Welcome to the heart of the Center for Global Awareness:
Our Approach

The increasing complexity and interdependence of the world today calls for different approaches to teaching and learning. In response to this need, Denise Ames and Nancy Harmon, founders of the Center for Global Awareness, have researched, experimented with, and discussed at length what they think is the most insightful approach to take in creating their educational resources. Drawing upon their more than six decades in the education field, their wealth of cross-cultural travel experiences, and their concern for the education of our young people, they are aware that most traditional curricula and educational resources lack a holistic approach and global perspective. Thus, they feel passionate about filling in this gap in the traditional curricula with thoughtfully designed books and resources infused with a holistic approach and global perspective. In keeping with the "gaps" theme, they call their educational resources the Global Awareness Program series or GAPs.

What is a holistic approach?

Denise & students in Bursa, Turkey

There are many different interpretations of what holistic means. It will be beneficial to explain our interpretation of the term and how we use it in our writing and teaching. This will also help to explain how this approach is unique and inspiring to students and educators today.

We define holistic in the context of history and social studies as the process in which all the cultural traits of a society interact, reinforce, and support each other. These cultural traits include politics, economy, technology, culture, religion, social relations, art, and military, and also include values, attitudes, and the environment. Changes in a cultural trait create a ripple effect that changes the others. For example, a society's economy reflects its political polices, its treatment of the environment reflects the values of its citizens, its technology reflects its economic characteristics and values, and so forth. "Holistic" emphasizes the full range of relations among the cultural traits of a system and the ways the operation of those parts helps to perpetuate the whole system.

The field of systems thinking informs our holistic approach by giving the system attention and studying the parts within the context of the system. Instead of looking at each isolated part, our books, resources, and services examine the whole system. In systems thinking, we look beyond what appear to be isolated and independent events to identify deeper structures within the system. The whole system and the relationship of the parts to the whole are the focus, not just the isolated basic building blocks.

What is a global perspective?

To put it simply, a global perspective broadens and expands educators' and students' viewpoints beyond their own interests, location and culture to encompass the world. We look at the world more expansively than the conventional viewpoint, which sees the world as made up of separate, individual parts, unconnected to each other. Instead of seeing one's own culture and way of life as the universal standard, a global perspective challenges conventional thinking and sees the world from a broader and more integrated outlook. It looks at and understands the world from multiple perspectives. For example, an individual from the U.S. recognizes that individualism is a key value in her country but understands that it may not be of central importance in other countries.

Why is a global perspective important?

The world is more complex and interdependent than at any time in the past. You hear this so much it is almost a cliché, but it is true and it leads us to more profound observations. We are expanding our citizenship responsibilities beyond the local, state and national level to include global citizenship. We need to know about the world if we expect everyone to responsibly participate as global citizens. We are training young people for a world that we can only try to predict. The conventional approach of acquiring disconnected information and then having it evaluated on standardized tests is an educational approach not suited to an uncertain future. We need a flexible approach that trains students in skills that enable them to creatively and ably solve complex problems in a timely and collaborative way. Having a global perspective is imperative for students to navigate an uncertain future.

Advantages of using a holistic approach and global perspective:

1. Promotes the Big Picture. A holistic approach and global perspective place information into a "big picture" in which the breadth of a subject is considered instead of just a narrow examination. For example, our holistic world history book includes hunting and gathering people and those living in small, agricultural villages who continue to practice their way of life today, as well as contemporary people manipulating information with sophisticated technology.

2. Is Interdisciplinary. Our holistic approach is interdisciplinary, which means we integrate the disciplines of history, economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, humanities, literature, psychology, religion, ecology, the sciences, philosophy, and others into the narrative. This lifts the topic of study from the narrow confines of an academic discipline into a study of the relationship of all the facets of a topic. For example, in our book on the global economy, the economy is studied in relation to society, the environment, and human well-being.

3. Provides a Framework for Understanding. Malcolm Gladwell, a noted author and thinker, has stated that we in modern society are "information rich but theory poor." I agree. We have found that students and educators today have available a treasure trove of information that they are able to easily access with modern technology. Yet, as educators have told us, this plethora of information often overwhelms students, who are left adrift without a framework for understanding it. Educators and students are drawn to our holistic approach and global perspective since it provides a framework for organizing and understanding the vast amount of information available to them. Students have a context which helps them to retain, critically analyze, and apply the information to other situations.

4. Anticipates the Long Term. When using a holistic approach and global perspective, we can better consider and anticipate the long-term impacts of actions, events, and information. For example, the Gross Domestic Product growth rates evaluate the world economy, which are often not a true indication of the actual economic performance, while the number of people starving or the effects on the environment are ignored.

5. Engages Students in the Learning Process. Our purpose in applying this holistic approach and global perspective to the subjects that we write and teach about is to more deeply engage students in the learning process. We need to use strategies to draw students into a learning process that more fully reflects the 21st century world in which they live. This means more than using the latest technology or educational tool to gather and manipulate more information; it means providing a comprehensive framework for understanding and simplifying complexity and emphasizing the urgency of the topics found in our books.

6. Inspires a Paradigm Shift. Our holistic approach and global perspective is a deliberate and thoughtful way to study different subjects. In fact, some people have remarked that they see this approach as a paradigm shift in the way we write, study, and teach different subjects. There is not necessarily new information in our books, but we place existing information into a comprehensible, systematic, and thought-provoking framework. Our approach reframes existing information to encourage multiple perspectives and explore unfamiliar points of view. It lifts topics beyond the narrow confines of rigid disciplines to study the relationships found within a system. As one thoughtful student exclaimed about our world history book, "This world history is different, it is a process."

Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Global Awareness is to bring a unique holistic approach and global perspective to its books, resources, and professional services about history, cross-cultural understanding and global topics for educators and students in grades 9 through university, inspiring learners to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to engage responsibly in the 21st century.


Advantages of a holistic approach and global perspective:


  1. Promotes the Big Picture
  2. Is Interdisciplinary
  3. Provides a Framework for Understanding
  4. Anticipates the Long Term
  5. Engages Students in the Learning Process
  6. Inspires a Paradigm Shift

Global Awareness Blog

Finland: Espousing Values in a Globalized World

Five Worldviews, Part IV

Five Worldviews, Part III

Five Worldviews, Part II

Five Worldviews, Part I

A Populist Worldview, Part II

A Populist Worldview, Part I

Reviving Local Traditions in Arles, France

Monte Carlo: The Yacht Epicenter of the Upper 1%

Why Donald Trump is America's President-Elect


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CGA's ground-breaking books feature a lively and original interpretation of global topics that integrate a unique holistic approach and global perspective.



Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World
Gain a clearer picture of today’s ever-changing events through the lens of five distinct worldviews. What worldview do you most closely identify with? Dr. Denise R. Ames. $9.95! (e-reader $7.95)


Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System
Many obstacles obstruct the path to the implementation of universal human rights, but through the work of social movements, activists and organizations this worthy goal can be realized. Dr. Denise R. Ames. $17.95! (e-reader $14.50)



Waves of Global Change: A Holistic World History, Second Edition
From the big bang to the present, this "big picture" approach organizes the overarching development of humans into five major transformations called waves. With an updated chapter 8, The Global Wave. Dr. Denise R. Ames. $34.95 now $22.95! (e-reader $18.95)


Waves of Global Change: An Educator's Handbook for Teaching a Holistic World History
Explains the principles of a holistic world history model for educators to use in the classroom. Dr. Denise R. Ames $17.95 now $14.95 (e-reader $11.95)


International Folktales: For English Language Learners
Folktales from different cultures can add spice to classrooms. Nancy W. Harmon $12.95 now $10.95 (e-reader $8.95)


The Global Economy: Connecting the Roots of A Holistic System
Gives a realistic portrayal of the relationship of the global economy to society and the environment from a holistic perspective. Dr. Denise R. Ames $24.95 now $19.95 (e-reader $15.95)


Financial Literacy: Wall Street and How it Works
Explains the growth of the financial sector, its concentration of wealth, political influence, and contribution to economic inequality. Dr. Denise R. Ames $18.95 now $15.95 (e-reader $12.95)


Connecting the Roots of the Global Economy: A Holistic Approach, Brief Edition
Offers an alternative and understandable approach that gives a realistic portrayal of the relationship of the global economy to society and the environment from a holistic perspective. Dr. Denise R. Ames $19.95 now $16.95 (e-reader $13.95)