Description (syllabus) for 2009
“Critical Connections” is a professional development curriculum for elementary, middle and high school teachers designed to improve their knowledge and appreciation of traditional American history by focusing on critical connections in America’s past. The curriculum emphasizes the comparative nature of American history by examining twelve intersections in which universal influences combined to help define the development of the United States as a nation and change the course of world history. These twelve intersections illustrate the relevance and global importance of American history while providing teachers with an organizational structure to help students understand—and get excited about—the universal ideas and issues running through America’s past. In short, “Critical Connections” provides teachers with a thematic construct around which to frame questions and organize their thinking and teaching about American history in a global context.
Unit/day 1: Native America and the Columbian exchange
Unit/day 2: The Atlantic system and the American colonies
Unit/day 3: “First New Nation”: the American Revolution in global perspective
Unit/day 4: The American republic: A nation of ideas
Unit/day 5: Documents and artifacts session
Joel Hodson, Ph.D., the program director, is overseeing the course, leading discussions, and grading assignments. Summer lectures were provided by distinguished scholars James L. Axtell, Kenan Professor of the Humanities at the College of William and Mary, and Peter Onuf, Professor of History at the University of Virginia.