SECTION 1 ACTIVE LEARNING ASSIGNMENT: Four Corners

European Exploration, Perception of the Other, and the Columbian Exchange

What factors contributed to the European interest in exploration?

In this activity, you will take a position arguing that a certain factor was most significant in motivating exploration by Europeans. The class will be broken up into four groups that will each go to one of the four corners of the room. Each group will be assigned one set of factors; include religious, economic, political, and other factors (which can include technological advances, access to information, overpopulation, etc). Using the sources in this section, each group should work together to try to find as many pieces of evidence that support their position as possible and keep a set of notes for the debate. The debate should begin with each group arguing for two minutes on the question “Why do you believe your particular factors were key to European exploration, what evidence supports your position?” After this, each group can respond to claims by opposing groups for up to a minute. Finally each group gets to close with concluding remarks for one minute. After all the ideas have been debated, as a class discuss ways in which all the factors were interconnected; for example, the loss of the Byzantine empire to the Turks inspired both religious and economic incentives for exploration. Can we reduce the explanation of exploration to just one factor?