Module 1: Narratives & Sources

Overview: This Modern World History course is a platform where digital learning and historical content meet. To this end, Module 1 introduces you to the basic digital and critical thinking skills needed to navigate this course, focusing on the concepts of narrative and sources.

Objectives: After completing Module 1, you will be able to:

  • Identify and apply the key steps of historical thinking
  • Create and participate in online discussions and assignments using Tackk.
  • Analyze the conceptual framework of our textbook, Worlds Together, Worlds Apart.
  • Identify and analyze primary and secondary sources


Section 1: Narratives

Narratives are the stories that make up world history. These stories can be personal or general, but they are always the author’s interpretation of past events. Scholars create narratives by interpreting groups of sources (primary and secondary), which they use as evidence to support their arguments. Think about your textbook- the team of authors for Worlds Together,  Worlds Apart (WTWA) use primary and secondary sources to create a broad narrative of world history for use in introductory history courses. In other words they have interpreted the past for us using a specific framework and set of evidence. Also consider that WTWA presents just ONE interpretation of world history from 1500-present. In order to get a clear picture of various interpretations of world history, we must compare and contrast these narratives against on another (known as corroboration in the steps of historical thinking in section 2).

  1. Go to and sign up for free account (you may use your existing CSU Office 365 credentials). Tutorials such as this one are available on YouTube.
  2. Create a Tackk to introduce yourself to the class-essentially a personal narrative. Be sure to use the tags #csuhis104 #104narratives (see my Tackk narrative for an example). If you decide to make your Tackk private, please share the link to the course discussion board for your classmates. You will also need to print the Tackk to pdf and submit the pdf to Blackboard.
  3. Read Worlds Together, Worlds Apart Preface, especially the sections “Our Guiding Principles” and “Our Major Themes”
  4. Think about the organizing framework of the textbook: “interconnection and divergence” (WTWA, xxxiv). Post your answers to the following questions to the HIS 104 Tackk discussion.
    1. What does the title Worlds Together, Worlds Apart mean? What are the primary goals of the authors?
    2. Think about the narrative you created. Why did you choose certain moments to highlight and exclude others? How is your narrative connected to national or global events?
    3. Read through your classmates’ narratives on the #csuhis104 #104narratives Tackkboard. What are the similarities between narratives? What are some differences? How can we apply this exercise to understanding the relationship between narratives in the study of world history?

Section 2: Sources

Evaluating sources is a key skill for historical research. Historians typically use two types of sources: primary and secondary (note: encyclopedias and other reference works are generally considered tertiary sources by historians). Check out the excellent research guide created by CSU Arts and Humanities Librarian Mandi Goodsett outlining the differences between types of sources. Your ability to identify primary versus secondary sources is a critical information literacy skill for this course.

1. Watch the “What is Historical Thinking?” Video and review the Stanford History Education Group Chart. We will concentrate on the four steps of historical thinking outlined in the chart as we move through the course materials.

2.  Identify and choose a primary source from Worlds Together, Worlds Apart Chapter 10 or Study Space (study space access codes are located on the inside cover of WTWA). Complete the historical thinking worksheet on Blackboard using this primary source.

3. Search the internet or library catalog with an historical term from your primary source. Choose one secondary source to analyze. Complete the second historical thinking worksheet on Blackboard using your secondary source.

Congratulations! You have completed Module 1.

Go to Module 2