Teaching World History
New Teaching Pedagogies in World History
World history teaching pedagogies have experienced a significant transformation over recent decades. In the past, world history survey courses centered around Western civilization, with “non-Western” civilizations covered mostly in the context of bygone golden ages and dynastic sequences. Under new frameworks, however, effective survey courses—including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate—cover a sequence of global eras, examining various societies side-by-side within the appropriate time period.
This allows students to learn about the emergence, growth and characteristics of each society, as well as the interactions that took place between them, highlighting intellectual, cultural and technological exchanges in new ways. Whereas earlier generations of students would have memorized lists of achievements attributed to certain civilizations or dynastic periods, students today investigate primary sources that point to complex paths of exchange and transmission of ideas, inventions, and cultural practices. Religions are no longer associated solely with the culture or civilization in which they arose, since no world religion remained neatly within the bounds of a single empire. Students thus gain a more realistic picture of how religions spread changed over time. This pedagogical approach presents a picture of global change over time that is not interrupted by chronological switchbacks, and which is inclusive of the entire human experience.
Resources for Teaching about World History
Teachers need support in transitioning to this pedagogical approach, especially since most textbooks have neither fully embraced the framework, nor kept pace with advances in world history scholarship. CCAS has focused its education outreach program on making interdisciplinary world history scholarship accessible and enjoyable to teach. CCAS Summer Teacher Institutes and Workshops on world history equip teachers with resources specific to the topics covered, in addition to general world history resources. These include:
● Children & Youth in History and World History Matters, which were created by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University
● World History for Us All, housed at the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA, this is an innovative model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools using the global eras approach
● The Indian Ocean in World History moves beyond the “civilizations” approach to world history to help students explore the oceanic region that arcs from East Africa to the Indian subcontinent to Australia as a vibrant region of exchange, technological advancement, and production of goods for thousands of years.
● Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean is a six-part curriculum unit that stresses the transregional circulation of ideas, intercultural connections, and commercial ties across the Mediterranean—examining connections between societies in northern Africa, western Asia, and Europe from 5000 BCE to today.
● Smarthistory offers a collection of videos and essays that foster understanding of art and cultural history from ancient times to the present. It includes materials on Judaism and art, Christianity and Art, and Arts of the Islamic World.
● Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, offers a comprehensive resource on art history, pairing essays and works of art with chronologies.
Middle East and North Africa
● Rethinking the Region: New Approaches to a 9–12 U.S. Curriculum on the Middle East is a curriculum that integrates new scholarship to explore ways in which peoples and societies interacted to more accurately reflect the region’s complex histories and identities.
● Unity Productions Foundation provides documentaries with companion websites and teaching resources, such as The Sultan and the Saint, which is about the Crusades, and Cities of Light: the Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, which features a website and curriculum materials created in collaboration with the CCAS Education Outreach program.
● The Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC) is a national nonprofit dedicated to disseminating apolitical and nonpartisan information, resources, and activities furthering understanding about the Middle East.
● Middle East Book Award recognizes literature for children and young adults that helps readers develop a richer understanding of the Middle East. This MEOC award is part of the World Area Book Awards, which also includes the Américas Award, Africana Book Award, South Asia Book Award, and the Freeman Book Award. The Global Read Webinar Series offers webinar discussions with authors and tips about incorporating multicultural literature into the classroom.
● Muslim Journeys Bookshelf provides a curated collection of books and films recommended by distinguished scholars of history, anthropology, and other subjects as part of the Bridging Cultures project, a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.
CCAS Workshops and Institutes on World History
In addition to connecting educators with curriculum materials and teaching tools that utilize current world history pedagogies and the latest scholarship, the CCAS Education Outreach program has led a number of internal and external workshops and week-long summer institutes on world history topics. A few of these include:
● The Enlightenment as Global Phenomenon
Summer Teacher Institute: August 5-9, 2019 at CCAS
This week-long institute challenged the narrow portrayal often found in textbooks of the Enlightenment as a purely European phenomenon, highlighting the diversity of intellectual exchanges from Asia, Africa and the Americas that shaped European thought. Scholars presented on literature, world and European history, the history of science, and the contributions of multiple societies to Enlightenment thought.
● Beyond Ibn Battuta: The Indian Ocean Across Time and Disciplines
Summer Teacher Institute: August 3-7, 2015 at CCAS
Attending teachers heard from nine distinguished scholars on a wide range of environmental, historical, cultural and political topics on the Indian Ocean maritime region, and its impact on human history over many millennia. Resources for teachers include the website Indian Ocean in World History.
● Integrating the Mediterranean into World History: Approaches and New Teaching Resources
Summer Teacher Institute: August 11-15, 2014 at CCAS
Scholar speakers covered the Mediterranean geology and physical environment, as well as literary, artistic, technological, and scientific interactions in the region, migration, and the movement of religious ideas. Specialists in pedagogy introduced teachers to the resource Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean.
● Webinar on the Indian Ocean in World History
October 12, 2019 at Dickinson College, Carlisle PA
● Persian Culture and History: An Interdisciplinary Workshop and Retreat for Educators
April 13, 2019 at the Farm of Peace, Warfordsburg PA
● Global Fables, Folklore, and Fantasy in Children’s and Youth Literature
April 10, 2019 at Howard University
● Becoming a Historian: Museum artifacts and their connections to religion, trade and cultural exchanges in Asia, Europe, and Africa
March 15, 2019 at the Detroit Institute of Art
● Teaching about the World in Public & Private Schools as an Equity Issue: A Social Justice Curriculum and Pedagogy Workshop
February 22, 2019 at CCAS
● New Perspectives and Teaching Resources on The Crusades
January 20, 2018 at CCAS
● MEOC@MESA: Engage Your Five Senses! Cultural Exchanges from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean
November 18, 2017 at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center
● From Sindbad to the Shabab Oman: A Seafaring Legacy
September 23, 2017 at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center
● Mapping Material Culture Through Indian Ocean Trade: Cotton in the Global Economy
February 25, 2017 at CCAS
● Oberoi Distinguished Roundtable: Mobility, Exchange, and Transformations in the Indian Ocean World
April 21, 2016 at CCAS
● Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories: Exhibit Tour and Workshop
May 20, 2015 at the Textile Museum, Washington, DC
● Pirates of Three Seas: History from Below in Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Maritime Spaces
November 14, 2015 at CCAS