The past is not simply a list of events. Historical records are the means by which historians develop their interpretations of those events. Because interpretations differ, there is no single historical record, but various narrations of events each told from a different perspective. Therefore the study of history is intimately linked to the study of values, the values of the historical actors, the historians who have written about them, and of the students engaged in learning about them.
The World’s History links chronology, themes, and geography in eight units, or Parts, of study. The Parts move progressively along a time line from the emergence of early humans to the present day. Each Part emphasizes a single theme—for example, urbanization or religion or migration—and students learn to use them all to analyze historical events and to develop a grasp of the chronology of human development. The final chapter employs all the themes developed in the first seven Parts as tools for understanding the history of our own times. Geographically, each Part covers the entire globe, although specific topics place greater emphasis on specific regions.
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Howard Spodek received his B.A. degree from Columbia University (1963), majoring in history and specializing in Columbia’s newly designed program in Asian Studies. He received his M.A. (1966) and Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Chicago, majoring in history and specializing in India. His first trip to India was on a Fulbright Fellowship, 1964–66, and he has spent a total of some seven years studying and teaching in India. He has also traveled widely throughout the United States, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. He has been a faculty member at Temple University since 1972, appointed Full Professor in 1984. He was awarded Temple’s Great
Teacher award in 1993.
Spodek’s work in world history began in 1988 when he became Academic Director of a comprehensive, innovative program working with teachers in the School District of Philadelphia to improve their knowledge base in world history and facilitate a rewriting of the world history program in the schools. Immediately following this program, he became principal investigator of a program that brought college professors and high school teachers together to reconsider, revise, and, in many cases, initiate the teaching of world history in several of the colleges and universities in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Those projects led directly to the writing of the first edition of the current text (1997).
Howard Spodek has published extensively on urbanization in India, including Urban-Rural Integration in Regional Development (1976); Urban Form and Meaning in South-East Asia (editor, with Doris Srinivasan, 1993); and a wide array of articles, including analyses of working women’s organizations. In addition he wrote and produced the documentary film, Ahmedabad (1983). He has written on his experiences with world history faculty at the college and high school levels in articles in The History Teacher (1992, 1995). He has received funding for his research, writing, teaching, and film from Fulbright, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Smithsonian Institution.
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