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Editor's Message

Marc Jason Gilbert


     This forum introduces the idea of teaching "The World Since 1945" in place of the world history surveys now commonplace in the general education curriculum. Its authors argue that such a course "deserves consideration as an attractive alternative to either a two-semester World History sequence or a one-semester grand sweep of the history of humanity." They also contend "that if the goal is to turn students on to how and why history matters, and to the reasons studying world history is important," a world since 1945 approach may work better than the standard surveys. Northeastern University's Heather Streets-Salter, a former editor of this journal, introduces the advantages of this approach. That introduction is followed by three articles addressing some themes and resources that can be used to support such a course. Malcolm Purinton, a four-time teacher of the course, discusses ways of organizing its material, exploring whether or not such a class should be organized chronologically, regionally, or thematically. Samantha Christiansen, Assistant Professor and Director of Women's Studies at Marywood University, offers specific advice for incorporating gender analysis and the study of women into "The World Since 1945" course assignments, lectures, and discussions. James Bradford, a specialist in modern Afghanistan, now Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music, outlines a classroom activity that is at once interactive and also informative about political and social organization in Afghanistan: he asks students to experience it themselves through organizing their own loya jurga. Though he supplies all of the elements instructors might need to adopt this activity, his essay also suggests ways of incorporating interactive activities of their own device into any world history course.

The Forum's intent to encourage new ways of thinking about what world historians do and how they can best go about sharing it is pursued by three further articles. Lauren McArthur Harris and Tamara L. Shreiner explore "concept formation" as a factor in how students frame, or fail to frame, learned responses when examining world historical processes.  Eva-Maria Swidler addresses what historical ideas and presumptions students bring with them into the history classroom and how historians must engage these presumptions more closely to achieve their instructional goals. Jane Bolgatz and Michael Marino offer a content review of secondary school world history texts that will prepare instructors at any level of instruction, particularly new instructors, to better evaluate the advantages or disadvantages of a number world history textbooks, not just at that level, but above it, as high school texts often are versions of university textbooks by the same authors.  

In sum, this issue of World History Connected reminds us that world history is too dynamic to become complacent about its form and content, and continues to demand the highest standard of pedagogy, as well as research, whether applied or theoretical. 

Readers are invited to submit research-based articles on scholarly or pedagogical subjects and are especially urged to consider contributing to forums, which in the near future will be devoted to the military, religious conversion, graphic novels, port cites and food in world history.  Book reviews are welcome as are reviews of the literature on world history topics.

Marc Jason Gilbert, Editor

Hawaii Pacific University

Marc Jason Gilbert is Professor of History and National Endowment for the Humanities Endowed Chair in World History at Hawai'i Pacific University. He can be reached at


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