World History: Global Exchange*



Dr. Berry's Approach to Teaching and Goals for Learning for World History!

Dear Students:

I teach a little diffferently than most. I do not assume to know everything about history or even everything about that which we are learning on any given day. I assume you all know a LOT about a LOT of stuff I know nothing about. Thus, our learning enterprise is one of cooperation and mutual respect. This also means that we share the work load. I will not spout to you and have your regurgitate "the" answer on formal tests. Instead we will seek understanding together and will assess our understanding through projects and papers. I WILL expect you to engage valiantly in the content of our study, ask good questions, be curious about the world around you and our topics of study, and bring enthusiasm (it really is as important as your computer, your books, and your notebooks)) everyday to class. YOU will more often than not be the teachers in this class, and I hope you will grab ahold of that opportunity with gusto.

I also try to innovate routinely in the classroom. Sometimes my brilliant ideas work brilliantly and sometimes they don't. The most important thing for all of us to continually strive for as we learn (and teaching is a form of learning) is to try, to be okay if we fail, and then to try again. My promise to you is that I will give you my very best every day, and I will expect the same in return. I will be patient when things don't go just right for you, and I expect the same from you. I expect to have a lot of fun this year, and I expect the same from you.

When the year is over I hope we have all learned a little bit about the essential essence of human existence, the fundamental shifts in the course of human experience over the long run, the impact of technology and movement on people and the environment, and the fascinating ways in which different cultures have defined meaning in their own lives.

But most importantly, I hope we learn a lot about who we are as people, citizens of the United States, and members of the global village. In the process, I hope that we nurture our most creative, thoughtful, and empathetic selves. If I manage to help you think with a global perpsective about your own life, facilitate your respect for difference, and spark an interest in you to keep learning and thinking about history, then my year will have been a success. I will be asking in the first days of class what a successful year in World History will look like for you -- be ready to share your goals for the year in class!

Here's to a fantastic year,

Dr. Berry



* Source and Idea Acknowledgement: I am grateful to the World History For Us All project at San Diego State University. I followed Professor Dunn's work when I was in graduate school and appreciate all he has done for secondary teaching. This is my first year teaching World History, and while I wanted to teach thematically, as I do in my US History course (the field in which I have my doctorate), I was struggling mightily with how to organize the beast of World History around themes and still have some breadth of coverage. Professor Dunn and all those working on the project gave me just enough food for thought to get me going! I have borrowed liberally from their material (including our class mascot Wallie -- see above), but I have also changed many of their ideas considerably to suit my needs.


The Dream of La Malinche

Global (or World) History at St. Gregory

Globalization is everywhere. Consider the amount of interaction a typical member of the St. Gregory community has with the world: We have toys made in China at McDonald's. We can Skype with a dear friend in Brazil. We wear clothes designed in New York but made with cotton grown in Africa and with labor from Pakistan. We eat bananas grown in Ecuador and drink soda with sugar harvested in Cuba. We listen to music with roots in Africa and Europe. We drink water mined in Canada from plastic bottles made in Vietnam. Our government (or at least the skeleton of it) comes from Europe long, long ago. Our cars are powered by oil drilled by a transnational firm whose parent company is from Britain but whose wells are in waters the whole world really shares. This lived reality IS globalization. This Global (or World) History course will seek to bring some understanding for how we got to this place. We will explore all kinds of interesting cultures and processes with three BIG questions guiding us always:

How (and when) did the world became enmeshed in interdependent economic, environmental, and cultural relationships?

What has it meant to be human over time?

What does it mean to live in this new(?) global reality for each one of us?

Image Source: Ruíz, Antonio. El sueño de la Malinche [“The Dream of Malinche”]. Oil on canvas, 11 7/8 x 15 3/4”. Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City, 1939.

The Thematic Approach

But, if you are thinking critically, you might wonder -- a history of the WHOLE WORLD? In only one year?!?! How is that possible? It's not, so we are not even going to pretend to try to learn the WHOLE HISTORY of the WHOLE WORLD in one year. Instead, we will march through 6 BIG ERAs. In each Big Era, we will learn about three main themes:

Theme 1: Humans and the non-human Environment. In this theme we will discuss the ways in which human societies (a few of the more important ones) transformed the earth to their benefit. We will focus, in particular, on how the world changed in terms of human food systems, energy systems, and building systems.

Theme 2: Humans and other Humans. In this theme, we will discuss how humans have shared their lives with other humans and how some humans have sought to dominate others. This theme will include the ways different cultures have understood different gender roles and family relationships, how people have moved and migrated over time, how people have worked to provide for themselves and those close to them, and how some people oppressed others and how that oppression led to revolution and revolt.

Theme 3: Humans and Ideas. History is not just about the experiences people had, but it is also about how people understand those experiences to make sense of their lives. Here we will investigate some of the most important of the world religions, the development and importance of western scientific thought, and a few of the more effective (and/or popular) forms of political governance.

Check out the Table below if you are a little confused! The stuff in the boxes are just examples of the kinds of things we'll be learning. You will get a bigger copy of that table, and we will fill it in with stuff we've learned as we go through the year!


Theme 1


Theme 2

Humans Interacting with Each Other

Theme 3

Humans interacting with Ideas Theme

Big Era1 10,000 BCE-500CE

agriculture starts

  rise of monotheisitc (one God) religions

Big Era2500CE-1492CE

  Europe begins to colonize Americas!  

Big Era3 1492-1750 CE

  the age of slavery

Europe's Enlightenment

Big Era4 1750-1850CE


The United States and its unique form of government forms

Big Era5 1850-1950   Age of World War  
Big Era6 1950-present     Civil Rights

(BTW -- CE means "Common Era" and BCE means "Before the Common Era." The Common Era begins with the generally agreed upon date of the birth of Jesus Christ.)


Project Based Assessment

In each Big Era, we will judge our learning through Projects. Sometimes you will work alone, sometimes with others. Always we will use the projects as an assessment (a way of knowing and figuring out what we learned during the time we studied the Big Era). If you'd like to see brief descriptions of the Projects, click here!



| ©2010Michelle Berry