Born to a mother who was kidnapped from her village to be a bride, Temüjin was said to have been born with a blood clot in his hand, a sign indicative of a great leader. Temüjin’s father, Yesügei, was the chief of his tribe, but died at the hands of his enemies when Temüjin was still a young boy. As a result, the tribe abandoned Temüjin and his family, leaving them vulnerable, unprotected, and with very low status.

Temüjin would rise from these humble beginnings to establish the largest land empire in history and would be known to the world as Chinggis Khan “Universal Ruler”.

With an unmatched level of strategic genius, Chinggis Khan would move against both Northern China and the Eastern Islamic world. Leaving both civilizations stunned and millions slaughtered. In one of the most violent outbursts in history, a little-known tribe of Eurasian nomads would break upon the great societies of the Old World like a tsunami. It may have ushered in the modern era, but at what cost?

This course will introduce learners to the social, cultural and political history of Medieval Central Eurasia, paying special attention to the quite regular, occasionally turbulent, but never dull interactions of pastoral-nomadic and sedentary peoples. Additionally, students will develop their critical thinking skills as they engage a wide variety of primary sources that offer valuable insights into Central Asian history.

This course will help students develop knowledge of how past events influence today’s society and help them:
1. Acquire a perspective on history and an understanding of the factors that shape human activity;
2. Critically discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Mongol World Empire’s military strategies and governmental systems;
3. Discuss in detail and with nuance the causes and effects of Mongol governance;
4. Engage others with diverse interpretations of past events in discussions about the nature of the Mongol World Empire; and
5. Relate in what ways the Mongol system validly anticipates modern political problems.

Polyhistoria classes emphasize critical thinking, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. We believe that students learn history best by doing what professional historians do.

(Read more about our approach to history.)

This class is taught in a cliffhanger storytelling style designed to increase effective observation and critical thinking skills and to encourage lots of learner interaction. We encourage rigorous (but not ad hominem) discourse, questioning textbooks and teachers alike, and tirelessly trying to improve what we do. We believe in creating a truly welcoming space, where learners can come together with understanding, dignity, and compassion, and where diverse backgrounds and life experiences are embraced.

Learning is not a spectator sport. Interaction and intellectual exchanges involving all students and the instructor enrich learning for all. Studying history involves an accumulation of knowledge about the past. But it also requires that we communicate that knowledge to others. You must be ready to share your views in class. A worthwhile course depends upon active participation by all students in class discussions.

The goal here is to advance an intelligent conversation from which we all learn. The most obvious way to do that is to say smart things and say them clearly. But that is not the only meaningful way to participate. Asking a question, connecting something already on the table to another thing, clarifying something that someone else has said, and offering evidence from the text under discussion are also all valuable. Bonus points are awarded for contributions that draw on what others have said. Other things to keep in mind: aim for clarity, keep in mind the value of an amicable classroom environment, and try not to monopolize the conversation.

1) Students’ cameras and microphones must be turned on during the class.
2) This class requires the continuous use of logical thinking & hypothetical reasoning skills to critically and creatively analyze the topics covered in the class. These cognitive functions are generally not sufficiently developed until a student is 13+ years old. Students must have the ability to think critically and logically to analyze the topics covered in the class.

1 hour per week in class, and an estimated 0 – 1 hours per week outside of class.

Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 13-17


Week 1
January 9

Week 2
January 16

Week 3
January 23

Week 4
January 30

Week 5
February 6

Week 6
February 13

Week 7
February 20

Week 8
February 27




Thrilled by the opportunity to teach cutting-edge social science scholarship to teenagers, I leapt at the opportunity to teach classes online. I enjoy old, rare books and gardening in Colorado, where even the incompetent can have beautiful roses. In addition to teaching and gardening, I remain actively involved in competitive sports, and you are cautioned not to wager against me at the ping-pong table.

I teach ancient languages, human & political world geography, history, philosophy, economics, political science …and anything else that catches my interest.


Feel free to send me an email at


Come hang out with me on Twitter for more tidbits of interesting research, linguistic curiosities, and forgotten history.