To be done over any twelve-month period:
- Pick a country, any country, but preferably one with a sizable literature. Over the next twelve months, read about its history, geography, economy, government structure, etc. Also watch its films, view its art, and listen to its music. Try out the cuisine. Studying the country's language is optional.
- Pick a year from the past seven decades. Study the events that took place. Read that year's novels and non-fiction. Check out its fashions, art, architecture, and music. Watch the films. Compare the quality of the political and cultural figures with their peers of today.
- Any other similar projects?
Update: See Dan's ideas in the comments section.
Also check out Patrick Rhone's idea on his blog.