On the Value of World History as a General Education Requirement

AHA Session 181
World History Association 8
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Williford C (Hilton Chicago, Third Floor)
Pete Burkholder, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Matthew T. Herbst, University of California, San Diego

Session Abstract

This panel suggests that world history offers particular value for gateway courses in the undergraduate curriculum. As institutions review and assess their general education plans, they are compelled to offer a rationale and justification for assigning particular requirements and for articulating the outcomes that students are expected to achieve through those requirements. In this process, there are many practical and pedagogical concerns at play. These range from “time to degree” for undergraduate students and workload for faculty (the problem of who will teach such courses), to debates and tensions between distributional and integrative approaches (with required core or thematic courses), and disciplinary competition for a greater slice of the undergraduate experience. This panel specifically addresses the place of World History in this conversation. With its examination of common patterns that cross geographic and cultural boundaries, World History encompasses the study of the experience of being human, with a major focus on the process of integration (how the people of the world have been drawn together) and difference (how patterns of world history reveal the diversity of the human experience). The panel addresses the case to be made for World History as a valuable component of general education along with the challenges and opportunities that arise as a result.

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