“What’s Inside”: Hullo, my name is Dr. Bernard Carpenter and I am honored to be your instructor for a course that covers one of the greatest tragedies in human history: I refer, of course, to the First World War, or, as it was known until the even more destructive Second World War, the Great War. Also called World War I, it is a subject very close to my heart, all the more so in this commemorative year. Growing up in England during the 1960s, I well remember elderly gentlemen reminiscing about the Great War, and both my parents were old enough to remember what they sometimes called the “14-18 War,” feeding my boyish imagination with inspiring images of young men leaving for the front. Tragically, far too many of those young men failed to return. Indeed, the war’s impact on the country of my birth is hard to overstate, but it was the same for European civilization in general. Although I hesitate to use language that might seem overblown, I feel compelled, nevertheless, to cite the American diplomat George Kennan who saw World War I as the seminal catastrophe of modern times, “the event which,” he believed, “lay at the heart of the failure and decline of this Western civilization." Now, if you choose to take this course, and I sincerely hope you do, you will learn more about this seminal event than in any other course of this type. Indeed, as the world prepares to commemorate the Great War’s centenary, I feel obligated to do justice to an event that degraded a civilization and continues to shape our world today.
In this first section you will learn about the context of the time period leading up to 1914. What was the attitude of Europeans during this period?
A discussion of the underlying causes that led to the greatest war the world had ever seen.
Dr. Bernard Carpenter grew up in the United Kingdom and taught history at Providence Academy for nine years. For six of those years he served as chairman of the History Department. He received a Ph.D. in Modern European History from Boston College, where he also taught a variety of history survey courses and upper level classes for history majors. During his twenty-year teaching career, he has also worked as a private tutor and taught at several public and private universities and colleges, including Wheaton College, and most recently the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. He am currently teaching the history of the Catholic Church in the permanent diaconate program for the Diocese of Duluth. Whilst at Providence, He designed the curriculum for ninth- and twelfth-grade history, and is at present writing accompanying e-textbooks and filming complementary lectures for a projected online course for Providence eLearning.