This is the free online course Bill Gates thinks everyone should take

We know Bill Gates has a stellar list of books for you to read but he is not done making recommendations. In a recent post on his blog he praised historian David Christian, the author of Origin Story, who is also the creator of, Big History, his “favorite course of all time.” The course, which Gates has also Tweeted about, essentially fits 13.8 billion years of history into 6 hours. Plus it’s free!

We know Bill Gates has a stellar list of books for you to read but he is not done making recommendations. In a recent post on his blog he praised historian David Christian, the author of Origin Story, who is also the creator of, Big History, his “favorite course of all time.” The course, which Gates has also Tweeted about, essentially fits 13.8 billion years of history into 6 hours. Plus it’s free!

Gates writes of the course, “Big History tells the story of the universe from the big bang to the first signs of life to today’s complex societies. It shows how everything is connected to everything else, weaving together insights and evidence from across disciplines into a single, understandable narrative.” In full disclosure, Gates actually helped to conceptualize the idea for Big History while watching online lectures by Christian. Gates was completely captured by the enigmatic Australian professor and with 8,354,727 views on his 2011 TED Talk “The History of Our World in 18 Minutes”, Gates knew there was an eager audience which is why he decided to fund it. 

Big History in a short amount of time

The course is divided into eight “thresholds” starting with the Big Bang to the modern revolution.


Looking for an inspiring way to start your day? Sign up for Morning Motivation!

It’s our friendly Facebook robot that will send you a quick note every weekday morning to help you start strong. Sign up here by clicking Get Started!


But if you don’t have time for the course you can also pick up Origin Story, which Gates also recommends. “If you haven’t taken Big History, Origin Story introduces you to its concepts in a straightforward, understandable way. David is a very good writer, and he has a way of making complicated subjects fun. If you’re already a Big Historian, Origin Story is a great refresher. It does a fantastic job distilling the latest thinking about the origins of the universe. I learned some things that are simply too new to be included in the course,” he wrote.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.