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From the AHA Activities column of the November 2013 issue of Perspectives on History

From the Pacific to the Atlantic AHA's Bridging Cultures Program Enters Its Second Year

Dana Schaffer, November 2013

It's been almost a year since participants in the Pacific Worlds and the US History Survey seminar met at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California (Perspectives on History, March 2013), and they've been hard at work applying the research and materials gathered during the program. The seminar is part of a three-­year AHA program-­American History, Atlantic and Pacific-­sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures for Community Colleges initiative.  It included 24 community college professors from 12 schools across the country, and was led by William Deverell (Univ. of Southern California/Huntington Library). Since the seminar concluded, participants have begun to use what they learned to expand their course syllabi and to enhance their own research. One participant, Joy Shulz (Metropolitan Comm. Coll.) has published an article, "Crossing the Pali: White Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and the Racial Divide in Hawaii, 1820–1898," in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth using research material she uncovered while at the Pacific Worlds seminar. Others incorporated the content into their classes last spring and this fall.

To facilitate discussions among the participants throughout the year, the AHA has created an online forum on the AHA's Communities site (see article on page 28) to share resources, questions, and ideas. The forum has been active, with participants sharing new research and thoughts about how they have applied the material in the classroom. Seminar leaders have even held virtual office hours to ensure that the widespread group stays connected.

Even as participants continue to focus on Pacific Rim materials and research, the Bridging Cultures program organizers have been planning the program's second seminar, Atlantic Encounters, which will be held this coming January at the Library of Congress. Philip Morgan (Johns Hopkins Univ.) and AHA staff have been developing the calendar of visiting scholars and planning collaboratively with the staff at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Daily seminar sessions will feature talks on topics such as the Atlantic environment, race and identity, and free and unfree labor. Participants will also explore the use of maps and cartography in the Atlantic world. Additionally, the seminar will include daily discussions about teaching, and invited speakers will devote a portion of their presentations to applying new historical content in the classroom.

Visit the Bridging Cultures, for more information and a list of participants.

—Dana Schaffer is the AHA's associate director.