Under the Baobab: Conversations & Community in World History

Pandem Mondus 2020 Conference Program Under the Baobab

Our response to the global coronavirus pandemic

The WHA is concerned for the health and well-being of our members, this year’s annual meeting participants, and the global community. After careful consideration of current news reports, published scientific research, ongoing information from the CDC and WHO, government and public health recommendations internationally and at the federal and state levels in the US, and consultations with public health experts, the WHA regretfully cancelled the 2020 annual meeting. You can read the President’s message to members announcing the cancellationhere. 

The WHA understands the unprecedented level of uncertainty faced by all of our members in this globally-transformational period of history, and the outright precarity these changes bring for many of you. We join with the American Sociological Association, the Modern Language Association, and the American Historical Associationin calling for all institutions where world historians work to exercise compassion, provide prompt and clear guidelines about revised labor expectations, and provide ongoing financial support to employees. We recognize that terms of employment vary widely across the globe. While our sister organizations address their calls for clarity and support mainly to decision makers in higher education in the US and Canada, the WHA explicitly extends this message globally and also addresses the circumstances of our colleagues in elementary and secondary education. Teachers at all levels should have the option of eliminating evaluations of their work during this period from their professional reviews. Institutions should offer students the option of revised grading standards, adapted year-end exams, and alternative forms assessment in grade levels where such evaluations are practiced. 

The WHA also acknowledges the extent to which the consequences of this pandemic lay bare global and local inequalities. Where casual or informal labor predominates, where basic sanitation and healthcare are inadequate, where the material and technological infrastructure is not sufficient to mitigate the consequences of social distancing, and where available housing simply does not permit distancing between households, the consequences of quarantine and consequent economic contraction will be magnified. 

A learned society is not in a position to single handedly tip the scales of global inequities. Our members are, however, uniquely positioned to document the worldwide scope and differential consequences of this unprecedented transformation in human history. 

Historians and teachers worldwide: if the WHA can help you access materials, connect you with peers in other countries, or assist in your documentation of how the coronavirus pandemic and mitigation efforts affect your community, please contact us. 

Why join the WHA?

Members receive a significant discount on the registration fee for the annual WHA conference, including our exciting 2021 conference in Bilbao, Spain, the largest city in the Basque Country . Members also get a free on-line access to the Journal of World History, in addition to other benefits.

For more information, see the membership information page—or join or renew now!

The World History Bulletin Needs You!

The World History Bulletin is the semiannual publication of the World History Association that is devoted to raising questions, fostering debates, developing pedagogy, and evolving the field of world history. We welcome short-form essays (roughly 1,500–3,000 words in length). As teachers around the world adapt to distance learning, the Spring 2020 issue of the World History Bulletin will focus on what this means for world history education, researchers, teachers, and students. We invite contributions on how world historical perspectives inform our understanding of the present pandemic and global response; histories of disease; histories of global communication (and communicable disease!) and the like. Please send inquiries and submissions to guest editor Laura J. Mitchell: mitchell@uci.edu.

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