Nick Guyatt’s and Luke Clossey’s recent piece, ‘It’s a Small World After All? Geographical diversity and history teaching in the UK’, in the American Historical Association’s Perpectives on History (May 2013) has started a lively debate about the breadth and quality of teaching and research in our universities. Have universities got the right balance between European/North American history, and wider world history? If not, why not? How can we account for disparities in the way this balance seems to operate in US/Canadian universities versus British ones? Is the UK falling behind? Does that matter?
Is the challenge simply to persuade departments to hire more wider-world historians or do we need to tweak the culture of university research and teaching to ensure that early career historians in wider world topics realise their potential? What are the connections between this debate in the university setting and the arguments about ‘the history of us’, the National Curriculum and school teaching. And in any case, why should students/pupils be interested in wider world history in the first place? Should we emphasise the value of wider world curiosity by embracing instrumental arguments about the (international) career opportunities and the global economy that await school-leavers and university graduates?
Panellists on this Question Time-style event includes Machel Bogues, Professor Sir Richard Evans, Nick Guyatt, Su Lin Lewis, Nicola Sheldon, Jason Todd and Peter D’Sena (chair).