Resources for Globalizing the US History Survey

Bridging Cultures participants pore over maps at the Library of Congress during the second program workshop.Supported by a grant from the NEH's Bridging Cultures initiative, the AHA's "American History, Atlantic and Pacific" professional development program for Community College faculty promotes a global perspective on US history at the country's increasingly diverse two-year institutions. Participants worked to create or revise US history courses with lessons, units, and other work that deepens teaching on the US in the world. Here you will find a variety of documents produced by these two-year faculty for their redesigned US history courses.

Contributing Participants

Brittany Adams (Irvine Valley Coll.), Gerald Betty, (Del Mar Coll.), Shannon Bontrager (Georgia Highlands Coll.), Vincent A. Clark (Johnson County Community Coll.), Cheryll Cody (Houston Community Coll.), Oscar Cañedo (Grossmont Coll.), Carlos Contreras (Grossmont Coll.), Timothy Draper (Waubonsee Community Coll.), Amy Forss (Metropolitan Community Coll.), Allison Frickert-Murashige (Mt. San Antonio Coll.), Sarah Grunder (Suffolk County Community Coll.), Kimberly Hill (Univ. of Texas at Dallas), Lesley Kawaguchi (Santa Monica Coll.), Kelli Nakamura (Kapi'olani Community Coll.), Amy Powers (Waubonsee Community Coll.)

Irvine Valley College

Decentering the British-Colonial Narrative and Incorporating Regional History in the Survey Course

Brittany Adams focuses on incorporating more regional history into the early survey. She also emphasizes the importance of de-centering the British colonial narrative when teaching students who identify more with western US history, as do many of her students at UC Irvine. She explains her process on AHA Today and provides accompanying curricular resources:

By Brittany Adams

Del Mar College

Bridging Cultures at the Texas Conference on Introductory History Courses

Several Bridging Cultures participants attended the Texas Conference on Introductory History Courses. Gerald Betty describes a conversation had there about bringing the Atlantic and Pacific worlds into the US history survey.

By Gerald Betty

Georgia Highlands College

Experiments in Content and Pedagogy

Shannon Bontrager not only incorporated global contexts into his survey, but he also used non-traditional and digital pedagogical tools to engage his students.

By Shannon Bontrager

Johnson County Community College

Chinese Immigrants in America in the 19th Century: A Study Module

As a result of work in the Bridging Cultures program and further study, I have prepared the following module on Chinese immigrants for my US history survey classes. The materials consist of an illustrated introduction, excerpts from four contemporaneous articles, an online quiz (not included in these materials), and an assignment for an e-mail discussion. The introduction describes not only the life of the immigrants in the United States but their economic and cultural background in China. The goal is to expand the students’ knowledge to include the China from which these immigrants came. Two of the articles oppose Chinese immigrants; two praise them. They are designed to let students see the varying perceptions of the immigrants, the arguments for and against Chinese immigration, and the complex class and ethnic dimensions of this controversy.

Download Module (PDF)

By Vincent A. Clark

Houston Community College

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Assignment

Like Shannon Bontrager, Cheryll Cody also designed a course assignment using the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. Hers requires students to answer a series of questions by looking at the database’s extensive collection of maps and charts.

By Cheryll Cody

Grossmont College

Video Assignment Based on Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune

Oscar Cañedo based this assignment on a Pacific theme: the California Gold Rush and the experiences of people traveling from South America to get to California. He used a story from prominent Latin American novelist Isabel Allende as a backdrop for the assignment. Students engaged in role playing, crafting their own characters based on Allende's novel Daughter of Fortune and producing videos to illustrate why they wished to make the arduous journey to California

By Oscar Cañedo

Curricular Materials: Colonial America and the Imperial US

Carlos Contreras provided both a blog post and curricular resources. The resources include a few examples of some classroom assignments and activities that challenge students to think "Atlantically" and "Pacifically" as they think broadly about American history. The first four consist of readings, primary sources, and film clips on the complexities of the Transatlantic slave trade and the broader Atlantic world during the colonial era. The other two focus on the expansion of the US as it becomes an imperial power and have students critically examine the US-Caribbean relationship, Hawaii and the Philippines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

By Carlos Contreras

Waubonsee Community College

Teaching the American Civil War from a Transoceanic Perspective

In the following, Timothy Draper and Amy Powers provide ideas for ways of bringing global contexts into a unit or course on the American Civil War. They include useful topics to cover, along with primary and secondary source readings. Topics include Karl Marx on the Civil War, the war's impact on Hawaii, and the experience of various immigrant groups during the war. For quick reference to topics and resources, AHA staff has created an HTML version The original PowerPoint presentation is also available for download.

By Timothy Draper and Amy Powers

Metropolitan Community College

Sample Assignments from Globalized US History Courses

Bridging Cultures participants found many methods for engaging students in their globalized US history courses. Amy Forss employed wide-ranging techniques such as PechaKucha presentations, oral history research, and greater study of maps. She even had her students find historical recipes and try them out.

By Amy Forss

Mt. San Antonio College

Resources for Faculty: Learning about the Pacific World

In this guide, Allison Frickert-Murashige provides reading recommendations for faculty looking to learn more themselves about the Pacific World before teaching it in their US history courses. She provides readings Bridging Cultures participants used to begin thinking about bringing the Pacific World into their courses, as well as recommended topics where this approach is useful.

Teaching Environmental History in the US and World History Survey Courses

This guide provides an overview of topics that faculty can consider in their survey courses in taking an environmental view of US and world history. It also provides a thorough list of recent scholarship on environmental history.

By Allison Frickert-Murashige

Suffolk County Community College

Incorporating the Atlantic and Pacific Worlds into a Foundations of American History Course

Sarah Grunder offers a detailed syllabus and two sample assignments, in which students use primary and secondary sources to connect American history with the Atlantic and Pacific worlds and write a paper that focuses on the circulation of commodities, peoples, and ideas throughout those worlds.

By Sarah Grunder

University of Texas at Dallas

Labor in the Atlantic World

By Kimberly Hill

Santa Monica College

Ethnicity/Culture and Environmental History

Leslie Kawaguchi's courses "Ethnicity and American Cultures" and "US Environmental History" already highlighted Atlantic and Pacific contexts. She found ways to expand her geographical focus, however, by taking a closer look at California, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

by Lesley Kawaguchi

Kapi'olani Community College

Course Materials on American and Hawaiian History 

This course revises traditional understandings of American history and examines issues of race, gender, and class in understanding the histories and contemporary experiences of Native Hawaiians, Asians, and Pacific Islanders to foster greater multi-cultural respect and understanding. Using multidisciplinary approaches (literary/historical analysis of primary and secondary sources), students will explore early encounters between whites, Native Hawaiians, and later Asians that would ultimately transform these societies and historical understandings of each group. This course will cover key events in American and Hawaiian history such as overseas exploration, colonization, migration, and war, and reexamine traditional historical accounts to include voices of women, minorities, and indigenous authors.


By Kelli Nakamura