives who were used to men occupying all higher positions. The Civil Rights movement culminated in the heart of the 1960s with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the conflict between black and white remained throughout the decade as African Americans voiced and acted upon their desire for equal treatment, and many whites retaliated with actions ranging from harsh words to extreme violence and killing. The 1960s is dotted with watershed moments of conflict in the Civil Rights fight as people showed their willingness to sacrifice their safety to achieve these rights for all. Finally, several major leaders with significant followings were assassinated throughout the 1960s. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy were all rising and popular leaders. JFK and MLK were both at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, and Robert Kennedy was an up and coming democratic candidate that many thought would win the presidential election. When each of these was killed, it sent the nation into mourning and shock, especially by Robert Kennedy's assassination in 1968. By that time, political assassinations were a repeated event. The 1960s was composed of many unexpected developments and many stark changes compared to previous generations. This resulted in a time of upheaval, as old culture met new culture and as both attempted to exert their dominance.
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