From Flat Earth to Google Earth


Map of worldOverview:
This course will examine the ways people have used maps to make sense of the world around them. From navigators and merchants exploring the globe to scientists looking for new forms of life, cartographers have made the world a little less mysterious. You will examine the history, the art and the science of mapmaking, with a focus on key figures and technologies through the ages.

Target audience:
This course will appeal to anyone who is interested in knowing more about maps, map-making, and how both of those have changed, from the earliest times to the present day.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have:

  • Discussed in detail some of the most famous maps in history.
  • Discussed the biographies of people who have advanced the science and practice of map-making.
  • Considered different ways that people have viewed the world and how views changed during particular periods of history.

Course outline:
Each session includes a lecture presentation with time for questions and discussion.

Session 1: For the Earth Is Flat and We Can Conquer It
Session 2: For the Earth Is Round and We Can Circumnavigate It
Session 3: For the Earth Is Wonderful and Varied and We Can Understand It
Session 4: For the Earth Is in Your Smartphone and You Can Take It with You

There is a short break halfway through each session and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

David White is a historian and education professional who studied history and journalism at the University of Kansas.

Nancy Marquez is a historian with degrees from Stanford, Notre Dame, and Victoria University of Wellington. Her PhD thesis focused on the history of early modern science.

“I appreciated the course tutor [David] not assuming prior knowledge and pitching information at an appropriate level]”, Ten Protest Movements that Changed the World participant (2018)

“The course topics were interesting, well presented and inclined me to pursue many other avenues of reading and exploration around the topics presented”, Ten Protest Movements that Changed the World participant (2018)

“Really enjoyed it particularly with participants able to ask questions and have dialogue with the lecturer [David]”, Ten Protest Movements that Changed the World participant (2018)

Relevant links:
School of History, Philosophy, Political Studies and International Relations

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.