From the News column of the May 2004 Perspectives

World History Teachers Get a New Resource

David Darlington, May 2004

World history teachers (and anyone else interested in the subject) have a new resource in World History Connected (WHC), a peer-reviewed e-journal whose first issue appeared online in November 2003. Free worldwide on the Internet at www.worldhistoryconnected.org, WHC is designed for all who seek to deepen their engagement with and understanding of world history. In their mission statement, the WHC editors describe their goals as presenting “innovative classroom-ready scholarship,” keeping readers “up-to-date on the latest research and debates,” presenting “the best in learning and teaching methods and practices,” offering readers “rich teaching resources,” and reporting on “exemplary teaching.“ In an editorial published in the first issue, the editors elaborated their aims further, stating that the increasing proliferation of world history in high school and collegiate classrooms (the number of students taking the Advanced Placement Test in world history increased 65 percent in 2003 alone), necessitated another journal dedicated to the field, especially one that would help bring the latest scholarship and teaching methods into the classroom while also bridging the divide between secondary and post-secondary educators.

Ane Lintvedt, a WHC editor and teacher at the McDonogh School in Maryland, described to Perspectives some of the goals behind the creation of the journal, and explained why its founders decided to produce it online. Lintvedt said that the initiative for the WHC came from the World History Association (WHA)—especially from its past-president Heidi Roupp. Roupp and others recognized that “there was an enormous need for a journal entirely dedicated to topics that world history teachers could use directly in their classrooms.” Because so few K–12 educators (not to mention community college and university instructors teaching survey courses) have world history training, despite the fact that 28 states require world history coursework prior to graduation from a public high school, the need for widely disseminated and good world history materials was judged as being particularly acute. Because the WHA did not have the funds to publish a second major print journal (in addition to its Journal of World History), Roupp and her like-minded colleagues sought more creative and nontraditional ways to produce the new journal they had in mind.

The founders of the new journal chose Washington State University to be its institutional home partly because the university had just established a PhD program in world history. At this time, the journal's editors were also chosen, and the list included educators from both the high school and collegiate ranks. Heather Streets of Washington State University and Thomas Laichas of the Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences (of Santa Monica, California) became co-editors. Their colleagues are: Roupp, executive director; Tim Weston of the University of Colorado, associate editor; Lintvedt, book review editor; and Mary Jane Maxwell, a graduate from Washington State University's PhD program in world history, assistant editor. The editors decided to publish WHC as an e-journal (through the University of Illinois Press) to provide easier and broader access—especially to history teachers who may not otherwise have access to a world history journal—and thus further the journal's aims of disseminating as widely as possible the newest insights into world history education, and of bridging the gap between secondary and postsecondary educators. Made available on the Internet without a subscription charge, WHC can reach teachers at all levels—from secondary school teachers to community college or university instructors and from graduate teaching assistants to newly minted PhDs—who are teaching survey courses with little or no training or background in world history. Furthermore, with no printing and mailing expenses, the cost of publishing WHC would remain relatively low, and instead of languishing on a library shelf, it would be available more widely than a print journal could be.

In keeping with its mission, WHC's format was designed in consultation with K–16 world history teachers. Heidi Roupp, the journal's executive director, assembled an editorial board of teachers, historians, and other education professionals to ensure that the journal stays on course. The journal covers thematic and regional topics in world history, as well as world history pedagogy (how do teachers teach, and how do students learn, world history?). The editors declare that they are interested in publishing “essays on the state of the field,” “topical overviews which cross regional boundaries to examine such issues as gender, technology, demography, social structure, or political legitimacy,” “original scholarship which rigorously engages global themes,” “evaluation of curriculum,” “'Point-Counterpoint' essays presenting two or more perspectives on contentious issues,” and “reviews of texts, readers, and ancillary materials.” To ensure quality, the articles will be peer reviewed before publication.

The first issue of WHC featured five articles, four regular columns, and several book and movie reviews. The articles featured overviews of the state of the field, the latest developments in a Japanese textbook controversy over the depiction of “comfort women,” a review of world history education in the United States, and essays on pedagogy about using discussions and primary sources (specifically imagery and documents) in the world history classroom. The issue appeared to be a success, as the University of Illinois Press reported 148,567 hits on the web site between the launch date and April 20, 2004. The second issue of WHC will be published online on May 15, 2004. The editors also plan to produce several thematic issues.

World History Connected welcomes article or abstract submissions by e-mail at worldhistoryconnected@wsu.edu or by writing to co-editor Heather Streets at Washington State University.*

*Readers are invited to visit the web site of World History Connected for up-to-date contact information.

—David Darlington is associate editor of Perspectives.