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Uncovering World History Volume Two

First Edition

Series Editor Trevor Getz, Author Kris Lane, Allison Scardino Belzer, Audrey Diptée, and Felicia Viator

Available: 21 August 2020

ISBN: 9780197547540

Online Resource


What proficiencies should history majors possess when they graduate? What threshold skills should a student bring to the history major? What competencies does a lower-division history course provide as part of a liberal education or a general education program? How can these capabilities and aptitudes be taught in the short class time, constrained circumstances, and diverse classrooms of today's universities?

These are questions that matter deeply to history instructors seeking strategies that embrace the teaching of historical competencies for student success and lifelong achievement and at the same time produce a durable understanding of the lessons and themes that can only come from an appreciation of the past. Over the past decade, Trevor Getz has made the argument that content can be interwoven with skills in carefully designed modules that are delivered to students by in an affordable and engaging, active-learning environment. The result is Uncovering World History, a series of digital modules designed to make History meaningful and memorable for students by teaching them the skills to "Do History."


  • Makes History meaningful and memorable for students by teaching them the skills to "Do History"
  • Offers an affordable and efficient approach for developing historical thinking skills
  • Carefully designed by Trevor Getz, recipient of the AHA's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, Uncovering World History marries the best practices in pedagogy and educational cognition with lessons learned from years of teaching experience and research expertise in the field of world history
  • Digital modules are delivered to students through an instructor's course-management system
  • Each module is authored by an historian who is both an expert in his/her field and an experienced teacher
  • Embracing an un-coverage model to learning History, and focusing on major transcultural and transnational events and experiences, the modules develop students' historical thinking skills. These skills are aligned with the development of higher order cognitive thinking.
  • In each module, students encounter a historical problem and must obtain evidence to respond to that problem. They acquire or master a methodology to examine the evidence, and they craft a response that they make 'public' by sharing with the instructor and/or other students. Finally, they are given the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned.
  • Each module maintains a clear pathway and is broadly organized in the following way: 1) Problem; 2) Inquiry; 3) Evidence; 4) Putting it All Together
  • Formative Assessments occur throughout each module and ask students to consider and evaluate the material provided to them. Summative Assessments end every module, asking students to connect their learning in terms of the historical and methodological problems. Both the formative and summative assessments feed directly to the instructor's gradebook.
  • A rich array of multimedia increases student engagement with the material and provides multiple entry points into the problem. These resources include graphic flipbooks, videos, whiteboards, animated maps, interactive timelines, images enhanced with zoom-in capability, audio, and primary-source documents.

About the Author(s)

Trevor Getz is Professor of History at San Francisco State University.

Table of Contents

    1) "The Many Faces of Sir Francis Drake: Global Pirate or National Hero?" (Kris Lane, Tulane University)
    The story of Francis Drake in world history begs many questions, but perhaps it is at core a question of who owns history, or who "curates" the legacy of a national hero (or in the case of Spain, a favorite villain)? Drake is a classic 'national hero' vs. 'arch-villain.'

    The principal objective of this module is to examine a wide range of sources relating to Drake's Famous Voyage in order to draw our own conclusions regarding Drake's conduct and the ways in which interpretation of his achievements changed over time. Students who successfully complete this unit will demonstrate the ability to evaluate contradictory evidence and opposing interpretations, producing an original, historical argument that takes into account the shifting politics of legend formation.

    2) "Olaudah Equiano/Gustavas Vassa: African or American?" (Trevor Getz, San Francisco State University)
    There are many ways to read Olaudah Equiano's famous autobiographical narrative, and many ways into the story. One of these is the question of where Equiano was born. This is a question that matters for a variety of reasons. For our purposes, it is a question that allows us to understand him as a human and an author, to comprehend his motives and his actions, and along the way, perhaps to learn something about the lives of enslaved Africans more generally. In this module, students will work with primary sources from Equiano's life and the era in which he lived, evidence from within Equiano's own book, and the work of historians and other scholars studying the past who seek to understand Equiano's motives and writing

    With this evidence before us, the question becomes how to make sense of the seemingly contradictory sources and bits of text. How can we organize our thoughts in such a way as to come to our own conclusions about where Equiano was born? This is the question facing us, and it's the question that scholars have faced in recent years. Students who successfully complete this module will demonstrate the ability to evaluate contradictory evidence in the context of opposing secondary sources, and to produce a convincing original historical argumentative paper assessing this evidence.

    3) "Literature and the Great War: Poetry vs. History?" (Allison Scardino-Belzer, Georgia Southern University)
    The module includes literature (poetry and selected excerpts from fiction) and personal narratives to explore the issue of individual experience in WWI. Selections range from 1914 to 1930 to show change over time. How "true" is literature and how do historians use literary sources? How can historians use individual voices to tell a larger story about an important world event? One focus of this module is to emphasize the thick reading of a single source (Hemingway). Comparing this source with other primary sources strengthens students' analytic skills. Finally, working with multiple poems to identify the different ways the war affected people builds historical empathy.

    4) "Who Decides What Should be Remembered? Historians, Archives, and Evidence (Audra Diptee, Carleton University, Canada)
    Operation Legacy was a British policy of willfully destroying or removing colonial documents that were deemed "incriminating" to the British government. This policy took place over more than two decades (1950s - 1970s) and was imposed just prior to when British colonies were to get their political independence. Its objective was to keep information out of the hands of the incoming governments of soon-to-be politically independent nations throughout the British Empire.

    Students who complete this module will demonstrate a) the ability to critically assess the ways in which evidence is compiled and constructed (including the operation of power within these processes); b) a facility with research techniques; c) An awareness of the importance of chronology and historical context; and d) the ability to recognize when historical assumptions, both implicit and explicitly stated, inform ideas about the present.

    5) "Making History: How Do Historians Turn Evidence into Narratives?" (Felicia Viator and Trevor Getz, San Francisco State University)
    The first central question the module helps students examine is: "How do historians and other scholars create, contest, and modify narratives as a way of interpreting the past?" The second question, a related but much broader one, is: "How do we use stories to understand the past?"

    This module introduce students to the competencies that demonstrate an awareness of the constructed, contested, and contingent nature of historical narratives/interpretations. To that end, students will learn key skills regularly employed by historians, including contexualization, periodization, causality, historical empathy, source analysis, and evaluation of secondary sources. At a more advanced level, students will have the opportunity to practice constructing their own narratives and them subject them to claims testing.

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