SPARK Flossie Pack Center for Lifelong Learning

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Recorded | Discovering, Settling and Controlling the Pacific with Dr. Alan Perry – Winter 2022

Previously recorded class.


You will be sent the link to a private playlist of all recorded sessions of this class.


YouTube Only Recording – Recorded Winter 2022 – You will receive a link to a private playlist


No other body of water on earth comes close to equaling the sheer size of the Pacific, and no other area on earth that has been populated by humans was settled by overcoming such a challenge as met those who settled the Pacific islands. The course will open with a discussion of these Polynesian settlers, whom I believe to have been history’s greatest long-distance seafarers. Where did they come from? Why did they move into the Pacific? How far north, east (to South America?) and south (to Antarctica?) did they travel?

Then, beginning with the voyages of the Portuguese and Spanish in the 15th and 16th centuries, came the Europeans. There were many who have earned a place in history, including Magellan (of course) and William Dampier (a rare character in that he was both a pirate and a literary man) who circled the earth three times in 1679-1711; but there was also James Cook, whose three 18th-century exploratory and scientific voyages count among the most important in history. And of course these early European voyagers paved the way for European, and beginning at the end of the 19th century, American and Japanese imperialism.

We will look at some of those pioneering voyages, both those of the Polynesians and those of the Europeans. We’ll also glance briefly at other long-distance seafarers in human history, including the Norse, the Arabs, and the Chinese.
Who was Kupe? Who were the first Europeans to colonize the Pacific? Did the Chinese actually get there (and just about everywhere else) before the Europeans? Sign up for the class and find out. There will be some short, assigned readings, and hopefully many spirited discussion.

Instructor: Dr. Alan Perry shares with us his knowledge, experience and a life-long history enthusiasm. Dr. Perry graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand with degrees in history. He served over 15 years as Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and taught history at Park University in Kansas City. In addition to teaching history, he served as an Archivist for the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, the Virgin Islands and Kansas City.

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