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World History & Literature Initiative (WHaLI)

World history is the story of changes within the human community, and in particular, the connections across time and space of humans and the various systems and patterns they construct. The World History & Literature Initiative (WHaLI) is a unique collaboration between the University of Michigan International Institute’s Title VI National Resource Centers and School of Education designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of world history, literature, and the ways in which their students learn new historical ideas.

Two-Day Workshop for History, Social Studies & E.L.A. Teachers

June 17-18, 2024

1010 Weiser Hall, 500 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109


$20 Registration Fee 

Register here.

Registration Deadline: 
June 1, 2024


For questions:


This event is funded in part by Title VI NRC grants from the U.S. Department of Education.



International Institute

Center for Education Development, Evaluation, and Research

Marsal Family School of Education.

All societies have contested histories—most often pertaining to violent conflict, oppression and occupation, intolerance, and rights abuses, including colonialism, imperialism, and militarism. They may also center on the accomplishments and contributions of individuals, communities, and systems. Historically, policies and laws have aimed to protect against distortion and denial of past violence and injustice, upholding the rights of victims and their descendants. However, the rise of nationalism globally has been linked to new political tools for suppressing historical debate, encompassing “memory laws” and policy efforts to control, repress, and censor what and how we teach and learn about the past. In some contexts, critical approaches to difficult pasts are criminalized, and punitive action or threats of such consequences limit open inquiry and dialogue. 

The World History and Literature Initiative (WHaLI) 2024 will explore the contested nature of histories worldwide, across case studies set in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. Discussions will include the politicization of educational spaces, multiple intentions underlying efforts to prescribe curricula, and ways that identity, power, and emotions map onto different interpretations. Participants and speakers will reflect on how to teach contested pasts with accuracy, complexity, and multi-perspectivity, how contested histories are featured in both historical and literary accounts of important events, and consider how to support and develop the critical literacies students need to make sense of conflicting ideas. Inviting students to opportunities to analyze contested histories around the world critically can create spaces for democratic dialogue, empathy, reconciliation, and critical understanding. 

The two-day workshop for secondary teachers focuses on these issues, using examples drawn from different historical times and areas of the world. The workshop will also illuminate challenges students face in learning such content, explore ways teachers might meet those challenges, and provide participants with relevant resources that can be used in the classroom.

This workshop is open to any educator. MDE SCECH will be available.

Images are from the Contested Histories case studies and blogs resources, and Wikimedia Commons.