The Global Approch Part II

I have done a number of seminars on the global processes of teaching world history, and my response is always the same.It is a world course; hence, the teaching of regional studies filled with insignificant details usually does not allow students to gain a broader understanding of the processes that make the course a global one. The reality is that of comfort. We were not trained as world historians. Thus, it is difficult for us to look at global trends. It is important to teach certain detailed information, such as: In my course, I teach about Royal Absolutism under Louis XIV of France, however, I compare that to leaders of India and China so that students might gain an understanding of the concept of absolutism in World History, not just in European history. Or, how Japan was significant in bringing the enlightenment to Europe — not the other way around.

Moreover, a good course should include an overview of the entire history of humanity from a consistent global viewpoint. This is essential in order to make clear the dynamics of world history and its regional relationships; it is the regional relationships that we must draw specific facts and case studies from in order to utilize in a comparative fashion. It is that compared to the macro approach that allows students to draw conclusions about the history of the world — not the history of isolated places; if we fail to do this, students get nothing more than choppy history. They fail to see why this is world history and not a mere regional studies course. Unfortunately, that is usually all students get. A compartmentalized study of a given region loses much of its value if it is not preceded by an understanding of the relationships of that region with others, and with the history of the world collectively. Details, to a degree, are important; however, if they are not used to address bigger issues and problems — they are nothing more than just a list of endless facts.

According to my friend and fellow historian Marilynn Hitchens: “This course should address not only the internal dynamics of cultural studies, but also interrelationships between and/or across cultural areas.” Because this is so important, I always place this statement from the WHA on my syllabus; it allows students to understand why we must see the big picture (see statement below). As for details, classroom instruction should focus on the highest level of bloom’s taxonomy; if we are teaching a bunch of facts without any true analytical connection, than we are not teaching a good analytical course.

My syllabus states:

World History is the study of human history around the globe and through time. World History is NOT an adaptation of European History nor is it a series of area studies. World History is a global perspective of the human story. World historians study global forces and large historical themes. Among these themes are climatic changes, the spread of diseases and religions, and the expansion of a global economy. In World History, the story of Columbus is not simply the discovery of a “new world”. Instead, it is the “Columbian Exchange”, a story of human migrations, transatlantic trade, and the exchange of plants, animals, diseases, art, and technology between the eastern and western hemispheres. World History transcends civilizations and nation-states to form a macro history of the human past. This course focuses on the global impact that change and continuity has brought forth.[1]

[1] From the World History Association.


3 thoughts on “The Global Approch Part II

  1. agreed Carson – the struggle is becoming learned enough ourselves to address the issues as such – it seems that most history courses i took in college were the standard chronologically presented list of info . . . of course those i’m gleaning from now are much better. you know i’m not necessarily a historian, yet it is a goal i’m pursuing – i find the big picture much more interesting than the details.

  2. Appreciating the hard work you put into your website and detailed information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed
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