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Editor's Message

Marc Jason Gilbert


     This issue of World History Connected is "big" in many respects. Its Forum is the largest yet in both size and scope: eight articles tackle the issue of 'Big History" itself. Guest editor Craig Benjamin has gathered a stellar group of scholar-practitioners who define, explore and illuminate the value of Big History for world historians at all levels of interest and levels of instruction.

     This issue also offers its first "Featured Review," usually a review of the literature on a specific world history topic, which, given the Forum focus, is a very appropriate essay by William Everdell entitled, "A Short History of Big History." Several other articles and reviews address Big History in its many forms, including an interview with John McNeill in which he addresses environmental history. Other related articles include a discussion of a new directory of courses in Big History prepared by Barry Rodrigue and Daniel Stasko and a report on Big History classroom resources and a continuing survey of teacher experiences with Big History developed by John Maunu with an assist from Alex Moddejonge. Helen Grady's review of the interdisciplinary work, The Evolutionary Epic: Sciences Story and the Humanities Response (which includes chapters written by some of the Forum authors as well by this writer) ties the review section to the "Big History" approach.

     However, this issue is just as large in its treatment of non-Big History issues. Anthony Pattiz asks us to consider bringing the Japanese War Crimes trials into the classroom, while new assistant Book Review Editor Alan Rosenfeld offers a review of the newly republished Yasutaro Soga's Life Behind Barbed Wire, which had originally been released in Japanese in 1948. Both essays remind us that the Second World War began 70 years ago last month. John Maunu offers the first installment of new content for the "Links" tab on the Web Page whose focus is "Migration in World History," a topic which is a likely subject of next year's Advanced Placement Course in World History examination. James Diskant moves beyond his essay in the previous number of this journal to offer additional techniques for encouraging students to "become engaged learners who are willing to move beyond their comfort zones of learning." Sharon Cohen addresses the question as to why students often fail to derive value from reading textbooks and primary sources and offers not only answers, but the means to surmount this difficulty. Stuart Goldberg ties all these topics, from the cosmic (in terms of religious outlooks) to the most intimate of human scales (what we choose to learn from history) through his review of Salonica, a book which brilliantly demonstrates the truism that micro-studies can be as revealing of world historical processes as macro-historical approaches.

     All the editors at World History Connected are now gearing up for the challenge of going where no journal has gone before in terms of assessing student learning about world history. It will feature a Forum devoted to examining the gestating revision of the College Board's Advanced Placement Course in World History and that revision's implications for the field. As always, they look forward to your thoughts on the subjects treated in this issue, on those subjects planned for future issues and on the future direction of the journal. They also rely upon your feedback to validate and critique their efforts. All editors (in the "Editors" file on the bottom left hand of this page) and authors (at the conclusion of their articles) have provided their email addresses. Contact them, let them know if they are serving your needs, and consider making your own contributions to World History Connected through the submission of an idea, article or other material that may can advance the field in terms of both scholarship and teaching.

Marc Jason Gilbert can be contacted at



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