It is quite gratifying that my musings in the Last Lecture prompted the editors to seek responses from a few of my fellow world history teachers and scholars. I appreciate their mostly generous appraisals of my work and delighted that they found the essay thought-provoking enough to engage with some of the issues raised. Their comments, whether supportive or critical, offer valuable food for thought to all of us interested in promoting the world history project. My essay was necessarily brief and originally intended chiefly for the faculty, student, and community audience at UWGB, where I spent most of my academic career. Hence I was not able to raise all of the points that I would like to have covered, spend very much time on the personal and academic background that helped shape my approaches, or outline my views on the framing, teaching, and writing of world history. On the latter point, I have presented my perspectives on world history in various articles and presentations over the years as well as in my world history textbooks.  I relish waxing nostalgic about the wonderful Comparative World History Program at UW-Madison, where I earned my Ph.D., and the inspiring teachers (including Philip Curtin and John Smail) from whom I learned so much about world (and comparative) history. And I always enjoy discussing some of the world historians who influenced my approach such as William McNeill, Marshall Hodgson, and Leften S. Stavrianos. But this is not the place. Hence I will largely restrict my comments to several of the points raised by the commentators, some of whom, like me, came to world history from a background in Asian history.
Jodi Eastberg, Jeanne Grant, and Paul Richgruber share many of my ideas. Eastberg offers a useful concept of "middle ground" as created and contested space where teachers, scholars, students, and historical actors can engage with each other. Furthermore, she advocates a continuing engagement with colleagues in an interdisciplinary dialogue. She also notes helpfully that as scholars of world or non-U.S. history we cross borders whenever we engage in research and communicate our findings to a wider audience. This is a point that I should have addressed in the essay. Such border-crossing is certainly reflected in my own writing on Asian and world history.
Like me, Tanya Maus is concerned about a growing parochialism in the United States, particularly troubling in a time of global connectedness. Maus has mixed feelings about a field like Area Studies, which can be used as a foundation to further U.S. national security, political, and economic interests rather than, as she hopes, fostering empathy and caring among Americans for other societies and peoples. I contend that the criticism in recent years by various scholars who view Area Studies as a Cold War relic whose time has past is overdone and ultimately counterproductive. We need more, not fewer, specialists on other countries, regions, and languages, certainly in colleges and universities. Most of the women and men I have met over the decades who have devoted their careers to studying and understanding another society, many of them graduates of Area Studies programs, have considerable sympathy for the people of that society. Most of them enjoy visiting or living in these countries and return as often as possible. This does not necessarily mean that the observer is uncritical of political trends, cumbersome bureaucracies, or even of some customs; any group of people (including Americans!) has positive and negative features. I also know that not everyone who studies another country, especially a country seen in national security or foreign policy circles as a threat or a problem, is motivated by empathy; sometimes the rationale is "know thy enemy." Nonetheless, I am a proponent of Area Studies programs that foster a multidimensional approach, promoting knowledge of language, religion, literature, and the arts as well as of economies, social patterns, and political systems. My own academic background involved an emphasis on East and Southeast Asian Studies, including language study (Chinese, Indonesian). The major alternatives to this type of Area Studies are the behavioralist and quantitative approaches, often embracing rational choice theories, in which students master advanced mathematics and game theory rather than language and cultural knowledge. Alas, this approach dominates too much of political science, economics, and sociology today, providing a very different, and in my view misleading, perspective on the world and one much more congenial to a national security emphasis.
Several other respondents addressed interdisciplinarity. Maus sees some value in interdisciplinarity but is correct that interdisciplinary approaches can potentially be just as restrictive and hostile to intellectual inquiry as disciplinary approaches. Intellectual rigidity is always a threat in any field. I want to reassure Louisa Rice that I was not arguing for replacing disciplines but rather for expanding our notions of what knowledge can be relevant to them. History as a discipline, of course, is a bridge between the humanities and the social sciences, but increasingly today also encompasses interests in environmental and climate change, among other non-traditional topics. The practitioners of Big History, who include the evolution of the cosmos and Earth in their framework, have greatly expanded the notion of what history and interdisciplinarity can entail although their approach can be daunting to those of us without a deep knowledge of science. And UWGB is by no means the only model of interdisciplinarity or even a particularly vibrant one. Indeed, one of my purposes in stressing interdisciplinary in my talk was that there has been in recent years a gradual trend at UWGB, supported by many (especially younger) faculty, away from broad interdisciplinary programs and toward narrow disciplinary and professional emphases, which I find troubling.
Susan Smith chides me for apparently having a narrow view of interdisciplinarity chiefly involving the social sciences since that is what I emphasized in the essay. Unlike most Americanists and Europeanists, many of us who did our graduate study on, and field work in, Asia, Africa, or Latin America commonly engaged with anthropologists, political scientists, and geographers, and perhaps economists, ethnomusicologists, and sociologists, since relatively few other historians were working on the same area. Where a rich trove of documentary sources were lacking, we often had to borrow techniques from social science colleagues, especially anthropologists. My department at UWGB mainly involved the social sciences (although we once also had a literature specialist) but in fact many of us have had much broader interests. I was able to develop teaching and research interests well beyond the social sciences.
Eastberg rightly noted my interest in music. In the 1980s I developed a popular sophomore-level general education on folk music (a longtime avocational enthusiasm) and U.S. society, and then expanded it in the 1990s into a course entitled Music, Politics, and Social Change. This course used folk, rock, pop, and world music to look at modern world history through case studies of the U.S., Ireland, Jamaica, Trinidad, Chile, Brazil, Nigeria, and South Africa. The course challenged most student's conceptions of what history is as well as introducing them to often unfamiliar musics and societies.  Alas, in the past few years increasing numbers of students in the class found it harder to relate to foreign language musics, an example of parochialism, not to mention (and this reflects chiefly a generation gap between instructor and students) 1950s rock and acoustic folk music (sayonara Elvis and Pete Seeger; hello Jay-Z and Lady Gaga). I also taught occasional seminars on popular culture and on issues of development and underdevelopment. Nor did my SCD colleagues wince when I developed a scholarly interest in popular and folk musics, leading to several books on Southeast Asian popular musics and politics as well as well as many articles and encyclopedia entries on popular, folk, and world musics.  I also began most of my class sessions on Asian, Africa, and world history as well as a course on the Vietnam War with appropriate music to set the stage for the day's topic and raise questions.
Paul Richgruber praises one of his own mentors, Ed Farmer, a China specialist turned comparative historian who introduced him to a broader view of history.  Richgruber and I share an exasperation with (to critics) often blundering and sometimes imperialistic U.S. foreign policies. He notes the patronizing and paternalistic attitudes that often characterize U.S. relations with other nations and can foster neocolonialism. I discussed in my course on the Vietnam War how General William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam during that war, sometimes referred to the Vietnamese as children needing U.S. guidance, a rhetoric that has been repeated by some American leaders about Afghanistan and Iraq. I also recall how President George W. Bush appointed his close confidant, Karen Hughes, who had absolutely no experience on the Middle East or international affairs, as an envoy to travel around the Islamic world lecturing audiences on the value of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Her journeys were predicated on the assumption that if people in the Middle East could be made to understand how Americans were helping and intending good in Iraq, then anti-Americanism would end. The lectures only helped make Hughes a symbol of American ignorance and of naive Bush administration policies. During the recent heated debates on revising U.S. health care many U.S. politicians loudly rejected any notion that this country could find any good models among economically developed countries with universal health insurance and hence much healthier and longer lived populations. Richgruber also notes how the news media in foreign nations often has much more coverage of world affairs than their American counterparts. Besides presenting a different (albeit controversial) view than most of the U.S. media in its coverage of Middle Eastern issues, the U.S branch of Al Jazeera has often been praised by media specialists for their internationalist approach in world coverage. But the network is carried by few U.S. cable systems.
Richgruber also shares my concern for the decline of geographical knowledge in the U.S., a situation that led me to require map quizzes on most of my classes. On the other hand, Louisa Rice believes that her students are more globally aware than I give them credit for. I have certainly had many such students, some of them well-traveled and even with living experience abroad, but they are a decided minority. Hopefully her experience is more typical than mine. Rice also helpfully argues as an Africanist that the whole concept of borders may be outdated in a world increasingly shaped by networks and connections. For the most part I agree and never intended to suggest that political borders and today's nations are immutable. The modern countries and boundaries of Africa and of Southeast Asia, not to mention Latin America and parts of the Middle East, are a phenomenon of modern history and largely imposed by Western colonial powers. My conception of borders in the essay was more metaphorical and cultural. Smith contends that the study of world history needs to devote more attention to Asian, Islamic, and Latin American history, a view I have argued for over forty years in numerous publications and talks. 
Several commentators, including Maus, faulted me for generalizing about Americans, hence neglecting the millions of immigrants and members of ethnic minorities who also make up the American population. And Grant notes that her students come from many backgrounds. These are fair points and I can only respond that the generalizations result largely from trying to keep my comments brief. My wife is a retired teacher of high school social studies in an ESL/ELL program, most of whose students were drawn from the substantial Southeast Asian (especially Hmong) and far larger Hispanic populations, as well as a small but growing Somali contingent, in Green Bay. Much of my early career was devoted to studying and writing about the Chinese minority in Malaysia and Southeast Asia generally as well as the Asian diasporas around the world, and I still regularly return to these topics in my scholarship.  Hence, I am well aware of the danger of generalizing about, and essentializing, the cultures and peoples of nations. For example, China is far from homogeneous in its ethnically diverse population, several hundred languages and dialects, and strong regional traditions. Furthermore, Carlos Fuentes was probably not painting all Americans with the same broad brush, only noting some general trends reflected ultimately in foreign policies. I would also contend that, in my experience, ethnic minority students, and even some from immigrant families, are not necessarily much better informed about the world or non-U.S. cultures (except perhaps for their own ancestral one) than most white middle class Americans (who have much more influence on politics and hence foreign and military policies). Nor is this inadequate knowledge of the world unique to the U.S.; when I taught in Malaysia many of my university students did not know much about nearby countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, or the Philippines. As teachers we still need to dedicate ourselves to expanding the knowledge of students, and perhaps the larger community, about the wider world and the U.S. role in that world.
1. For my perspectives on world history see Societies, Networks, and Transitions: A Global History, 2nd ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010); "World History," in Kelly Boyd, ed., Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999), 1330-1335; "World History and the Public: The National Standards Debate," AHA Perspectives, 38/5 (May, 2000), 32-35; "National Standards and the 'Ownership' of World History," The Review of Education/ Pedagogy/ Cultural Studies, 17/3 (August, 1995), 265-277; "The Contributions of Philip Curtin and the 'Wisconsin School' to the Study and Promotion of Comparative World History," Journal of Third World Studies, 11/2 (Spring, 1994), 180-223; and "Global History, Modernization, and the World System Approach: A Critique," The History Teacher, 14/4 (August, 1981), 489-515. The latter two essays are also reprinted in abridged form in Ross E. Dunn, ed., The New World History: A Teacher's Companion (Boston: Bedford, 1999).
2. Some sense of this course, and how I use music in my teaching, can be found in my article: "'Get Up, Stand Up': Bob Marley, Victor Jara, Fela Kuti and Political Popular Music," World History Connected, 7/2 (June, 2010).
3. For some of my writing on popular music and culture see, eg., 'Dance of Life': Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998); Reflections of Change: Sociopolitical Commentary and Criticism in Malaysian Popular Music Since 1950 (special monographic issue of Crossroads, 6/1, 1991); "Popular Music and Politics in Modern Southeast Asia," Asian Music, 27/2 (Spring/Summer, 1996), 149-199; "'Hey We Equatorial People': Popular Music and Contemporary Society in Malaysia," in John Lent, ed., Asian Popular Culture (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995), 11-28; "From Folk to Computer Songs: The Evolution of Malaysian Popular Music , 1930-1990." Journal of Popular Culture, 30/3 (Winter, 1996), 1-26; "Fusion Folk: Indonesian Kroncong," in Fred Nardis, ed., World History Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2010); "Woody Guthrie," in Paul Buhle, et al., eds., The American Radical (New York: Routledge, 1994), 237-243; "Calypso," "Pete Seeger," "Harry Belafonte," "Bill Haley," and "Buddy Holly," in Ray Browne, ed., The Guide to U.S. Popular Culture (Bowling Green: Popular Press, 2001); "Miriam Makeba," "Theodore Bikel," and "Ramblin' Jack Elliott," New Grove Encyclopedia of Music in the United States (New York: Grove, 1987); "Rock'n'Roll", International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 2007); "Rock and Pop Music," "Country and Western," and "Globalization," in Sam G. Riley, ed., Star Struck: Celebrity in Contemporary America (Boston: Greenwood Press, 2010).
4. Farmer's comments on my essay, and my response to him, will appear in the next issue of The Middle Ground.
5. See, eg., the comprehensive global perspective in Societies, Networks, and Transitions, and in my other text, World (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010). To me world history is about both the larger picture (connections, networks, encounters, trans-regional forces) and the many diverse societies and traditions.
6. See, eg., From Kampong to City: A Social History of Kuching, Malaysia, 1820-1970 (Athens: Southeast Asian Monographs, Ohio University, 1987); Chinese Society ad Politics in Sarawak: Historical Essays (Sibu: Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association, 2009); Chinese Immigration and Society in Sarawak, 1870-1917 (Sibu: Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association, 2003); "Asian Migrations," in William McNeill, ed., Encyclopedia of World History (Boston: Berkshire, 2005), 191-197; "The Sea Common to All: Maritime Frontiers, Port Cities, and Chinese Traders in the Southeast Asian Age of Commerce, ca. 1400-1750," Journal of World History (forthcoming, 2010); "Chinese and Malay Ethnicity in Southeast Asian Cities," in Muhammed Abu Bakar and Amarjit Kaur, eds., Historia: Essays in Commemoration of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the History Department, University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Historical Society, 1984), 403-419; "Repatriation Movements Among the Javanese in Surinam: A Comparative Analysis," Caribbean Studies,18/1-2 (April, 1978), 85-113; "The Javanese as Emigrant: Observations on the Development of Javanese Settlements Overseas," Indonesia, 11 (April, 1971), 41-62; "Some Recent Writings on the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and Beyond," Jernal Sejarah, 14 (1978), 154-162.