History Courses


Current History Courses offered now:
Recent History courses (offered on a rotating basis with different courses each Term):
2023T4 HIS215 Search for Utopia button

Please note that previous courses will be offered again in future Terms. Additional courses are currently under development, so stay tuned for more courses as we re-offer previous courses and introduce new courses each Term.

History Courses:

HIS108: “From Plague to Protest: A Social History of Disease with Adam Nachowitz (Junior Lecturer Series)

This course offers an accessible overview of disease from both biological and social perspectives. We will begin with discovering how the body defends itself against invaders, and then pivot to examining the invaders themselves. Armed with this knowledge, we will be able to explore how diseases have played out in society, from the Middle Ages through to the present day. Along the way, we will examine some fascinating case studies and the individuals who have played pivotal roles in either furthering our understanding in the battle of organisms or in stymying public health efforts.

NEXT OFFERED: To be offered againsoon. Stay tuned!

This series of 8 talks, from our new Introductory World History series, explores and reveals the primal influences of classical Greece & Rome, and explains how these influences manifest today and get played out in the modern world. Knowing these things helps not only with our sense of indentity, but also provides us with a point of reference against which to measure our values and make critical judgments.

OFFERED: 2023 Term 2 (May-June), Wednesdays 11:00am-1:00pm beginning 3 May 2023 (New Zealand time).

Art, literature, religion and philosophy have never been entirely discrete and separate entities. They have intersected down the ages, influencing and taking inspiration from one another.

This course will look at how that contextual relationship has evolved over the centuries.

OFFERED: 2022 Term 2, beginning Friday 13 May 2022

Though often forgotten, the history of Latin America is rich and full of intrigue. Argentina is no exception. This course will trace Argentina’s history, beginning with the Incas, their origins, rise to power and then eventual fall at the hands of the Spanish. Then on to independence, which was not what it was cracked up to be, before looking at the beginning of what we know as the nation of Argentina today, with a sampling of military dictatorships, political turmoil, and economic woes. We end on a positive note with the rise of the feminist movement.

OFFERED: 2022 Term 1

To be offered again soon.

This course will take a fresh perspective on one of the largest and most wide-reaching conflicts of human history: the First World War. We will look at how birds and birdwatchers were shaped by this conflict, how human-bird relationships changed, and how the legacy of certain species lives on today. We’ll read letters from birders at Gallipoli and the Somme, explore the relationship between femininity and ornithology during the war, look at how our feathered friends helped shape the course of the war, and so much more!

OFFERED: 2022 Term 2, begins Tuesday 31 May 2022

HIS214: “Tudor Women Who Moulded the Monarchy” with Junior Lecturer Flicky Cunliffe

In the wake of Her Late Majesty’s passing, this course reflects on the female leaders of the monarchy, exploring how their gender impacted their reign and legacy. Focusing on the Tudor period, we journey from the green sleeves of Anne Boleyn to the Catholic tyranny of Mary. This course explores the antithetical female leaders and their role in shaping British History at a time of significant change, the beginning of the birth of modern Europe.

OFFERED: 2023 Term 1, begins Tuesday 14 February 2023, 7:00-8:00pm (New Zealand time).

To be offered again soon.


From the Garden of Eden to 21st century Jihad and back, this four-week course will take an historic look at the human capacity, frequent and frantic, to pursue the dream of perfection. It will take in the Greeks and their nostalgia for the “golden age”, the Roman vision of empire, the Christian one of paradise, Karl Marx and the socialist state, the darker dystopias of the 20th century and our own troublesome Gloriavale.

OFFERED: 2023 Term 4, begins Wednesday 15 November 2023, 11:00am-1:00pm (New Zealand time).

2023T4 HIS215 Search for Utopia button

HIS216: “Size Matters: A History of Human Perception of the Universe” with Peter Dornauf

Once upon a time the universe was small, compact and user-friendly, merely a solar system wide with us in the middle, as befitted our cosmic importance. Mankind’s place, meaning and destiny was comfortably assured in this diminutive of settings. Today we find ourselves no longer the centre of attention, nor inside a pocket-sized cosmos specially made for us. We stare out at billions of galaxies, black holes and limitless voids of space. This series of 3 lectures will trace the history of these huge shifts in perspective and how they have impacted the lives of those who lived through these changes, especially those in the modern era.

NEW COURSE! OFFERED: 2024 Term 1, begins Wednesday 21 February 2024, 11:00am-1:00pm (New Zealand time).


HIS217: “A History of Happiness” with Peter Dornauf

A plethora of books have hit the market in recent years on the hot topic of how to be happy. It’s become a controlling objective for many in the modern world: in fact, the goal of life. It wasn’t always so. In the ancient world, the goal was just to keep your head down. In the Christian world, happiness was postponed till the afterlife. It wasn’t till the post Enlightenment era that the “pursuit of happiness” became enshrined in the psyche, and, paradoxically, like Homer Simpson said of Duff beer, became the cause of and solution to, all our problems. This 3 lecture series will track the history of happiness and how it ultimately has coloured our view of life and how to live it.

NEW COURSE! OFFERED: 2024 Term 1, begins Wednesday 20 March 2024, 11:00am-1:00pm (New Zealand time).


HIS303: “A Cultural History of Death with Peter Dornauf, MA

This series of 8 talks, from our Selected Topics in History series, explores, historically, the subject of death from the perspective of several different disciplines: religion (both traditional and contemporary), philosophy, art, literature, music and film.

OFFERED: 2022 Term 3, Fridays 11:00am-1:00pm beginning Friday 5 August 2022

To be offered again soon.

You’ve probably met the Greek gods in popular fiction and films, but…have you ever wondered how the Ancient Greeks really worshiped their gods? In this class, we’ll go back in time and get to know the real Greek gods. As we shift through archaeology, art and literature, you’ll learn: how to identify the Olympian gods, how to build an altar, how to ‘feed’ a god, the working of feasts and festivals, what to do (and not to do) inside a Greek sanctuary, and how the Greek gods became Roman (…it’s complicated).

NEW COURSE! OFFERED: 2024 Term 2, Wednesdays 7:00-8:30pm beginning Wed 8 May 2024.

• HIS310:Dead Sea Scrolls with Dr Dennis Green, PhD

Ever since their discovery in the 1940s the Dead Sea Scrolls have generated massive amounts of scholarly controversy. Even those outside the field of Biblical Studies tend to be vaguely aware of academic scandals, religiously motivated cover-ups and conspiracy theories. So what is it about the “most significant archaeological discovery of the 20th century” that has created so much controversy?

OFFERED: 2023 Term 1 beginning Wednesday 22 March 2023, 7:00-8:30pm

To be offered again soon.

• HIS320: “The Historical Jesus with Dr Dennis Green, PhD

Typically one tends to get an understanding of Jesus presented from the standpoint of the Christian religious tradition. Within this particular framework he is understood as the founder of Christianity. What then will happen when he is approached by an expert in Jewish history rather than Christian history?

This course contextualises Jesus within the historical, cultural, religious and political framework of the late Second Temple period, e.g. from the standpoint of Jewish history. Thus we are attempting to understand an historical figure within a particular historical context using an historical, rather than a theological, methodology.

The late Second Temple period was an era of rapid religious change and uncertainty, massive cultural clashes as well as unending political turmoil. But, as a result, it was also an era of religious creativity and diversity. It is within this context that Jesus will be evaluated.

OFFERED: This 5 week course begins on Wednesday 27 April 2022, 7:00-9:00pm

To be offered again soon.

HIS330: “Putin’s Wars: Background to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine with Dr Alexander Maxwell, PhD, Victoria University of Wellington

The Russian invasion of Ukraine may have happened suddenly and without provocation, but it is part of a larger history of Russian intervention in neighboring countries. This course seeks to provide background on the current war by examining Russian foreign policy in the context of competing nationalisms and territorial disputes in the former Soviet space. Lectures cover the collapse of the Soviet Union, the humiliation of post-soviet Russia, nationalist conflicts in Chechnya and Georgia, and Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution. A final lecture will discuss the situation in Ukraine at the time of the lecture.

OFFERED: This 6-session topical course is offered on Monday evenings from 7:00-8:30pm, beginning on 11 April with the last session on Monday 16 May 2022.

HIS331: “A Brief History of the Ukraine” with Dr Alexander Maxwell, PhD, Victoria University of Wellington

The war in Ukraine has changed the global political landscape of Europe, directing attention at a part of the world whose history and culture is not always known. This course introduces students to modern Ukrainian history. It covers the Russian Revolution, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR, the period of “indigenization,” the collectivization of agriculture and the Ukrainian famine, the Second World War, the Brezhnev era, Ukrainian independence, the Revolution of Dignity, and the confrontation with Russia. There will be six zoom sessions, and time for question and discussion after each session.

OFFERED: This 6-session topical course is offered on Friday afternoons from 3:00-4:30pm (New Zealand time), beginning on 13 January with the last session on Friday 17 February 2023.

To be offered again soon.

General Information:

For more detailed information on each series or course, when offered, class times and locations, and course fees and registration) click on the appropriate links above.

If the course you are interested in is not currently being taught, rest assured that it will be again in the future as we continuously rotate the courses on offer. We also plan to add additional courses and locations in the future. Please contact us if you are interested in having us teach in your area or through your local group, association or organisation.


  • All classes are taught from an objective point of view. These are classes about Aotearoa New Zealand and general World History courses, designed for participants to get a greater understanding of the depth and scope of the diversity that exists within the world’s various cultural, ethnic, faith and belief traditions.
  • Detailed Syllabi are available at the start of each Term.
  • Any Term can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses.
  • All classes encourage questions and group discussion. There are no assignments, required readings, quizzes, tests or exams.
  • PDF copies of each class presentation are emailed to all participants the next day so that you are free to focus on class content rather than taking notes. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, take part in and enjoy the discussions!
  • Course fees include a short tea/coffee/snack break in the middle of each session.
  • There are no refunds for missed classes.
  • Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.
  • Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.


  • Term 1: begins the week on Mon 19 Feb, and ends Fri 12 Apr 2024
  • Term 2: begins the week of Mon 6 May, and ends Fri 28 Jun 2024
  • Term 3: begins the week of Mon 29 Jul, and ends Fri 20 Sep 2024
  • Term 4: begins the week of Mon 21 Oct, and ends Fri 13 Dec 2024

LOCATION: All in-person classes are held at the EarthDiverse Centre located at 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (located 3 shops north of the Hamilton Central Bus Station, above Copier World) (entrance is located on the left side of the building, see map below). Those looking for parking for our evening classes can park just in front of the building in any of the available car parks. Daytime parking can be found in our dedicated car parks, or free 2-hour on-street daytime parking can be found just in front on Anglesea Street.



  • Waged: NZ$200 per person per term (includes online registration fee)
  • Unwaged/Student/Senior: NZ$175 per person per term (includes online registration fee)


In addition to our regular in-person classes offered in Hamilton, we offer ‘Distance Learning’ options for all of our courses. These on-line live-streaming distance-learning options are offered via free Zoom software. Distance-learning options have been added for those living outside the Waikato or for those unable to attend our in-person classes in Hamilton. If you are a Distance-Learner you have the option of joining our regular live classroom sessions via Zoom at the regularly scheduled class time, or you can watch a video-recording of the Zoom classroom session at your leisure and study at your own pace.

Your instructor will send you instructions once you have registered for your course.


Select the appropriate course link above, which will take you to the page for that particular course. Read the details for that course, and if you’d like to register, click on the blue “Register” button which will take you to Registration and Payment pages where you can securely enter in your payment details. A receipt will automatically be generated for you.