GUNS, GERMS & STEEL: Roots of Global Inequality


[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Wendi Fein



Why did the world become so unequal?  Why have some societies developed more quickly than others?  How come Europe conquered the Americas and not the other way around?  Help your students understand these essential questions by learning the theories that Jared Diamond presented his Pulitzer-prize winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel.   Professor Diamond dispels any ideas of racial inequality to claim that power has nothing to do with personal qualities, but with geographic advantages.  He expertly weaves geography and history to provide a clear picture as to why some countries have developed more quickly, enabling them to take over other, less-developed nations.  Using the PBS documentary based on the book and the accompanying website, you will gain a clear understanding of Diamond’s research and develop ways to apply his ideas in the classroom.  Additionally, students taking the course for 500 level will explore ideas from his latest book Collapse, on what causes societies to collapse.  This course is most appropriate to Grades 6-12 History or Geography teachers and World or Global Studies teachers.

There will be no additional fee for those with a Netflix subscription.  Otherwise, fee will vary with choice of video purchase or alternate book. 


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

Known how to engage students in the larger dynamics and questions behind history

  1. Understand that the layout of the continents, including their latitude and longitude, influenced societal development
  2. Understand that every culture has intelligence and ingenuity; racial differences do not determine the development of societies
  3. Understand that world power and domination can be traced back thousands of years to agricultural development
  4. Know that domestication of animals proved to be an important influence on global inequality
  5. Understand that disease proliferation and epidemics are intricately connected with geography and societal development

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



You will need high-speed (DSL) Internet access in order to easily view online resources. Some of the reading materials may be provided in the online course environment as PDF documents, a format readable by computers with Adobe Acrobat Reader. Materials required will be available online. There is an option to read the book Guns, Germs and Steel instead of watching the DVD. There will be no additional fee for those with a Netflix subscription. Otherwise, fee will vary with choice of video purchase or alternate book.

None. All reading is online.


Text, Guns, Germs and Steel, is approximately $9 from There will be no additional fee for those with a Netflix subscription. Otherwise, fee will vary with choice of video purchase or alternate book.


Wendi Fein, M.A., enthusiastically brings her years of teaching experiences since 1980 to the development and implementation of her courses. Presently, she is teaching Adult Education, Developmental Math and English as a Second Language at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma Washington.  

She spent 25 years teaching in K-12 public schools with a focus on special education, math, dance, PE, study skills and English/World Cultures. In addition, Wendi has traveled and volunteered extensively, bringing her stories and passion for human rights and equity into the classroom. Wendi holds a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Special Education.


GUNS, GERMS & STEEL: Roots of Global Inequality

Bennet, Deb.  Conquerors: The Roots of New World Horsemanship.

Diamond, Jared.  Collapse. (paperback edition). Penguin Books, 2006.  ISBN:  0140279512.

Diamond, Jared.  Guns, Germs, and Steel.  (paperback edition).  WW Norton and Co., 1999.  ISBN:  0393317552.

Guns, Germs, and Steel.  DVD.  National Geographic Video, 2005.

Harland, Jack.  The Living Fields:  Our Agricultural Heritage. Cambridge University Press, 1998.  ISBN:  0521649927.

Landes, David.  The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.  WW Norton and Co., 1999.  ISBN:  0393318885

Wallace, David, Director.  The Conquest of America.  DVD.  PBS video, 2001.

Wood, Michael.  Conquistadors (paperback version).  BBC, 2007.  ISBN:  0563487062

Resource list on the PBS Website: