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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
9 AM-3 PM

Prechter Lab, Rm 2202
Marsal Family School of Education
610 East University Ave

Why attend? Participants get:

  • Standards-aligned content about important global case studies
  • Sample resources and activities
  • Free books
  • Practical pedagogical framing and support
  • Conversations, collaboration, and networking with colleagues
  • 9.5 SCECHs

$20 Registration Fee 
(Registration has ended)

Registration Deadline: 
June 1, 2024

For questions, contact:
Jennifer Lund
Outreach Coordinator
International Institute

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.

Sponsors: International Institute, Center for Education Development, Evaluation, and Research, Marsal Family School of Education, Detroit River Story Lab. This event is funded in part by Title VI NRC grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

Moderators and developing team:

Michelle Bellino, Associate Professor, U-M Marsal Family School of Education (co-designer)

Darin Stockdill, Design Coordinator, U-M Marsal Family School of Education Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (co-designer)

Area Studies Speakers:

“Early West African Vernacular Histories and Higher Education”
Adrian Deese, Assistant Professor, U-M

“Poetics of Return: Types of Return as Contested Immigration Narratives of Identity in Arabic Literature”
Wessam Elmeligi, Associate Professor, U-M Dearborn

“Sandinismo 45 Years After Revolution: The Presence of the Past in Nicaragua”
Luciana Chamorro, Visiting Assistant Professor, U-M

“Korea and a Japan Divided” 
Alexis Dudden, Professor, University of Connecticut

“Unsettled Histories of the Vietnamese Diaspora”
Ann Ngoc Tran, PhD Student, University of Southern California

“Erasure of India’s Muslim past” 
Mohammad Khan, MIRS graduate student, U-M Center for South Asian Studies


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