Announcing Faculty Initiative Fund 2016 recipients

HIA is pleased to announce four Faculty Initiative Fund (FIF) recipients for 2016.

Congratulations to the recipients and best of luck as they move forward with their projects!

Check back here for project updates as well as future calls for applications.

Prof. Deborah Coen will be using the FIF for a mini-course on exhibit design for the environmental humanities. The mini-course, to meet in spring 2017, would give history Ph.D. students the skills they need to communicate research in the environmental humanities in the form of an engaging and informative public exhibit.

Coen writes:

“Central to the disciplines of conservation biology and environmental ethics, biodiversity operates as both fact and value in wider public debates about the preservation of species and habitats from human influence, exploitation, and destruction. Indeed, biodiversity has optimistically been identified as a value that unites the sciences with many world religions today. Yet different stakeholders value the diversity of life for different reasons, including a variety of considerations about utility, ethics, and aesthetics. These disparate values have generated competing measures of biodiversity and conflicting prescriptions for its preservation. These ambiguities have begun to receive attention from philosophers, but their historical dimension has largely been neglected. This project seeks to identify the multiple historical origins of the values associated with biodiversity today, in order to better understand the conflicts and complementarities among these divergent perspectives and their implications for scientific research and policy today.”

Prof. Frank Guridy plans to form a working group to develop an undergraduate/graduate Public History Seminar on the 1968 protests at Columbia University. The seminar would be a new course offered in the Department of History and crosslisted with the Institute for Research in African American Studies. The course would enable students to explore various methods and forms of public history, but its primary goal will be to produce a public history of the student (and community) protests that enveloped the campus of Columbia University in 1968. Modeled after the recently designed “Columbia University and Slavery” course, the class aims to launch a website that will feature student research and will be timed with the fiftieth anniversary of the protests in the Spring of 2018.

Guridy writes:

“Although the protest is one of the more well-known uprisings of that tumultuous year, reliable historical treatment is still lacking even though it is arguably one of the most important events in the university’s history. The goal of the website is to open up a discussion of all the issues connected with the protests, its global, national, and local context, and its aftermath. My hope is for the course to raise questions, elicit curiosity, and encourage students (grad and undergrad) and those interested in Columbia and Morningside Heights history to continue to dig into the history of what has to be one of the most important historical events to take place on campus.”

Prof. Mark Mazower and Michael Davies will be collaborating to teaching history using digital technology and competing narratives. Students will join a small team in led by Davies using a new technology platform, Touchcast, to develop an innovative way of teaching the history of conflict in areas where that conflict still persists.

Davies writes (see full story):

“By giving students extracts from the book in its English translation, supplemented by access to a wide range of web-based source evidence, news reels, oral histories, music, even recipes, we can challenge them to immerse themselves in the two cultures and two stories and look behind the propaganda to work out the most truthful narrative.

As Cohen says: ‘There are really two kinds of people: those who understand that history is constructed, and those who don’t.’ It’s an approach, furthermore, that would offer Muslim students a sense that their voice is being listened to, that their stories are being heard and studied. It’s an approach which, I hope, could mean they will no longer be underrepresented in history A-level classes. Free and open discussion is the best way to build community cohesion.”

Prof. Pablo Piccato will be using the FIF to update and produce a new interface for a series of a database of criminal statistics extracted from judicial sources now currently available in Spanish and in a simple format.

Piccato writes:

“It will be of great relevance for scholars and students who approach the study of crime in Mexico today. Contemporary treatments of the problem tend to look at ten to fifteen years into the past, assuming that drug trafficking is the only explanation for the increase in homicide rates in the last ten years. A historical perspective will be useful to correct this assumption and to provide researchers with data to test other possibilities at the state and national level and in broader chronological frameworks. We plan to launch the new website at about the same time as Piccato’s forthcoming book (A History of Infamy: Crime, Truth and Justice in Mexico, University of California Press) appears in the spring of 2016.”

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