The Race and Oral History Project (ROHP) is a multi-faceted curricular experience for undergraduates to engage the history and contemporary life of understudied racial and ethnic communities in San Diego. It connects knowledge acquired in the classroom with how it is applied or experienced by people in surrounding communities. Students will learn to conduct community-based research, develop public and digital humanities skills, and preserve a collection of oral histories for future scholarship on San Diego.

Oral history projects help undergraduate students learn a wide range of content knowledge and skills and to conduct their own research. Students in this course will learn the history of race in San Diego and be trained to conduct ethical, rigorous, and nuanced oral history research in partnership with local communities. With its focus on the history and contemporary life of race and ethnic populations in our city, this project advances UC San Diego’s strategic research initiative, “Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society,” and helps fill the need for more courses that give students “hands-on” experience in contributing to broader public knowledge about the experiences of race in San Diego. It consists of three parts: 1) a new 4-unit course in Race and Oral History in San Diego; 2) a new 2-unit Academic Internship Program (AIP) in Race and Oral History in San Diego; and, 3) a Project Town Hall. We aim to equip students with the research methods to conceptualize, conduct, analyze, and digitally archive oral history interviews of individuals who have diverse memories of inequality and struggles for equality. Students will improve their digital and informational literacies, gaining transferable skills valuable for virtually any career path in today’s interconnected world. Our goal is to inspire students to consider how what they learn on campus is applied or experienced off campus and, in turn, how the histories of racial and ethnic communities in San Diego have much to offer all of us.

Part I, A new 4-unit course in Race and Oral History in San Diego: Luis Alvarez (Associate Professor of History and Director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities), Yen Espiritu (Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies), and Simeon Man (Assistant Professor of History) will build the course syllabus in Summer 2017 and one of the three will be instructor of record in winter or spring quarter 2018. Focusing on the intersection of history, memory and life story narratives, the course aims to train students in oral history method, theory, and interpretation; and to provide them a primer on the history of race in San Diego with which to analyze their oral history interview. Students will make ample use of five five-minute training videos produced in conjunction with ETS on the value of oral history, proper methods, archiving, and digital humanities. The videos will be produced in Summer 2017 and feature UCSD faculty with expertise in oral history. Students in the course will work closely with the instructor in selecting and contacting interview subjects, organizing the interviews, and preserving and presenting the oral histories. The primary outcome of the course is to produce a collection of oral history interviews in audio and/or video format to be archived at the Geisel Library and made publicly available online.

Part II, A 2-unit Academic Internship Program (AIP): The AIP includes five workshops on fieldwork, production, and archiving. The AIP will be required for all students in the 4-unit course and offered to students in concurrent courses where content is applicable to the Project. In consultation with Tricia Taylor Oliveira, Director of AIP, the 2-unit module will include five 80-minute training workshops and a fieldwork component wherein students coordinate, conduct, digitize, and present oral history interviews in collaboration with community partners. The workshops will be designed during Summer 2017 and will run concurrently with the 4-unit course. They will address: 1) Oral History Methods and Technology; 2) Oral History Practicum (where students conduct interviews in the “field”); 3) Archiving and Public Humanities (This workshop will also include an event with Dr. Thuy Vo Dang, Inaugural Project Director of VietStories, the Vietnamese American Oral History Project at UC Irvine); 4) Digital Humanities and Oral History (This workshop will also include an event with The Women Who Rock Digital Oral History Collective at the University of Washington, Seattle); and 5) Project Town Hall. As part of the AIP module, students will conduct weekly fieldwork exercises, including building relationships with community partners, designing oral history questions, conducting an oral history interview, digitizing research findings, and presenting oral histories. Part III is the Project Town Hall. As the capstone event of the project, it will bring together students, faculty, staff, and community members involved in the project to assess the project and view public presentations of oral histories by the students in the 4-unit course and 2-unit AIP.


This project is the result of a year-long initiative in Race and Oral History in San Diego by a committed group of faculty, staff, and graduate students. We have been meeting under the auspices of Institute of Arts and Humanities (IAH), yet involve representatives from IAH, the History Department, the Ethnic Studies Department, Academic Internship Program (AIP), Chicana/o Latina/o Arts and Humanities minor and program (CLAH), African American Studies minor and program (AAS), the Cross Cultural Center, and the UC San Diego Library. The individuals involved include:

Luis Alvarez, Associate Professor of History and Director, IAH
Yen Espiritu, Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies
Yessica Garcia, Graduate Student, Ethnic Studies
Erin Glass, Digital Humanities Director, IAH and UC San Diego Library
Mya Hines, Coordinator, African American Studies minor and program
Simeon Man, Assistant Professor of History
Alanna Moore, Academic Liaisons Coordinator and Librarian for Sociology, Ethnic Studies and
Gender Studies in the UC San Diego Library
Omar Padilla, Graduate Student, Ethnic Studies
Olivia Quintanilla, Graduate Student, Ethnic Studies
Diana Soqui, Coordinator, Chicana/o Latina/o Arts and Humanities minor and program
Tricia Taylor Oliveira, Director, Academic Internship Program (AIP)
Edwina Welch, Director, Cross-Cultural Center