Closer Readings Commentary

Gilder Lehrman’s Online Courses Ask: How Has the American South Evolved and the Cold War Shaped the World?

Since 2012, Gilder Lehrman’s Online Courses have offered educators far and wide the chance to pursue on their own schedules graduate study with distinguished scholars, enrolling 1,068 participants in 46 states and four continents to date. We are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for two new online courses, The South in American History and The Global Cold War. Both can be taken from home and offer enrollees the opportunity to earn three graduate credits in each course.

Here’s some information about each course:

The Global Cold War

Professor Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin will examine the origins, strategy, and consequences of the Cold War from a global perspective.

Says Professor Suri:

The events of the Cold War were complex, contradictory, and deeply uncertain for those living through them. This course will examine how leaders and citizens in multiple societies experienced the Cold War, and how they interacted with a wider, often threatening, world. We will read primary documents, examine crises, and assess the connections between events in different parts of the globe.

We will do this, in part, so that we may consider our present predicament. What can we learn from the choices our predecessors have made? What are the routes that were not taken? What really matters is imagination—can we imagine a new future for our society? Inspiration comes from historical study: we have a useful history. We look back to the history of the Cold War, to think forward about a better, post-Cold War world. That is the way our society can progress.

  • Classes will consist of two types of sessions:
    • Six seminar sessions featuring lectures and discussions with Professor Suri.
    • Four pedagogy sessions with a Gilder Lehrman Master Teacher demonstrating how to integrate the content discussed in the seminars into middle and high school classrooms, particularly AP US History and AP World History courses.
  • All sessions will be recorded and available to watch on-demand.
  • All graduate participants will receive free copies of the course texts, Liberty's Surest Guardian: Rebuilding Nations After War from the Founders to Obama, by Jeremi Suri and America in the World: A History in Documents from the War with Spain to the War on Terror, edited by Jeffrey A. Engel, Mark Atwood Lawrence & Andrew Preston.

Registration closes: January 9, 2015
Course begins: January 14, 2015
Learn more:

The South in American History

University of Richmond President and Professor of History Edward L. Ayers will explore the creation of the largest and most powerful slave society of the modern world, the attempt to create a new independent nation to sustain that society, and the upheaval that resulted when slavery ended for four million people at the end of the Civil War. In the words of Professor Ayers:

Everyone who teaches American history must teach about the South—about the uncertain origins and virus-like growth of slavery, about the ways the Civil War engulfed the entire nation, about the ways that segregation endured until it was destroyed by the brave acts of black Southerners. This course tackles those hard issues head-on, helping teachers understand the complexities that underlay the apparent simplicities of poverty and injustice.

Continuing into the twentieth century, the class will document the world of segregation, the overthrow of that system, and the emergence of the complicated and sometimes conflicted South we know today.

  • Classes will consist of two types of sessions:
    • Six seminar sessions featuring lectures and discussion with Professor Ayers.
    • Four digital history lab sessions during which Professor Ayers, a pioneer in the field of digital history, will introduce innovative digital tools and guide participants in mining it for documents and questions that could be shared with students. To view an example of the digital archive work created by Professor Ayers, visit Visualizing Emancipation.
  • All sessions will be recorded and available to watch on-demand.
  • All graduate participants will receive a free copy of the course text, The Oxford Book of Southern History, edited by Edward L. Ayers and Bradley C. Mittendorf.

Registration closes: January 9, 2015
Course begins: January 13, 2015
Learn more:

To ensure anyone can take advantage of our online courses, auditors may watch session recordings and pursue a Continuing Education Certificate of Completion for $25. Teachers from the Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School program—made possible in part through the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities—may audit upcoming courses for just $15.

In addition, through the recently announced Gilder Lehrman M.A. in American History from Adams State University, participants can pursue an accredited master’s degree by completing nine Gilder Lehrman online courses or eight online courses plus one Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar. We will also offer five scholarships each year to Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School teachers, which will cover the full cost of registration for one course. 

Questions? Please visit our FAQ page or write us directly at

We hope you can join us this spring!