HAMMOND and WESTVILLE – Purdue University Northwest (PNW) hosted the first Indiana gathering of teachers and scholars launching the Big History Project in the state.
Nearly 30 PNW faculty members and several educators from Northwest Indiana K-12 schools gathered recently at PNW’s Hammond Campus to kick off the Big History Project in Indiana. The session was led by Bob Regan, education director of bgc3, and Bob Bain of the University of Michigan, lead faculty member of Big History.
What is Big History?
Dubbed “a social studies course that runs on jet fuel,” the Big History Project is inspired by the work of notable historian David Christian and supported by Bill Gates. The Big History Project is a joint effort between teachers, scholars, scientists and their supporters to bring a multi-disciplinary approach to knowledge to students around the world. Participants co-create curricula to provide a world-class, ready-for the classroom resource available online to everyone – for free.
Elaine Carey, dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences and professor of history at Purdue Northwest, invited Regan and Bain to bring Big History to Indiana. Carey, who joined PNW in July 2017, had worked with the initiative in other areas of the country and knew it could benefit Indiana students, faculty and K-12 educators.
“This initiative is highly valuable to teachers as well as students because it marries the humanities and the sciences, bringing together the complexity and interrelationship of disciplines,” Carey said. “Through these projects students begin to understand contemporary issues such as the universe, the solar system, the environment, agriculture, trade, industry, and globalization, which are particularly relevant in an area such as Northwest Indiana.”
The idea for Big History arose from a desire to go beyond specialized and self-contained fields of study to grasp history as a whole. The growing, multi-disciplinary approach challenges middle and high school students to look at the world from many different perspectives, aiming to inspire a greater love of learning and to help them better understand how we got here, where we’re going, and how they fit in.
Carey noted that the project creates a community of teachers, who drive the development of the educational materials. The entire program was started by a teacher who was trying to connect with students.
In addition to the kick-off meeting with PNW faculty and local educators, The Big History Project experts met with educational leaders from across the region at a meeting of Ready NWI, a non-profit regional partnership aiming to increase college and career readiness.
Any Northwest Indiana school or school district interested in joining a Professional Learning Community to pilot Big History in middle and high schools is asked to contact the PNW College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences at (219) 989-2401.
More information about the Big History Project is available at https://school.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive.