Looking at 1968


The world changed in 1968, and Professor of History Alex Bloom is detailing what happened, what it meant at the time and what it means for us today, both for his First Year Seminar 1968: The Year The World Exploded.

“I think of [1968] as maybe being the most extraordinary single year of the 20th century,” Bloom said. “From Saigon with the Tet Offensive to Memphis and the Martin Luther King assassination to Prague with the Prague Spring and the Soviet invasion to the Paris student riots … all around the world, events exploded.”

The course offers students the chance to dive into epochal moments in modern history and discover how events in the late 1960s have helped to shape the world today. “I want to empower [students] to understand that … what shapes people lives are not just what presidents or generals or dictators do, but also what they do.”

An undergraduate himself at the time, Bloom said the prospect of the 50th anniversary of the events of 1968 inspired him to craft the course as well as start a new book on the topic.

“Too often Americans particularly, but others as well, are ahistorical. They think today is today and everything began when the sun came up,” he said. “But in reality every issue we can think of has a deep history and to deal with it.”

A conversation with… is a video series highlighting the teaching and scholarship of Wheaton College faculty members.