FNST 462: Testimonio/Oral History: Towards Environmental and Social Justice
Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)
Grant recipient: annie ross, First Nations Studies
Project team: Daniel Pierce, research assistant
Timeframe: January to April 2012
Final report: View annie ross's final project report (PDF), which includes a student letter describing the impact of the course.
From the final report: "One student remarked that his generation feels useless and without any desire to do anything. He said, 'So many of my friends don’t care about anything, there is nothing for us to do.' This course, the people we met, the power of the work, made him feel he was able to do something in the world." Read more >>
Description: Testimonio is a courageous confrontation with, and witness to, the past and present in order to create a more just future for all people and living beings. It is a significant tool and vehicle, especially in aboriginal and other marginalized societies, for reconciliation with a past and present that is often troubled and confounded as a result of state- and church-sponsored forced assimilation, resource wars, marginalization, and dispossession.
This project will allow students in FNST 462 Testimonio/Oral History: Towards Environmental and Social Justice to learn about oral history/testimonio through the creation of interview videos. Students will learn the technical aspects of oral history/testimonio, the parameters of SFU internal policies, and community First Nations external protocols. They will create a short self-reflection at the end of each media piece that focuses on (a) their experience in taking the oral history/testimonio course, and (b) what they learned from this experience in general and in relationship to course goals. These self-reflections will become a permanent part of the videos, which will be deposited in the Kitchen Table Stories oral history archive, a chronicle of diverse people sharing their experiences and observations regarding social and environmental justice in their home communities. The text of the student self-reflections will be transcribed and coded to look for themes consistent with course goals. A research assistant will help students with technical questions related to the use of computers and digital cameras for the project.
My desire is that this approach will make the issues at the very foundation of this course “come alive” for students. I have wanted to explore the use of media projects within the context of oral history for quite some time as a bone fide community and academic practice with potential applications for public policy, student capacity building, development of community voice, and empowerment. The analysis of the student self-reflections will help me to improve the design of this assignment in subsequent semesters. For students, the process of self-reflection will be a way to more deeply understand what they have experienced, learned, and given back to a community in the course of their learning experience at SFU.
- What do students say they learned in performing oral history/testimonio research?
- How do students create an ethical, accountable, and professional method and practice with which to move forward in their own research, practice, or being in the world?
- How do students apply their semester media project in a real-world setting?
- How do students verbalize their experience in an oral history media-piece format?
- How do students and the principal investigator work as a team to fulfill course goals?
Knowledge sharing: The videos, including student self-reflections, will be deposited in the Kitchen Table Stories oral history archive, a chronicle of diverse people sharing their experiences and observations regarding social and environmental justice in their home communities.