Website Review

Primary Source: Educating Global Citizens

Primary Source

Primary Source: Educating Global Citizens began in the late 1980s by educators with both historical and pedagogical backgrounds. Since its founding has grown enormously to include more courses and more resources that are available for teachers at all levels both for paid membership and unpaid online use. Based in the Boston area, its mission is to develop and enhance: “A global education [which] is one that incorporates learning about the cultures, geographies, histories, and current issues of all the world's regions. It emphasizes the interconnectedness and diversity of peoples and histories. Global education develops students' skills to engage with their global peers and highlights actions students can take as citizens of the world. It is a lens that can be applied to all disciplines and all grade levels as well as the broader school community.”

The site is extremely user-friendly: with links to its courses and diverse resources – under the link for Our Teachers, one finds a plethora of choices, including free online materials, podcasts, and seminars. Under the Resources link on the Home Page, one finds resource guides, primary sources, and classroom-ready activities. These materials cover numerous world history topics taught at a variety of levels, along with links to other resources. Subtopic for resource guides include global education, world history history/global studies, Africa, East Asia, Latin America, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and United States/Canada. Most of the material is regional with the exception of Europe.

Under Online Curriculum one finds a variety of teacher-created lessons (as of November 2020 there were 13) that could be of interest to educators who are in need of material to add to pre-existing units and/or curricula. The lesson on Political and Cultural Identity in Postwar Japan is a great example. An overview essay by Ted Gilman shares ideas about Japanese society and politics from 1947 through the 1990s. Two lessons for Grades 8 -12 are included; one a close reading analysis of the Japanese Constitution of 1947 and of the Basic Policy on National Defense of 1957 and the other of Protest of Okinawans’ Protest of United States’ Bases in 2010 which utilizes protest images.

Such sources are indeed a superb addition to one’s class; unquestionably the materials on the Primary Source site can help enhance any class. However, since they lack an index and since the lessons are presented without particular categorization, educators may find themselves frustrated as they search for a lesson or lessons on particular topics and may not locate what they want at a given moment. With perseverance the range of materials that are available online are definitely worth a good hard look as they may be what one wants for a particular lesson or to develop for a lesson or just for further education for oneself, as in the fascinating array of podcasts on parts of African or Middle Eastern History.


James A. Diskant, Ph.D, a historian of modern German History, is a retired high school history and government teacher. From 2001 to 2017 he taught at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Boston, Massachusetts, where he taught courses in world and big history, as well as in government and in research methods. As the author of student-based curricula, he had been an active member of history and pedagogical associations, including the World History Association and the National Council for the Studies, where he led workshops for teachers. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany and is an active member of EuroClio’s History and Learning Team.

Reviewed by James Diskant, John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science

How to Cite This Source

"Primary Source: Educating Global Citizens," in in World History Commons, [accessed January 16, 2022]
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“Such sources are indeed a superb addition to one’s class; unquestionably the materials on the Primary Source site can help enhance any class.”