Oral History in the Liberal Arts

COVID-19 Update

The Global Course Connections and Oral History workshops at USFQ have been cancelled. We are exploring offering virtual workshops.

Oral History in the Liberal Arts (OHLA) is a faculty collective supporting faculty and students who engage in community-based learning and undergraduate research using best-practice interview methods and a curated set of digital tools. OHLA projects result in public-facing digital exhibits, as well as pedagogical strategies, reflections, and tutorials developed for OHLA’s online resource hub.

The OHLA site has resources and reflective essays written by OHLA faculty, students, digital librarians, and instructional technologists.

Call for Proposals

The Global Liberal Arts Alliance is soliciting proposals for oral history projects collaboratively developed and implemented at two or more Alliance campuses. Please read the OHLA Call for Proposals to learn how to participate. Oral history projects could involve faculty or faculty-student research and they can easily be a component of a Globally Connected Course. Faculty whose proposal has been accepted will be invited to a three-day workshop to be held at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito on June 8-10, 2020. The workshop will be run by Brooke Blackmon Bryan, OHLA Project Director.

Why Oral History?

OHLA treats oral history as a research methodology that can be easily harnessed in undergraduate fieldwork. OHLA participants are not oral historians per se, they are literature professors or environmental scientists looking to engage students in highly experiential ways of exploring the themes in their courses. With the encompassing ethical notion of “informed consent“ and basic best practices, this form of interviewing can be quickly learned and employed to provide structure for student inquiry outside of the classroom— while generating primary source material with diverse communities to bring back into the classroom.

Why Digital Scholarship & Digital Storytelling?

Research suggests that students more fully engage in their learning when they have a meaningful audience for their work, when their findings have an impact beyond their course, and when they are active participants in designing the learning process and its outcomes.

Tools for digital scholarship such as the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer provide a platform for close listening and controlled exposition that synthesizes and thematizes interview segments. Digital storytelling tools such as Storymaps or Timeline support multimedia assemblages featuring narrative, place data, and imagery. When the multimedia work developed in these tools is published as a capstone digital project, faculty-mentored student research realizes multiple audiences, completing a “high impact” loop of participatory inquiry and meaningful assignments that animate course-level and program-level learning outcomes.