From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.


Browse the Contemporary Civilization (Ideas and Institutions of Western Man) Collections:

Section I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization

Section II: Medieval, Political and Economic Development: Feudalism and Manorialism

Section III: The Medieval Church

Section IV: The Medieval Ferment

Section V: The Rise of Capitalism and the National State to 1500

Section VI: Renaissance Humanism

Section VII: The Protestant Movement

Section VIII: The Development of Modern Science

Section IX: Early Modern Europe, 1500-1789

Section X: The Eighteenth Century Enlightenment

Section XI: The Revolutionary Wars, 1776-1815

Section XII: The Post-Enlightenment Period

Section XIII: Political Liberalism and Nationalism, 1815-1871

Section XIV: The Industrial Revolution, Classical Economics, and Economic Liberalism

Section XV: Biology and the Rise of the Social Sciences

Section XVI: Developments in Socialism, 1848-1914

Section XVII: The Transformation of Liberalism and Nationalism, 1871-1914

Section XVIII: The Western World in the Twentieth Century: The Historical Setting

Section XIX: An Analysis of the Contemporary World’s Search for Meaning

Section XX: Meaning in the Physical Sciences

Section XXI: Meaning in the Social Sciences

Section XXII: Philosophical Meaning

Section XXIII: Theological Meaning

Section XXIV: Historical Meaning