Bridging World History
A multimedia course for secondary school and college teachers that looks at global patterns through time, seeing history as an integrated whole. Topics are studied in a general chronological order, but each is examined through a thematic lens, showing how people and societies experience both integration and differences. The Web site includes an archive of over 1000 primary source documents and artifacts, journal articles from the Journal of World History and other publications, and a thematic interactive activity on interrelationships across time and place.
1. Maps, Time, and World History—This unit begins the study of world history by examining its use of geographical and chronological frameworks: how they have shaped the understanding of world history and have been used to chart the past.
2. History and Memory—Topics in this unit range from the celebration of Columbus Day to the demolition of a Korean museum to the historical re-interpretation of Mayan civilization, exploring the ways historians, nations, families, and individuals capture, exploit, and know the past, and the dynamic nature of historical practice and knowledge.
3. Human Migrations—From their origins on the African continent, humans have spread across the globe. This unit explores how and why early humans moved across Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas, based on recent studies in archaeology and linguistics.
4. Agricultural and Urban Revolutions—Newly emerging evidence about the “cradles of civilization” is examined in light of the social, technological, and cultural complexity of recently discovered settlements and cities.
5. Early Belief Systems—In this unit, animism and shamanism in Shinto are contrasted with philosophical and ethical systems in early Greece and China, and the beginnings of Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Judaism.
6. Order and Early Societies—Through the rise of the Chinese empire, Mayan regional kingdoms, and the complex society of Igbo Ukwu, this unit considers the origins of centralized states and alternative political and social orders.
7. The Spread of Religions—As the missionaries, pilgrims, and converts of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam moved around the world, the religions created change and were themselves changed.
8. Early Economies—Manorial economies in Japan and medieval Europe are contrasted with the tribute economy of the Inka, and the experience of dramatic economic change is illustrated by the commercial revolution in China.
9. Connections Across Land—The Eurasian Silk Roads, the trans-Saharan Gold Roads, and the Meso-American Turquoise Road trace the transmission of commodities, religions, and diseases, as well as the movements of people.
10. Connections Across Water—The traders of the Indian Ocean, the early Mississippians, and the Norsemen carried death and disease, skills and technologies, philosophies and religion down rivers and across oceans.
11. Early Empires—Through the Mongol empire, the Mali empire, and the Inka empire, this unit examines the construction of empires, their administrative structures, legitimating ideologies, and the environmental and technological conditions that shaped them.
12. Transmission of Traditions—Islamic Spain, Korea, and West Africa provide examples of many different modes of transmission, including oral, written, artistic, and architectural.
13. Family and Household—In this unit examining West Asia, Europe, and China, families and households become the focus of historians, providing a window into the private experiences in world societies, and how they sometimes become a model for ordering the outside world.
14. Land and Labor Relationships—From Southeast Asia to Russia, Africa, and the Americas, the ratios between land availability and the usable labor force were the primary basis of pre-industrial economies, but politics, environment, and culture played a part as well.
15. Early Global Commodities—Before the sixteenth century, the world’s four main monetary substances were silver, gold, copper, and shells. But it was China’s demand for silver and Spain’s newly discovered mines in the Americas that finally created an all-encompassing network of global trade.
16. Food, Demographics and Culture—Studying the production and consumption of food allows historians to uncover hidden levels of meaning in social relationships, understand demographic shifts, and trace cultural exchange. This unit examines the earliest impact of globalization including changing cuisine, environmental impact, and the rise of forced labor as a global economic force.
17. Ideas Shape the World—This unit traces the impact of European Enlightenment ideals in the American and Haitian revolutions and in South America. It also examines the revitalization of Islam expressed in the Wahhabi movement as it spread from the Arabian peninsula to Africa and Asia.
18. Rethinking The Rise of the West—This unit recaps the economic and political events that led to the rise of the West, but examines and re-examines those events through differing opinions of its causes, reflecting changes in historical interpretation.
19. Global Industrialization—This unit links Cuba, Uruguay, Europe, and Japan, examining the impact of industry on trade, environment, culture, technology, and lives around the world.
20. Imperial Designs—The profound consequences of imperialism are examined in the South African frontier and Brazil, where politics, culture, industrial capitalism, and the environment were shaped and re-shaped.
21. Colonial Identities—From Zanzibar to India, colonial and post-colonial identities are examined through clothing.
22. Global War and Peace—This unit examines Japanese imperialism, the Belgian Congo, and twentieth century peace institutions to study how local, national, ethnic, and religious conflicts shaped these wars and their aftermaths.
23. People Shape the World—This unit examines the role of individual and collective action in shaping the world through the lives of such diverse figures as Mao Zedong, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo.
24. Globalization and Economics—This unit travels from the Soviet Union to Sri Lanka and Chile to study the role of technology and the impact of economic and political changes wrought by globalization.
25. Global Popular Culture—From World Cup soccer to Coca Cola, modern icons reflect the intertwined cultural, political, and commercial dimensions of globalization. This unit listens to and looks at the music and images of global production and consumption from reggae to the Olympics.
26. World History and Identity—This unit examines the transnational identity that emerged from the Chinese diaspora, and compares it to a newly re-defined national Chechen identity forged through war with Russia.
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