Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


College-Level World History and the Coverage Model: A Half-Hearted Defense


History Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


During the Fall 2013 semester I led a teaching circle at GVSU aimed at improving the quality of our world history survey courses. This teaching circle used Zevin and Gerwins Teaching World History as Mystery as a way to generate new approaches GVSUs HST 101 Introduction to World Civilizations classes. They argue that we should stop worrying about coverage and go for depth, and I hoped to use this to encourage faculty teaching HST 101 to be more experimental in the classroom. However, the response was not very positive. Many participants opted for a coverage model not only because textbooks make this approach easiest to prepare but also in order to gain a better understanding of world history themselves. Very few world history professors have specific training in the field, and for first-time instructors the vast majority of the class extends far beyond their area of expertise. The coverage model is thus a way for the instructor to learn the basics of world history while teaching the course, and enables more sophisticated approaches later once the key debates and events are more familiar. Bain and Harris argue that college level world history lags far behind world history at the high school level, and this teaching circle seemed to reinforce that. While not ideal for students, the coverage model seems to be part of the initial learning process for untrained world history instructors, a role for which it should be appreciated.

Conference Name

World History Association Annual Meeting

Conference Location

San Jose, Costa Rica

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