Pandemic WH Pedagogy from UC Berkeley

What do World History teachers need to know in order to teach during a pandemic?


t feels like a million years ago, but in the first week of March, most K-12 schools were still open. Public health officials were warning people to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their faces. My colleagues and I in a consortium of Professional Development providers at UC Berkeley asked Dr. Fenyong Liu (UC Berkeley, School of Public Health) to do a webinar specifically for teachers.


What did teachers, specifically, need to do? What guidance could a public health expert give to a teacher managing 35+ young people in a tight space? Based on the course of the virus in China, what might they expect in the near future?

We scheduled the event for Monday, March 16 – one week away – and then turned our attention to considering what else teachers might need in the coming weeks. The school landscape was radically shifting. LA Unified announced its closure Friday, March 13 and then just hours before our program began the six Bay Area Counties announced the first shelter-in-place order. Even before the event featuring Dr. Liu, we set to work on a slate of additional offerings.

I am the program coordinator for ORIAS, a one-person office at UC Berkeley that works to expand teachers’ knowledge and teaching about international and global topics. World History teachers make up a substantial portion of the ORIAS community.

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As I considered how I could be useful, I wondered, “What do World History teachers need to know in order to teach during a pandemic?” The result is a series called Global Views of COVID 19. Each session looks at the unfolding pandemic in a particular place, from a particular angle.

The goal is simple: Help teachers understand their own experience within a global context so that they can help their students do the same.

Two programs lend themselves to easy classroom use. Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic in India and Indonesia (4/7), featuring Dr. Siddharth Chandra, compares the 1918 event in India, Indonesia, and the US. Teachers who are currently incorporating the 1918 Influenza into their courses will find immediate lesson applications. The second, Documenting a Pandemic: Past and Present (4/9), is a collaboration with the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project. It is focused around the teacher-created COVID 19 Student Journal Assignment, and will feature presentations by Dr. Monica Green and teacher Bryan Shaw.

Other scheduled upcoming events include:

Global Views on COVID 19: Middle East Context (4/14)

Global Views on COVID 19: Context and Responses in South Asia (4/17)

And soon to be announced: a panel presentation and discussion byK-12 teachers in multiple European countries about teaching during the pandemic; the view from Rwanda, featuring Drs. Beth Kaplin and Karolina Uwantege; and a program about the ways in which the Brazilian and US experiences mirror one another, featuring Dr. Elize Massard de Fonseca.

In the works: a look at how COVID 19 is interacting with the pre-existing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kazakhstan and a program about the pandemic in Russia.

All educators welcome!

By Shane Carter

WHA member


The American comic book was born in 1933, first as a collection of popular newspaper comic strips published in a tabloid-sized magazine. By the end of the twentieth century, comic books and related art and media grew into a global, multi-billion-dollar industry.