The “curious” are above all people who experience “the Ionian Enchantment”: a sense of wonder in the face of the mathematically elegant, orderly web of natural causation that governs and unifies all phenomena, from particles to galaxies, from genes to memes. They experience a wonder in the face of the world that is held in tandem with an intellectual conviction that the material universe exhausts all reality. The natural world, being all there is, includes and encompasses human beings, whose thoughts and actions are ultimately constrained by the same physical laws governing fundamental particles. We humans are, of course, unique in that our behavior also demonstrates rationality, purposefulness, and the kinds of socially available meaning that we communicate through language and other cultural practices. The curious also take a critical view of humanity and place it within the framework of the natural world on our planet and throughout the entire universe.
About twenty years ago I found myself on an intellectual journey that was driven by the ionian enchantment. It was a journey through various areas of knowledge and different ways of knowing with a singular goal to stimulate thought. It allowed me to discover what it felt like to be a simple guy just trying making his way through this amazing universe. This journey provided a perspective on learning that is built on thinking for its own sake and it has allowed me an opportunity to use this thinking as my pedagogy.
For years I kept expanding what I taught. I started with Anthropology & Archaeology, then History & Information Technology, and then I arrived at Big History. Big History is an emerging academic discipline which examines history scientifically from the Big Bang to the present. It examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities, and explores human existence in the context of this bigger picture. It integrates studies of the cosmos, Earth, life and humanity using empirical evidence to explore cause-and-effect relations, and is taught at universities and secondary schools often using web-based interactive presentations.
Big History fit wonderfully within my view of education as a means to study the complexity of our universe as a tool for social entrepreneurs. The problems we face as humans in the 21st century are huge and in order to improve the quality of life on planet Earth we need a sense of scale and a cross-disciplinary approach that is often absent in education today. By combining Big History with human-centered design I now use this intellectual journey as a means to design both local and global solutions.