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Mason team receives grant to expand the World History Commons project

June 17, 2020   /   by John Hollis

World History Commons is a free, digital resource with high-quality, peer-reviewed content in world history. Photo provided

A George Mason University team is leading an effort to make a more inclusive view of world history permanently available to students, teachers and scholars around the world at no charge. 

Kelly Schrum, an associate professor in the Higher Education Program within Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, heads a team that recently received a $150,000 Digital Extension Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies to expand World History Commons, a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

“The ACLS digital extension grant will fund doctoral students and early-career researchers working on cutting-edge world history scholarship to write scholarly essays, contribute to a world history Open Educational Resource (OER), learn about digital humanities and develop new professional skills,” Schrum said. 

Schrum will be working with Mason colleagues Jessica Otis and Nate Sleeter to help make the information readily available to community colleges and make sure that younger scholars with new perspectives on world history are included. 

World History Commons is a free, digital resource with high-quality, peer-reviewed content in world history. It includes open access scholarly essays, teaching materials, historical thinking strategies and curated primary sources. 

“We don’t want to create something that will be locked away,” said Schrum, the project’s principal investigator. “We are creating a resource that will be widely available to anyone interested in world history.” 

Partnering with experienced community college faculty and producing teaching guides that connect World History Commons content with community college world history courses will promote further visibility and access to the World History Commons project, Schrum said.  

A number of Mason undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in World History Commons and its success. Six undergraduates and three doctoral students have worked on World History Commons since fall 2018, including website development, cataloging and migrating resources, and updating content. 

A scholarly poster on World History Commons, submitted by Mason doctoral student Daniel Howlett in collaboration with faculty, has been accepted for presentation at the American Historical Association annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, in January 2021. 

“Our goal is to create a sustainable, digital resource for teaching and learning world history today and in the future,” Schrum said. “This is especially important as learning moves online in response to the global pandemic.”