As part of their study of the Axial Age, a short span of just a few lifetimes during which many of the world’s great thinkers were rough contemporaries, students in Doc Vaughn’s freshman world history class enjoyed a hands-on, role-playing experience called AxialTrade. The lesson’s goals focused on strengthening student impressions of the relationship between economic interaction and the spread of ideas and technology. As learning objectives, students utilized their classroom play to distinguish how elements of geographic luck impacted trade and thus influenced people's exposure to new ideas.
Ideas and cultural shifts occurred all over the civilized world, in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India and China. All of today's major world religions are rooted in this brief era. Scholars don't know why all these revolutionary shifts emerged during such a short time. However, there was a massive expansion of metal technology, agricultural surplus, literacy and long-distance trade. To that end, some scholars have argued that the current proliferation of global interaction may cause us to see a "Second Axial Age." Intriguing. But for the purposes of the lesson, the students discussed the role of contact with new ideas and our ability to envision new worldviews and problem-solving systems.