Teaching Oral History as a Response to Collective Trauma



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Engage students in active research projects that help them process shared trauma while empowering them to make a difference in local, national, and global communities. 


Oral history is the collection, preservation, and circulation of life stories that provide witness testimony to historical events that impact people in multiple every day and life-changing ways. 

Every student in higher education is suffering from the impacts of COVID-19, and for many this communal trauma is compounded by the fight for racial justice. No one will emerge from these experiences unaffected. While the classroom often remains one of the only constants for students facing upheaval from global, national, and regional crises, problems facing them off-campus often impede their learning. Students may experience anxiety, withdrawal, difficulty focusing and engaging, and/or trouble thinking critically. Many faculty are unprepared to respond to these concerns and unequipped to teach in times of disaster, especially when they are simultaneously living through the same catastrophic events. This workshop focuses on some ways in which coursework and campus-wide projects can encourage healing and empowerment by engaging students and other members of campus communities in active learning projects. 

Join us to learn how Dr. Ricia Anne Chansky crafted a large-scale oral history project on her campus to engage students in community-based research and healing in the aftermath of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico. You will have the opportunity to hear from a student who participated in this project, Gabrielle Armstrong Velázquez. In this workshop, you’ll learn: 

  • The benefits of oral history as an action-oriented research methodology that supports students and campus community members in times of collective trauma and tragedy 
  • How to employ this technique in multiple disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, engineering, agriculture, and business 
  • Approaches to adapting oral history-based projects for individual classrooms, departmental-level projects, cross-campus initiatives, and community partnerships 
  • Possibilities for engaging students in community-partnered research projects employing elements of service learning and social justice 
  • Strategies for encouraging students to participate in problem-solving and rebuilding their communities while resituating themselves and working to address collective trauma 


Who Should Attend

If you're looking to help your students cope with the collective trauma of this year and push forward in meaningful ways, this training is for you. Instructors across disciplines will learn how to use oral history as a research methodology and as an approach to trauma-informed teaching during COVID-19.  


Limited Attendance

In order to ensure a high-quality learning experience, we have intentionally designed this Virtual Training to have a limited number of total attendees. To ensure access from both paying participants and also from those who have an All-Inclusive membership, when the membership cap is reached, only paying participants can register after that point (while spaces are still available). If you have questions about whether this program is right for you, please contact us.

The Academic Impressions Online Learning Experience

Intentionally Designed
Online Learning

Our virtual trainings go far beyond just replicating PowerPoint presentations online: these experiences are intentionally designed to give you the kind of robust and dynamic learning experience you’ve come to expect from Academic Impressions. These trainings provide you with an active learning environment and an online space where you can explore ideas, get inspired by what your peers are doing, and understand the range of possibilities around a certain topic. You will leave these sessions with practical solutions that you can take back to your team or task force.

What you will get:

  • A dynamic, interactive, and high-touch virtual learning experience designed to engage and set you up for growth
  • Seamless online face-time, networking, group work, and Q&A opportunities from the comfort of your own workspace
  • Practical takeaways and hands-on knowledge
  • Guidance from vetted subject matter experts
  • Unlimited access to all recorded online sessions


January 202021

1:00 - 3:30 p.m. Eastern


Throughout this workshop, you will practice strategies you can implement in the classroom.  


Introduction to Oral History 

  • What is oral history? 
  • How can we use it as a research methodology? 
  • Practice a strategy for the classroom: the six-word memoir 



Interviewing as Research 

  • Talk to a student participant in the oral history project and understand the impact 
  • Explore StoryCorps and hear examples of interviews 
  • Practice a strategy for the classroom: complete five-minute interviews 
  • Read an excerpt and learn how to pull data from oral histories 



Implementing Oral History in the Classroom 

  • Learn simple steps and broader strategies to engage your classroom in oral history 


Portrait of Ricia Anne Chansky

Dr. Ricia Chansky 

Professor of Literature, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

Ricia is the co-editor of the scholarly journal a/b: Auto/Biography Studies and editor of the Routledge Auto/Biography Studies book series. Her book publications include the co-edited volumes: The Routledge Auto/Biography Studies Reader; Life Writing Outside the Lines: Gender and Genre in the Americas; and, The Untied States: Unraveling National Identity in the Twenty-First Century (forthcoming). 

Read Speaker's Full Bio.


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