Global Jesus Project: Developing an Image Database for the History Classroom

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Luke Clossey, Department of History

Timeframe: December 2016 to August 2017

Funding: $5,000

Course addressed: HIST 368W – History of the Wider World

Description: During the last decade I have collected approximately 16,000 images of early-modern Jesus globally, from the Americas (12 countries), Africa (5), Asia (12), and Europe (25).  I propose to digitize my collection as a teaching tool for HIST 368W. I hope it will enhance learning possibilities by allowing students to interact with fresh (i.e. pre-published) research and with large datasets. I am especially interested in acquiring feedback on students’ use of the database and how it's integrated into the course.

Knowledge sharing: I will advertise the existence of the database, and could do a presentation in the department if the student feedback seemed more broadly applicable.

I have made some informal inquiries about potential use outside of SFU, and was impressed by the range of enthusiasm:  Colleagues in departments of history, art history, religious studies, and literature in Canada (Waterloo, Kwantlen Polytechnic), Europe (National University of Ireland at Galway, University of Liverpool), and the United States (University of Notre Dame, the University of Seattle, California State Fresno, University of Michigan) indicated that they would incorporate a Global Jesus online collection into their classrooms and, in some cases, into their research. Outside the academy, both religion and art command a wide interest, as did, for example, the Provincial Museum of Alberta's Anno Domini: Jesus Through the Centuries exhibition.  The SFU Library's online platform would allow for a global exhibition of a global set of data.

Keywords: Database, digital humanities, Jesus images,  big data, student research, instructor reflections, participant-observation observation, student questionnaire