Alan T. Wood

Professor Emeritus

Alan T. Wood

Ph.D. History, University of Washington

Recipient of the University of Washington Bothell Distinguished Teaching Award, 2004



The Roman orator and philosopher Cicero once wrote that “historia magistra vitae”-history is the teacher of life. In teaching Chinese history and world history, I have three goals: 1) to cultivate wisdom as well as knowledge; 2) to understand the present by learning from the past experience of others; and 3) to become more aware of the global dimensions of all human activity.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 268 World History to 1500
BIS 269 World History after 1500


My teaching has concentrated on traditional and modern China, and on world history.

Selected Publications

  • “Confucian Democracy in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective,” in Confucianism for the 21st Century (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2023).
  • “Confucianism and Social Structure,” Oxford Handbook on Confucianism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023).
  • Fire, Water, Earth, and Sky: Global Systems History and the Human Prospect,” Journal of the Historical Society (September 2010).
  • Asian Democracy in World History. London: Routledge, 2004.
  • What Does It Mean to be Human?: A New Interpretation of Freedom in World History. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.
  • World Civilizations. Co-author, ninth edition. Two volumes. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.
  • Limits to Autocracy: From Sung Neo-Confucianism to a Doctrine of Political Rights. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1995.