Oral History in Interdisciplinary Community College Pedagogy

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Oral History in Interdisciplinary Community College Pedagogy: Centering the Community in the Classroom is funded by the National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) for 2023-2025 to introduce oral history techniques to community college faculty’s pedagogical practices. The project is co-led by an interdiciplinary team: Thomas Cleary (PI/Library), Molly Rosner (LaGuardia and Wagner Archives), and Tomonori Nagano (Education and Language Acquisition Dept).

Oral history is an interactive method and inquiry process on a topic, as well as how a topic is remembered. These interviews help document and preserve experiences, cultures, and events that may otherwise be lost to the historical record and provides insight into how people recollect and derive meaning from those experiences. Through interviewing, participants can reflect on complex issues and experiences from multiple perspectives. Oral history helps illuminate personal perspectives for complex events like war, pandemics, immigration, persecutions, health care, housing/food insecurity, and community activism. In short, oral history is a method for combating institutional biases and highlighting marginalized perspectives, an issue that the humanities strive to address.

The goal of Oral History in Interdisciplinary Community College Pedagogy is to empower community college faculty with the skills to bring oral history interviews into their own pedagogical practices through a series of year-long workshops. The faculty will engage in interviewing, deep listening, and analysis of oral history materials in their disciplines. Through this engagement, the faculty will explore how oral history practices can help recenter their teaching practices to the vantage points of individuals and communities of minority groups whose perspectives are often marginalized in published materials and media. The project helps faculty and students from minority backgrounds integrate their own experiences and perspectives into pedagogy and research in their discipline. Oral History in Interdisciplinary Community College Pedagogy will not only broaden the scope of historical narratives that are collected and preserved, it can also sharpen the relevance of local history and community action to students’ learning experience at a community college.

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