Curated Online WH Resources

With the sudden requirement that instructors around the world pivot to online instruction, the need for free, high-quality digital teaching resources is greater than ever. Now available in beta-form, the World History Commons is an open education resource (OER) developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) in partnership with the World History Association; it features a wide variety of materials related to world history.

image of a man
Nate Sleeter

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, World History Commons revitalizes and enhances widely-used resources from World History Matters, the award-winning collection of world history websites developed by the over the past twenty years, as well as the Global History Reader, a collaboration between scholars at Monash University (Australia) and Warwick University (UK). Over the next year and a half we will add more materials to the site with the goal of introducing new humanities scholarship to researchers, teachers, and students.

World History Commons is organized into 4 main sections

The Methods section presents scholarly overviews of key questions and issues in world history (e.g., “What is global history?” and “The problem of time”) designed especially for scholars, teachers, and students who are new to world history. This is especially critical given the many voices and disciplines involved in world history, a field that represents multiple approaches to substantive debates about periodization, geographical units, and the role of national and local histories in global stories. This section also provides practical guidance in research methods and annotated bibliographies that offer scholarly resources for digging more deeply.

The Teaching section introduces commonly taught topics in world history along with selected primary and secondary sources, discussion questions, teaching strategies, differentiation, interactive activities, and annotated bibliographies. These resources bring scholarly expertise to the classroom, including content and pedagogical strategies designed for world history.

The Sources section presents primary sources from world and global history, including images, objects, texts, and digitally-born materials, along with introductions, strategies for analysis, and guiding questions. Examples include a contract signed between the Dutch East India Company and a group of Japanese mercenaries, which teachers and students can, with context, use to shed light on the race for spices and the first instance of corporate genocide.

The Reviews section provide a curated guide to the best online content, large and small, in world history through website reviews from the perspective of a world history teacher. This includes robust yet focused archives in multiple languages as well as experimental data visualizations and interactives, such as Sejarah Nusantara, a digital archive for international researchers studying the history of Indonesia and maritime Southeast Asia developed by the National Archives in Indonesia (Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia) or Visualising Angkor, a 3D model of Angkor Wat based on recent archaeological findings where students can explore temples, village life, and surrounding areas. Reviews address scholarly and pedagogical issues, including how to guide student exploration and contextualize resources, as well as questions of language and translation and larger thematic connections.

Willem Blaeu, “Africae Novo” map, 1630. World History Commons.

We at RRCHNM are committed to developing free and sustainable resources in the area of history education. It is our hope that World History Commons provides a resource that teachers of world history can rely on for many years to come.

By Nate Sleeter

Research Assistant Professor, George Mason University & WHA member