Letter from the President of the World History Association.
It is with a great sense of pride and honor that I take up the position of President of the World History Association for 2014 and 2015. I am conscious of the great world historians who have preceded me in this office and will endeavor to live up to the high standards they have set in advancing the mission of the WHA. I want to begin this welcome message by thanking our dedicated and hard working Secretariat, Winston Welch and Jackie Wah, and also the members the Executive Council, for their tireless work on behalf of the WHA over the past several years. In particular I offer my heartfelt thanks to those EC members whose terms have just ended--former Secretary Kerry Ward, and EC members Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Alan Karras, and Paul Jentz. At the same time I would like to welcome new VP Rick Warner, new Secretary Maryanne Rhett, and new EC members Grace Chee, Bram Hubble, Michele Louro, and Denis Gainty. These new members contribute to a formidable team with the drive and energy to carry the WHA forward to continuing success in the years ahead. On behalf of all WHA members, I also offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to immediate past president Marc Jason Gilbert for doing such a sterling job under often challenging circumstances.
The WHA is the only professional association dedicated to advancing the cause of world history globally. It is made up of committed members just like you--professional historians, community college professors, K-12 world history teachers, policy makers, and interested members of the public. In short, it is made up of people from all walks of life who believe absolutely in the value of world history, and the critical role it can play in shaping a more positive future. The WHA has been carrying out its mission splendidly over recent months, hosting successful 2013 symposia in Western Australia and Vietnam. As I write, another symposium is about to begin in Barcelona, Spain, which I am certain will be another tremendous success for our Association. One example of just how deeply international academics, teachers and administrators appreciate the outreach efforts of the WHA is that the Vietnamese Minister of Education personally made time to officially open our conference in Hanoi.
In July this year we will be holding our 23rd Annual Conference at the Marriot Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica-an extra ordinary country with a profound commitment to its environment. We already have a rich program of panels and roundtables organized, including a keynote address that will be delivered by leading environmental world historian and WHA member Professor John R. McNeill of Georgetown University. I very much look forward to personally welcoming you all to Costa Rica where, as well as enjoying the rich intellectual and pedagogical fare on offer, perhaps you might also join my wife Pamela and me on the pre-conference day tours, and particularly on one of the superb post-conference tours that Winston Welch has organized, exploring the rich biodiversity of the country.
On other matters, negotiations have just been concluded with the University of Hawai'i Press regarding the future of the Journal of World History. With unanimous EC approval I recently signed a three-year agreement with the Publisher of UH Press on terms that are reasonably agreeable to both parties. Certainly the Press has agreed to make regular substantial "donations" to the WHA, and the WHA will have some input into editor selection and the effective management of the Journal. Thanks to Marc Gilbert and Winston Welch is certainly in order for facilitating the completion of these negotiations. The Executive and EC are also keeping a close eye on WHA finances at the moment, and are committed to ensuring the long-term financial viability of the Association. Other matters we have or are attending to as I write include having the WHA become a signatory to the "1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure," revising the structure of several WHA Committees, and investigating potential future headquarters for the WHA now that our period of residency at the University of Hawai'i is coming to an end. I also recently received a letter from Auditi Chakravarty, a senior Vice President at the College Board, who wanted me to pass on to our members the following message concerning the WHA's contribution to recent changes made to the SAT World History exam: "David Coleman and I just wanted to make sure you knew about the impact the historians and educators who comprise the World History Association have had on today's announcement of the new SAT ... We hope that you and your members feel honored and recognized by the impact you had."
Along with the financial contributions that will be forthcoming from UH Press, and of course profits from our conferences and symposia, an equally critical pillar of our financial stability is your membership dues, and we count on your continuing support in the years a head. The WHA plays an important role as a voice for reason in pedagogical debates around the country and the world, debates about the nature of education and the critical importance of a world historical perspective. At a time when, despite the advances of globalization, we see increasing division both within the USA and around the world over issues of religion, politics, science, the environment, and whether schools and colleges should focus on "practical" skills or a genuine liberal education, we need more than ever a strong WHA as an advocate for rigorous academic research and innovative pedagogy in the service of reason, inter-cultural competence, and genuine global citizenship.
None of this is possible without your support. I understand as well as anyone the many demands being made on our personal finances, but may I suggest the WHA is one place where your dollars really do make a difference. It would be a sad situation indeed if the WHA were to see its strength decline through shrinking membership, a situation that could threaten the enormous strides world history has made at all levels of education and public policy over the almost three decades that the WHA has been in existence. I hope we can count on you to continue your membership of the WHA, to encourage your colleagues and students to also join, and to remain committed to this great community of world historians who are dedicated to improving the present and future of the planet through research, education and advocacy.
My aim as President of the WHA for the next two years is to continue the excellent work of my predecessors to help ensure that the Association thrives and evolves by building on existing strengths, and by exploring bold new initiatives. I hope to see you at one of our exciting future gatherings, particularly our annual conference in July in beautiful Costa Rica. Thank you for your trust in me, and for your continuing membership and support of the World History Association.
Craig Benjamin, PhD.
President, the World History Association
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|Publication:||World History Bulletin|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2014|
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