Browse Teaching

Explore commonly taught topics along with related primary sources, discussion questions, teaching strategies, and annotated bibliographies.

Ship Plan of a Late-19th Century Steamship

Short Teaching Module: Connecting the French Empire

For a long time, historians tended to study colonial empires of the 19th and 20th centuries one colony at a time, or through the relationship of one colony to its metropole. Increasingly, though, historians are interested in studying global empires as interconnected systems that shaped globalization by channeling the flow (or lack thereof) of people, goods, and ideas through imperial pathways.

"U.S. Lynchings Shock World, Says White," The Chicago Whip, 19 November 1921

Source Collection: Pan-Africanism, Anticolonialism and Addressing the Problem of the Global Color Line in the 20th Century

At the turn of the 20th century, a growing number of Black intellectuals and activists across the Atlantic world no longer saw institutionalized racial inequality, racial hierarchy, and white supremacy as problems confined to the borders of individual nations. Rather, they increasingly viewed the “color line” as a power dynamic that operated globally and transcended national borders.

First page of a letter from President Andrew Jackson to the Senate in 1834 on the expansion of US trade.

Short Teaching Unit: The Omani Empire and the Center of the Emerging Global Economy, 1500-1850

This essay pushes back against European-dominated narratives of world history to suggest that the Omani Empire was a crucial space for the emergence of our present-day system of global capitalism. By 1850, the Omani Empire was a marketspace with its capital in Zanzibar, stretching from there north to the Persian Gulf.

George Padmore article on George Browne's calypso "Freedom for Ghana" in the Ghanaian newspaper The Morning Telegraph (Sekondi) from February 5, 1952

Short Teaching Module: Music and Decolonization in the Black Atlantic

The decades after World War II witnessed rapid decolonization of European empires and a dramatic increase in independence movements for colonized peoples.

Construction drawing of a social housing high-rise in La Duchère, 1960.

Social Capital in World History: Lyon and Pittsburgh as Examples

Lyon, France, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are connected by the thread of social capital, or people power.  This essay situates social capital as an non-financial asset possessed by people who have little wealth, but who use a variety of strategies to facilitate community improvements.

Picture of the title page of Edward Waring's book "Remarks on the Uses of Some of the Bazaar Medicines and Common Medical Plants of India"

Short Teaching Module: Teaching the Intersection of Gender and Race through Colonial Medical Texts

This module focuses on medical texts written by British doctors working in India and their gendered and racial categorization of ailments and diseases. A detailed analysis of medical texts from the nineteenth century shows the ways in which medical practitioners in Colonial India dedicated much of their time to treating female issues such as menstrual cramps, hysteria, and labor pains.

Page from the Qing Veritable Records

Short Teaching Module: Translation and a World History of the Qing Empire

In 1953, L. P. Hartley famously wrote: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." His observation is particularly relevant for world historians, who have to engage in translation projects to bridge the distance between our world and the worlds of our historical actors.

US pamphlet parody of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle

Short Teaching Module: Transnational Connections and the Long Cold War in Nicaragua

A strength of teaching from a transnational perspective is that it forces us to reorient our viewpoint and consider new approaches to our subjects. This is particularly true when looking at modern Latin American history.

Title page of Dr. William Ruschenberger's memoir

Short Teaching Module: Global Microhistory and the Nineteenth-Century Omani Empire

In their primer essay, Jessica Hanser and Adam Clulow note how scholars of global microhistory explore relationships between macro and micro, deep structures and contingency, and big state actors and minor players.

Painting of The Batavia Castle seen from the Kali Besar West

Short Teaching Module: Spatial Histories of Law, Race and Empire

Law is not only to be found in doctrine and documents, but also in structures and materials, in buildings and in cloth, in paintings and in photos. World historians use visual and material evidence to examine colonial courtrooms and other imperial legal spaces and to address broader questions of law, race and empire.

Clip from Wolff's article on hay's nutritional values

Short Teaching Module: Agricultural Knowledge in the Late Nineteenth Century

Knowledge knows no national boundaries. Therefore, the history of knowledge also has to move beyond national boundaries to understand how knowledge was produced, moved, and adapted. Telling such a history without the limitations of national boundaries is challenging.

Inset of Ukraine from larger map of 1918 Europe

Long Teaching Module: Border Changes of the Soviet Union

Border changes have been a central part of 20th century European history. This lesson will examine a few key maps and documents that explore the creation, expansion, and dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union arose from the First World War, was expanded by the Second World War, and was destroyed by the Cold War.

Ad for auction of ship's cargo. Description at link.

Short Teaching Module: Nineteenth-Century American Trade on Zanzibar

Although American merchants often fade from historical narratives after the eighteenth century, they remained influential actors in the United States and abroad. As western expansion and industrialization reshaped the nation’s economy, American traders dispatched voyages around the world in search of new opportunities.

Photo shows three men in pith helmets with a device on a cart in the foreground. A small hut is in the background.

Short Teaching Module: Transnational Efforts at Controlling Yellow Fever

Early twentieth century microbiologists thought of their work as inherently transnational, and world historians have begun to do the same. The West African yellow fever epidemic of 1927-28 offers an exemplary opportunity to study how French scientists and African politicians used imperial and international networks to reimagine colonial public health policies.

Image of a list written in script. Explanation in source annotation.

Short Teaching Module: Global Approaches to Maritime Trade in Colonial North America

Traditional narratives in American history, especially in colonial history, tend to focus primarily on British policy and British trade networks. Taking a global approach to the maritime trade of British America in the colonial era provides a better understanding of the actual economy, however.

Inset of Prester John from larger world map. Shows a man sitting in front of a tent.

Short Teaching Module: Examining Early Genoese Voyages through Maps

The medieval Genoese ranged from China to the Atlantic, and their experience in navigation, the sugar industry, and the slave trade were the elemental foundation of Iberian colonial expansion.

Cartoon of a giant man wearing a kilt and a turban straddling two land masses separated by water

Short Teaching Module: Making Empire Global - British Imperialism in India, 1750-1800

The study of world history has often overlapped with scholarship on empire and imperialism. The global interactions engendered by empire have given rise to lively debate and even controversy about the nature of imperialism, its economic and political underpinnings as well as its impact on states, societies, and ecologies.

Photo of girls dressed as Indian women. Description in annotation below.

Long Teaching Module: Exploring Empire through the Lens of Childhood and Gender

As European empires expanded at the end of the end of the nineteenth century, imperialism came to permeate everyday life and had a pervasive influence on childhood, shaping everything from education to sports and literature.

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Short Teaching Module: Ariya Cam Bini, a 19th century Cham Poem

Ariya Cam Bini is a 19th–century epic poem written in the Austronesian Cham language of mainland Southeast Asia.  The poem comes from the area called Pāṇḍuraṅga or Nâgar Cam, a pluralistic society in terms of culture, religion, and identity.

Broken fragment of stone monument with glyphs carved into it.

Short Teaching Module: Maya Writing

In the period from 200 to 900 C.E, which scholars later labelled the Classic Period, the Maya developed the most complex writing system in the Americas, a script with nearly a thousand characters (termed “glyphs”) that represent concepts and sounds, which over the last fifty years has been largely deciphered.