The AHA hosted a professional development program in 2012-2016 to promote a global perspective on US history at the country’s increasingly diverse two-year institutions. “American History, Atlantic and Pacific” drew on a generation of innovative scholarship that reframed the origins of the United States within a broad geographical and chronological context. Community college faculty participating in the program created or revised US history courses with lessons, units, and other work to deepen teaching on the United States in the world.

For the resources developed under this project, visit Globalizing the US History Survey: Resources. 


“American History, Atlantic and Pacific”

Cheryll Ann Cody (Houston Community Coll.) and Kevin Reilly (Raritan Valley Community Coll.) served as the AHA’s lead advisers on this project. Pairs of faculty from twelve community-colleges across the country—a total of twenty-four faculty members—attended two annual seminars augmented by year-round activities online and by a final conference.

Building on the emerging concept of “rim” cultures, the group’s explorations were guided by two distinguished scholars. William Deverell (Univ. of Southern California and Huntington Library), who led the first project institute at the Huntington Library, in San Marino, California, January 14-18, 2013. The first institute focused on the Pacific Ocean, especially the peoples and geomorphology of its eastern rim, as an organizing theme for understanding global connections within the history of imperial North America and the early US republic between 1600 and 1850.

The following year Philip Morgan (Johns Hopkins Univ.) led an institute on the Atlantic Rim at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, January 6-10, 2014. This institute used the Atlantic World, 1450-1850, as a framework for exploring intercultural contact, political and economic development, and the emergence of an American society on the precipice of civil war.

The project culminated in a conference held concurrently with the AHA annual meeting in January 2015 in New York. Participants shared their work with one another and key administrators from their respective institutions. The final phase of the project included professional development opportunities at regional AHA conferences, where participants spoke about the transformation of their courses and networked with other community college faculty.

Video Resources

In these videos, project participants discuss their work creating or revising US history courses with lessons, units, and other work that deepens teaching on the US in the world.

Further Reading

Nike Nivar, “Bridging Cultures: Strengthening Introductory History Courses,” Perspectives on History (January 2013).

Robert B. Townsend, “Bridging Cultures Institute Underway at the Huntington Library,” Perspectives on History (January 2013).

AHA Staff, “Pacific Worlds and the U.S. History Survey: Kicking Off the AHA’s Bridging Cultures Project at the Huntington,” Perspectives on History (February 2013).

Dana Schaffer, “Atlantic Worlds and the US History Survey: The AHA’s Bridging Cultures Project at the Library of Congress,” Perspectives on History (March 2014).

Joy Schulz, “Bridging Cultures at the Annual Meeting: Perspectives from a Community College Historian,” Perspectives on History (January 2015).

Shannon Bontrager, “Pizza, PechaKucha, and Pedagogy,” Perspectives on History (February 2015).