This website represents a unique pedagogical vision about how to teach the history of far away regions. The means to implement this vision, which are collected in this website, are the fruits of an on-going collaborative project. Many members of the University of Michigan community have contributed to its development, and multiple university units have provided the necessary funding to carry out this endeavor over the past decade.
Beginnings: Early funding came from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA ITC Faculty Grant, 2003) and the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT Faculty Development Award, 2002) at the University of Michigan. The first version of the website, which ran for ten years and has now been replaced by the current website, was conceived and designed by Yaron Eliav and Jason Tatlock. The video clips were produced and shot in Israel during the summer of 2003 as a collaboration between Yaron Eliav and Rami Kimchi [(c) 2003 Yaron Eliav and Rami Kimchi], and with the help of a small filming team (cf. video credits).
2011-2014: Since 2011, a collaboration between the teacher of the course, Yaron Eliav, Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES), and Julie Evershed, Director of the Language Resource Center (LRC), has resulted in a cluster of grants that allowed the second phase of the project: an LSA IT Faculty Project Grant in 2012; Transforming Learning for Third Century (TLTC) Quick-Wins Grant from the University of Michigan Provost’s Office, and a New Initiative New Infrastructure (NINI) grant, both in 2013; and a Transforming Learning for Third Century (TLTC) Discovery Grant in 2014. Additional funding came from the home units of NES and LRC.
Eliav and Evershed were joined by Justin Winger, an archaeologist and newly minted Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Studies, who became the coordinator of the project; Johnathon Beals, an Instructional Designer from LRC, was in charge of the development of the new website; and Steven Lonn, a research specialist in the USE Lab in the University’s Digital Media Commons, provided the analytical and technical support for a series of student surveys to assess and evaluate the project’s various components.
2015-present: In the Spring of 2015, the efforts and developments put into this course were recognized by the University of Michigan in the form of a large grant – a $750,000 contribution for a five year project called “Changing the Ways We Teach the Ancient World,” part of the Teaching and Learning for the Third Century (TLTC) program that is meant to rethink and eventually change the learning environment of undergraduate students on campus. Various changes occurred on the team leading the project – Eliav and Evershed were joined by Sharon Herbert, a distinguished university professor in Classics. Other new members came aboard and replaced those who continued their careers elsewhere. Read about the new project here and see a list of the multi member project team here.
Future plans: We are currently experimenting with the implementation of a new, global aspect for the course through a partnership with Moscow State University. For this we have been joined by Philomena Meechan of LRC, Todd Austin of LSA IT, and Tom Bray, a Converging Technologies Consultant from the Digital Media Commons. In January 2014, Prof. Arkady Kovelman, Chair of Moscow State’s Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, visited our campus and took part in a series of trials and experiments conducted by LSA IT. In the Fall of 2015, we launched an experimental section of the course in which the course was taught simultaneously in Moscow and Ann Arbor and students participated via video conferencing in weekly discussions and joint projects related to the course. You can read more about this experience in a Michigan Daily piece that was written about it; see it here. Another component that we hope to develop in the coming years is an optional study session in the Middle East.