1968: A Most Significant Year

In 1968 the world faced many episodes of violence and revolution as militant groups challenged old orthodoxies and opposed government policies. Student riots, anti Vietnam War rallies, clashes in the Civil Rights movements, anti Apartheid demonstrations, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jnr and the emergence of domestic terrorism in the USA and the UK certainly created disorder as democratically elected governments struggled to maintain the status quo. The Russian tanks rolled into Prague in 1968 to destroy the “Prague Spring” while the Mexico Olympics featured the Black Power salute on the Olympic podium.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.


  • Charles Kaiser, 1968 : America, Music, Politics, Chaos, Counterculture and the Shaping of a Generation, Grove Press 2018
  • Mark Kurlansky, 1968, The Year That Rocked the World, Randon House, 2005


  • Key developments in the Vietnam War in 1968 including the Tet Offensive and the My Lai Massacre, anti war movements across the world, Civil Rights movements and conflicts in Australia and the USA, assassinations of M L King and RF Kennedy, anti establishment underground groups and the Black Power movement
  • Russian repression of the Prague Spring, the Mexico Olympics as a political platform, violence at the Democratic Convention in Chicago and the ensuing court cases, student riots in France and across the world on University campuses
  • Roles of key individuals, including Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Enoch Powell, Muhammed Ali
  • Legacies of the defining year of 1968

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain the factors contributing to the outbreaks of revolution and violence across the world in 1968.
  2. Understand the mixed responses of democratic and totalitarian governments to the complex challenges of the events 1968.
  3. Evaluate the key role of individual politicians, counterculture leaders and social justice advocates in 1968.
  4. Appreciate the legacy of the events of 1968 some 52 years later.

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