The April edition of the American Historical Association's Perspectives on History magazine features an article by U-M History faculty Paulina Alberto and Farina Mir on the development of the department's gateway course, History 101. From the article:
What does such a course even look like? Historians have no established canon. Nor do historians have a canonical method. ... History 101 could hardly represent the discipline’s temporal, geographic, and methodological coverage. We therefore developed the course as a long-form answer to the question “What is history?” But to answer this question—and keep our audience—we learned to address another, more basic one: “Why history?”
The article reports that History 101 is a huge success, attracting 865 students in its six iterations and reaching new audiences and potential majors, with 19% of enrollees from STEM fields. As the article concludes:
There is no one way to teach History 101. But if our version has succeeded in engaging larger numbers of students term after term, perhaps it is because we have resisted the urge to march students through endless events, disembodied concepts, or subspecies of history. The answer to “What is history?” should come in the form of a compelling story that is powerfully illustrated—and students must find themselves in it. The time is right, it seems, for our discipline to embrace a 101, a course that speaks boldly and broadly about our purpose and values as historians.
Alberto and Mir won LSA's Matthews Underclass Teaching Award in 2017 for their work on History 101.
Read the full article, with a link to their History 101 syllabus, at the American Historical Association's website.