The H/21 initiative launched in August 2019 with a meeting at SFSU of leading history educators (including veterans of significant world history textbook projects) from around the country.
Bob Bain’s (University of Michigan) keynote reviewed the long history of incomplete efforts at broad curricular reform and challenged us to be comprehensive, creative, community-focused, and effective. We asked participants to consider such elements as the challenges noted in our opening paragraph, the reliance on overworked contingent faculty (as well as the workload of tenure-track faculty), changing historiographical frameworks, and what we know about effective learning. The result was a provocative set of ideas and proposals that developed from both precirculated papers and brief on-site presentations. Some of the papers pushed us to think about how introductory courses can recruit new majors; others emphasized serving communities that will likely never take another history course. Some participants urged us to meet students where they are; others advocated pushing them in new directions. Some attendees provided concrete suggestions for content, format, activities, and assessments that are tried and tested; others proposed truly novel approaches.
After the conference, we organized a board and began to set to work!