A thematic survey?

In my new job starting this fall, I’ve been assigned to teach two sections of Global History since 1900.  I think this is great. Really. I thought a lot about globalization over the course of writing my dissertation and I like the approach of thinking about the whole world—as big as it may be—rather than just the United States.

I finished a draft of my syllabus for this course this morning. I am determined, for better of for worse, to teach it thematically, rather than chronologically or geographically. Since I do only have a finite span of time to deal with, I’d rather explore topics, events, trends, and people as they relate thematically. So my themes are:

  • Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence (with topics ranging in date from the creation of the Panama Canal to the end of Apartheid)
  • The Global Cold War
  • Technology and Environment (exploring both the Green Revolution and the Internet)
  • Global Mass Culture (soccer, film, music, and other forms of consumer culture)

I really hope this works. I’m developing historical simulations, a Google-map exercise, hopefully a wiki-based timeline, and current event assignments that ideally will allow students to explore the past century while using many different parts of their brains.

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