CLAS Summer Institute for Teachers

"Empire to Empire: The Americas in the Age of Exploration"

July 14-16, 2008

Gallo Gallina, The Encounter Between Hernando Cortes and Montezuma II, from
"Le Costume Ancien Et Moderne."
Other resources

Recommended Websites

 “A Concise History of the Development of the Square-Rigged Ship: From the Carrack to the Full-Rigger”

This website includes informative drawings and descriptions of different types of ships as they progress in technology, efficiency and complexity.

“The Age of Exploration,” by the Mariner’s Museum.

A great resource featuring background information, timelines, maps and biographies of explorers from ancient times through Captain Cook.

“The Age of Exploration,” in the online journal History Now.

This site includes essays on different aspects of the Age of Exploration as well as five rare maps that show the European’s growing geographical understanding of the Americas.


“Visions of History: The Aztecs and the Spanish.” Published in 1996 by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). Available at

This curriculum unit focuses on the encounter between the Aztecs and the Spaniards and addresses the question, “How is history constructed?”

Recommended Films

The following is a list of recommended films on topics related to the workshop. This list is by no means comprehensive. It merely reflects films I screened for the workshop. I am including it because there is a lot of not-so-great stuff out there.

Ancient Civilizations

“Cracking the Maya Code” (2008)

This films traces progress in the 200-year quest to decipher Maya hieroglyphics.

Produced by NOVA.

Available on Netflix.

Supporting lesson plans available at:

“Inca” (1997)

Disc Three of the “Secrets of the Lost Empires” series produced by NOVA

This film examines different aspects of Inca knowledge and engineering including the transportation and fitting of huge stones for their monumental architecture, the construction of suspension bridges and the Quipu record-keeping system.

Available on Netflix.

Transcript available at:


Follow-up Q&A available at:


The series “Columbus and the Age of Discovery” (1991)

This is a very well-done series commemorating the quincentennial of Columbus’s voyage. Among the videos I found particularly interesting:

“An Idea Takes Shape”

This program focuses on the advances in shipbuilding and navigation that made Columbus's voyages possible, examines his motivations and chronicles his long and arduous search for patronage to fund his westward voyage to the Orient.

“The Crossing”

Full-scale, working replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria follow the route of Columbus's first transatlantic crossing, while excerpts from his logs and journals evoke 15th century shipboard life.

“The Columbian Exchange”

This program examines the interchange of horses, cattle, corn, potatoes and sugar cane between the Old World and the New, and the lasting impact of this interchange on the people of both worlds.

Originally broadcast by PBS. Distributed by Films Media Group.

Hard to find but worth looking for. Supporting lesson plans are available here.


"Brazil: An Inconvenient History” (2000)

From the BBC “Timewatch” series

This production charts the history of slavery in Brazil, the destination for 40 percent of the slaves who survived the Atlantic crossing and the last country to officially abolish slavery.

Available at:

Other Outreach Events

2007 Summer Institute for Teachers

"From Crude to Cane: Energy Policy in Latin America"

2006 Summer Institute for Teachers

"Remembering Alta California, Remaking the Past "

2004 Summer Institute for Teachers

"The Making of Modern Cuba"

2003 Summer Institute for Teachers

"Ten Years After NAFTA: How Has Globalization Affected Mexico?"

2002 Summer Institute for Teachers

"Mexico in the 20th Century:
Themes of the History Curriculum








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