World History for Us All
Organized around key themes and essential questions, World History for Us All is an excellent reference for any world history teacher. The site’s developers – from the National Center for History in the Schools, a division of the Public History Initiative, Department of History, UCLA -- began their work in 2001, posted some of the material in 2007, and are still adding to it. The site is a national collaboration of K-12 teachers, collegiate instructors, and educational technology specialists and is directly associated with scholarship promoted by both the World History Association and the International Big History Association. The site is easily navigated; it contains teacher-created and student-centered lesson plans and teaching units, as well as countless resources and is easily and clearly organized around cutting-edge scholarship on transnational and comparative world history and is in turn sub-divided into Eleven Categories of Periodization from the Beginnings of the Universe to Future Predictions. It contains a superb overview of world history, in which the creators argue for the importance of world history education for all; “It helps get [students] ready for the roles they will inevitably play as citizens of both their country and the world. A "global citizen" is simply a national citizen who knows and cares about the history and contemporary affairs of all humankind, a person who can in some measure think, speak, and write about world issues and problems intelligently and confidently.”
It contains broad units for each of the eleven eras as a category of analysis, a variety of units within each of those units, and then a number of lesson plans within those subsections. All of these units have materials ready for classroom use. Easily navigated, the site includes both overview links (teaching units, curriculum at a glance, foundations of this curriculum, questions and themes, glossary, teachers’ comments, evaluate this site, links, contact us) and links for the specific eras. The site’s title demonstrates the creators’ philosophy well; that is of the ongoing nature of history education as a collaborative model for educators at different levels. The overviews present a rich and nuanced view of world history scholarship and along with user-friendly links and pedagogical ideas to student-based learning, its material will excite any teacher. Its units and lesson plans utilize a range of primary sources, which revolve around three themes are: Humans and the Environment, Humans and Other Humans, Humans and Ideas.
In Big Era One, for example, Humans in the Universe, 13 Billion to 200,000 Years Ago, the overview essay discusses the beginning of the earth, as well as “creation myths”. It includes two teaching units. In Big Era Seven the creative unit by Lori Shaller on Living Rooms, which “introduce[s] a study of the nineteenth century but could be adapted for other periods. In addition to dwellings in Mongolia, the Native American plains, and Vietnam, Russian peasant dwellings and British factory worker and owner living spaces are also included. Other adaptations to the unit could include additional geographic locations dispersed across the globe.” is a fascinating approach to the value of comparative historical study that students need to appreciate their unique place in the world.
As a site still under development, it has an ambitious program so that when a teacher goes to find something there, a teacher may be disappointed, since – as of November 2020 – parts are still under development. Still the site unquestionably adds well to materials that are available digitally at no cost to an educator and allows all educators – from novice to experienced – intriguing materials to add to their classroom repertoire.
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.