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World History & Literature Initiative (WHaLI)

Lei Duan (left), presenter, and Bob Bain, faculty director, at the 2018 World History and Literature Initiative.

The World History and Literature Initiative (WHaLI) is a unique collaboration between area studies Centers in the International Institute and the U-M School of Education, funded in part by Title VI grants from the U.S. Department of Education, with additional funding from the International Institute and the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. 

Since 2009, WHaLI has provided over 500 K-12 teachers in the fields of history, social studies, and English language arts with area studies curriculum content and professional development.

Held each year, WHaLI is a three-day workshop designed to improve teachers’ capacity to teach world history and literature by providing them with area studies resources and content. New initiatives to broaden the reach of WHaLI include opportunities for early career or beginning teachers to work with experienced teachers and scholars, and the use of livestream webcasting technology and on-site facilitators to reach teachers outside the Ann Arbor area.

2019 World History and Literature Initiative | Empire, Decolonization & Independence in Global History & Literature
December 6-7 & December 14, 2019

Today, we live in a world of a few hundred nation-states. “Yet,” historians Burbank and Cooper argue, “the world of nation-states we take for granted is scarcely sixty years old”. People lived, throughout most of human history, in empires, states that never claimed to represent a single group of people or a nation. Such imperial systems were durable, ruling over vast territories for long durations of time. The Ottoman Empire and the Roman Empire, for example, each lasted for almost seven hundred years, the Mongols and Comanche Empires for about two centuries, while some have argued the Chinese Empire endured for well over 4,000 years. All empires faced resistance and rebellion in some form and to some degree.

Imperial systems and those who have opposed, resisted, and rebelled against imperial power, politics, and culture have played a long and important role in global history. Given how important empires, decolonization, and independence movements have been, it is not surprising that we have a rich historical, literary and artistic heritage that captures the impact empires and liberation from imperial control has had on individuals, peoples, communities, and the world.

The World History and Literature Initiative’s (WHaLI) three-day conference for secondary teachers will focus on these issues using examples drawn from different historical times and areas of the world. In addition to helping teachers develop their knowledge and understanding of this Empires, imperial practices, independence movements and decolonization in world history and literature, the conference also illuminates challenges students face in learning such content and explores ways teachers might meet those challenges. WHaLI conference provides participants with relevant resources as well as lunch and refreshments. This year we will meet on December 6 (Friday), December 7 (Saturday) and December 14 (Saturday).

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED

This initiative was made possible by US Department of Education Title VI funds.

U-M Sponsors:

U-M Sponsors: School of Education, International Institute, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, Center for Japanese Studies, Nam Center for Korean Studies, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Center for South Asian Studies, Center for Middle East and North African Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, African Studies Center, Armenian Studies Program, and the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies.

Past Conference Themes

Since its inception, we have successfully met our goals in helping over 500 Michigan teachers improve their approach to teaching world history. Over the past grant cycle, 90% of participants claim they plan to use concepts and materials from the workshops with many indicating that they are also likely to share these resources with colleagues.

Past conference themes include:

  • 2009: Encounters & Exchanges
  • 2010: Navigating Scales
  • 2011: Age of Global Revolutions
  • 2012: Global Crisis & Achievement
  • 2013: The Cold War & Its Aftermath
  • 2014: The City Across Space & Time
  • 2015: Using Literature to Teach History
  • 2016: Global Human Rights & Human Dignity
  • 2017: Resistance & Rebellion
  • 2018: Migration in Human History & Literature