History for the 21st Century:
Redesigning the college history introductory curriculum
History for the 21st Century (“H21”) is a collaborative project designed to enable college and university faculty to effectively introduce 21st century students to the study of history. The project encompasses both the reconceptualization of introductory history courses and the development of materials to support those courses. This prospectus lays out the rationale for this effort, defines the scope of the project, and proposes a program by which its goals can be achieved.
Rationale and Scope
The fundamental premises of teaching history at the college level is to enable students to understand some portion of past human experience, to connect that experience to their lives in meaningful ways, and to equip students with the analytic and epistemological tools to assess historical evidence. Changes in the nature, focus, and preparation of college students, educational technology, pedagogical approaches, and college curricular requirements mean that traditional formats, course structures, and specific historical materials need to be adapted into this new environment. Within this context, H21 aims to focus on:
H21 seeks to achieve our goals through a collaborative process involving experienced teachers, writers, and specialists in history education. We envision a platform through which materials can be made available to students, and in which faculty can comment and revise the teaching materials offered and exchange ideas on both the design of introductory history courses and the materials and techniques used to help students understand history, its tools, and its benefits. There is no good single existing model of what we envision; but it would partake of H-Net, academic journals, Wikipedia, as well as several other history projects such as Facing History, American Yawp!, and World History for Us All.
The H21 platform will make available the output of two connected work projects. The first will offer to faculty access to a discipline-wide discussion ideas, models, and critique on the development of college history introductory courses.
The second, the H21 curriculum (name not yet decided), will comprise a series of teaching materials to be used in the classroom. These elements can be used independently or combined into modules. We believe that many modules will combine student readings, lecture and activity guidance and plans, exercises, assessment tools, sources, and other materials which instructors can use in their course. These materials will likely initially be developed by volunteer experts in their fields. The H21 platform will provide a forum in which faculty could discuss their experience in using the module, as well as suggest alternative frameworks and materials. This type of on-going discussion has been shown to not only improve and enrich the materials available, but—as importantly—foster an informed and supportive community of teachers.
In addition, H21 will establish an on-going program to understand faculty needs as a basis to promote faculty awareness and use of these materials. This will include understanding the faculty process for materials adoption, conference workshops, social media posts and forums, and cooperative relationships with the leading professional associations (e.g., AHA, OAH, WHA, AACU, AACC) and college systems (e.g. CSU).
Work and Organization
H21 will establish an editorial board to commission an initial set of materials [TRG2] for instructors’ use:
The Board will oversee the editing, publication and revision of the modules according to a set of substantive and development guidelines, including drafting/editing/testing, copyediting, copyright clearances, and publishing formats.
All work will be commissioned under contract in which H21 will offer materials under a Creative Commons copyright. H21 will compensate module authors, invited user/reviewers, and principal editors, as well as support personnel.
How to think about teaching World History – H21 may sponsor an on-going electronic platform for discussion of these issues under the guidance of a separate editorial board.