Fostering global interactions? An experiment in teaching world history across national boundaries

Adrian Carton, Patrick Manning

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Over ten years ago, Geyer and Bright predicted that globalization would facilitate the revival of world history. Despite this prediction, the teaching and learning of world history in the twenty-first century has still not become truly globalized. If we live in a truly global age, shouldn't we also teach world history in a global pedagogical context? Our international experiment between Macquarie University and Northeastern University arose from such a question, and also from two significant tensions that have arisen in recent years between the theory and practice of teaching world history. The first tension relates to the teaching of world history from within a curriculum paradigm which remains tied to the notion of separate 'nations.' Indeed, even though world historians commonly seek to situate human being in contexts that transcend the nation-state, much of the world history curriculum is stitched together under the rubric of national interests. The second tension is the question of the cross-cultural experiences that equip students to be global citizens. While we teach the ethos and philosophy of global interactions, our day-to-day teaching practices remain anchored in one locality. In other words, while world history courses advocate mobility, flexibility, and the ability to reach beyond borders, students generally remain in a single class in one city in one particular country. Moreover, we teach world history within a specific cultural context bound by specific cultural practices such as the language of instruction. Thus the problem remains: how do we facilitate the transfer of academic and cultural skills from one culture to another, emulating the very contacts and interactions of world history pedagogy? This article charts the recent initiative of Patrick Manning at Northeastern University in Boston and Adrian Carton at Macquarie University in Sydney to address this problem by providing an international framework for the teaching of world history across national boundaries. By taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by an electronic learning forum, students from parallel world history courses from Boston and Sydney joined an 'Atlantic World History' international tutorial in March and April 2005. What did we learn from this global initiative and what did our experience tell us about the pursuit of internationalizing world history teaching and learning? Did we replace national interests with a global approach to world history pedagogy? Does international internet learning create global citizens through equitable access or does it create greater disadvantage through the global commodification of education itself?
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld history connected
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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