Under the Baobab


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The Covid-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed teaching and learning and will have a lasting effect on how we practice historical scholarship. What does that mean for you? How have your colleagues responded? What insights, tips, and new questions have emerged in our recent collective experience that can shape world history moving forward? Join your friends and colleagues in the World History Association for a series of online gatherings designed to spark your curiosity, develop debate, and deepen your engagement with the field.

Each session will present new research, practical teaching applications, hands-on engagement, and lively conversation.

#8) Under the Baobab “Writing for the Public: History and Journalism”

Wednesday, 5 May, 11:00 am-12:30 pm PST/1:00 pm-2:30 pm CST

In this session of Under the Baobab, we think closely about how journalists write history for large audiences. In doing so, we examine the use of public history through a number of different media, including print, podcasts, webcasts, and more. Our presenters will talk about their own experiences doing history from a journalistic angle, before opening a question and answer session moderated by Jack Norton.

Jack Norton is the Chair of Normandale Community College’s Department of History and Political Science. He is an active WHA member and Chair of the Community College Committee.

Dinée Dorame is a podcaster who discusses running, culture, land and community. She is a graduate of Yale University.

David Henry Montgomery is a journalist and aspiring polymath with a drive to explain the world. Currently, he’s a data journalist with MPR News in Minnesota, using data analysis and visualizations to cover politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything else. Before then, he was a data visualization journalist for CityLab. He also produces The Siècle, a multimedia project devoted to telling the story of France’s history from 1814 to 1914.

Varsha Venkatasubramanian is a graduate student focusing on the history of dams in the US and the World as it relates to foreign policy, policy history, environmental movements, and legal history. She is particularly interested in US-India relations and infrastructure projects during the 1950s to the 1980s. She co-hosts Drinking with Historians, a webcast virtual happy hour with scholars who study the past.

David Perry is a freelance journalist covering politics, history, education, and disability rights. He is also the Undergraduate Advisor in the History Department at the University of Minnesota.

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#7) Under the Baobab “Rethinking the World History Survey: New Approaches”

Friday, 5 February, 12:00 pm, PST/3 pm, EST

Ditch the survey? No, refresh the survey!

Join colleagues from a range of institutions (public, private, community college), as we think about how to renew and invigorate the World History survey to make it meaningful and relevant to today’s students. The scholar-teachers on this roundtable discuss how to infuse perspectives from postcolonial history, urban history, Big History, local history and migration studies into world history survey classes, as well as how best to assess students in the survey.  After the initial presentations, participants will be asked to share their own innovations and practices in reinvigorating the survey.

Moderator: Prof. Trevor Getz (San Francisco State University), Prof. Michael G. Vann (Sacramento State University), Prof. Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall (California State University – San Marcos), Prof. Tony Acevedo (Hudson Community College), and Prof. Marc Gilbert (Hawaii Pacific University; past president of the WHA).

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#6) Under the Baobab “Comics, World History, and the Classroom”

Wednesday 16 December  4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, PST / 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm EST

This event will focus on the opportunities and pitfalls of using comics in the World History classroom. Taking a broad approach to what constitutes a “comic,” this discussion will lead off with brief examples from our panelists about how we’ve used comics in the classroom and the most common questions we face. During breakout sessions each room will deconstruct an example comic, exploring the pedagogical utility of the medium and considering the broader themes of discussion, like: the tension between historicity and formalism, what archival access looks like, and how language offers barriers and opportunities for our World classroom.

Dr. Maryanne Rhett (Monmouth University), Dr. Elizabeth Pollard (San Diego State University), Lawrence Abrams (PhD Candidate, University of California, Davis), Kaleb Knoblauch (PhD Candidate, University of California, Davis), Alonso Nunez (Executive Director of Little Fish Comic Book Studio) and Pamela Jackson (Popular Culture Librarian and Comic Arts Curator at SDSU).

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#5) Under the Baobab “Biography in World History: Sex, Lies, and Secrets”

Saturday 17 October 10:30 am – noon, PDT/1:30 pm – 3 pm EDT

This event will focus on the challenges of creating and using biographies in world history. What is the relationship between the individual and the broader patterns of the past? How do historians navigate the history of gender diversities? What can the narrative of individual lives bring to the world history classroom?

Dr. Candice Goucher (Washington State University), Editor of Women Who Changed the World (ABC-CLIO, 2021) will be joined by: Dr. Yaari Felber-Seligman (City College of New York), Dr. Bashabi Fraser (Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies, Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Dundee and Honorary Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh) and Dr. Suzanne Litrel (American Historical Association).

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#4) Under the Baobab “Maritime History as World History”

Wednesday 23 September 12 noon – 1:30 pm, PDT/3 pm – 4:30 pm EDT

What does maritime history have to do with world history? In A World at Sea (Penn Press), a new volume edited by Lauren Benton and Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, nine contributors reflect on the promise and prospect of a global approach to maritime history. Drawing on social history, history of science, legal history, and many other approaches, the authors consider how the study of the sea and seafaring can inform and alter narratives in world history and the contributions that a global lens can make to maritime history.

Please join us for an interactive, audience-driven discussion with participation from Benton and Perl-Rosenthal along with many of the volume’s contributing authors: Jeppe Mulich, Matthew Raffety, Margaret Schotte, Lisa Norling, Carla Rahn Phillips, and Catherine Phipps.

#3) Under the Baobab “Reframing Revolutions: Centering Indigenous, Black, and Women’s Voices in the Age of Revolutions”

Tuesday 28 July 4:30 – 6:00 pm, PDT

It is easy to replicate dominant perspectives on the “Age of Revolutions” in ways that marginalize the historical agency and influence of people of color, indigenous people, and women. This session highlights strategies and materials to support interventions that correct this bias by centering the actions of marginalized people, such as indigenous Andeans or enslaved Haitians, complicating the role of the Enlightenment in the Age of Revolution, and by incorporating the stories of women as revolutionaries.

  • Eric Beckman of Anoka High School Anoka, MN has taught World, US, and European History with high school students for thirty years, first in California and now in Minnesota. Eric presents professional development sessions on globalizing World History and teaching historical thinking and World History for state and national organizations. Eric has a Master of Liberal Studies Degree from the University of Minnesota with a focus on the racial dynamics of housing in post-World War II American cities.
  • Bram Hubbell of Friends’ Seminary, NY, has taught world history at the Seminary in New York City for nearly twenty years. He has also taught courses on the modern Middle East, peace and non-violence in the twentieth century, and the relationship between humanity and the environment. He was the co-chair of the AP World History Test Development Committee and Curriculum Redesign Committees from 2008 – 2012. He also maintains the blog,
    Liberating Narratives which is focused on decolonizing world history.
  • Angela Lee of Weston High School, Weston, MA has been a world history educator in Weston for twenty years. She has been teaching AP World since its inception and was one of 90+ readers in Lincoln at the first reading in 2002. From 2013 – 2017, Angela served as a member of the APWH Test Development Committee. She is currently a member of the WHA Executive Council and chair of the WHA Social Media Committee.

This session will include presentations from each speaker, followed by an interactive discussion and closing conversations.

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#2) Under the Baobab “Roads and Oceans — The Journal of World History’s 30th Birthday”

Monday 20 July, 4:30-6 PM Pacific, 7:30-9 PM Eastern

This Under the Baobab gathering was hosted by Candice Goucher, who was in conversation with Matt Romaniello, Editor of JWH and David Christian, Lauren Benton, and Jennifer Gaynor about their papers, the relevance of their work today, and the current state of the field. Editor Matthew Romaniello curated the issue, “Roads and Oceans,” selecting papers based on use statistics and the thematic trends over the last three decades.

Lauren Benton, The Legal Regime of the South Atlantic World, 1400 – 1750: Jurisdictional Complexity as Institutional Order (2000)

David Christian, Silk Roads or Steppe Roads: The Silk Roads in World History (2000)

Jennifer Gaynor, Ages of Sail, Ocean Basins, and Southeast Asia (2013)

For more on this issue of the JWH, see: http://bit.ly/jwh30th

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#1) Under the Baobab “How Can History Help You During a Pandemic?”

Wednesday 27 May, 4-5:30 PM Pacific, 7-8:30 PM Eastern

What’s the point of taking a history class now? History teachers know that historical thinking skills help students evaluate sources and arguments in the past and the present, but communicating that to our students is a challenge, particularly now. The sources and strategies shared in this session offer paths to engaging students and connecting historical thinking skills to their lived experiences in the context of our new normal.

Sharon Cohen, Springbrook High School, Silver Spring Maryland

Bennett Sherry, OER Project and World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh

Shane Carter, ORIAS Program Coordinator, UC Berkeley


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