Talking in Public

This is full video of my appearance on "Story in the Public Square."

Each week, the Pell Center produces episodes of “Story in the Public Square,” a public affairs television series. The show features interviews with today’s best print, screen, music and other storytellers about their creative processes and how their stories impact public understanding and policy.

Hosted by Jim Ludes and G. Wayne Miller, “Story in the Public Square”  aims to study, celebrate, and tell stories that matter.

Story in the Public Square is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal.

“Story in the Public Square” airs on Rhode Island PBS in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. & 9:30 p.m. ET and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124.


Black Economic Development

The semester is coming to an end and I'm hoping to build together some themes linked to the black experience around race and class with readings from Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century by Robert Weems Jr.

The examination of the black consumer culture is worth your time. As I examine the postwar experience for African-Americans, this well-researched work makes it clear how the evolution of white views about the black market changed. Rather than see integration as a net positive, Weems analysis demonstrates how the end of segregation created as many problems and it solves. His work helps to contextualize a narrative that I've heard for years from African-American in Hannibal Square. They talk about the economic stability of the segregation era with a consistency that is difficult to managed with students. Without context, my students easily fall into the trap that "segregation was not that bad."  Of course, a work like Weems allows us to understand how black economic opportunity within a segregated system functioned and how exploitative commercial practice undermined those communities after segregation. He is especially good talking about the marketing targeting black communities. The racial assumption built into the ads aimed at the black community are worth considering as we talk about what black economic efforts have and have not accomplished.


Hannibal Square and Generative Pedagogical Experiences

With the Hannibal Square Reporter online I moved my digital pedagogical practice farther down the path of interactive experiences. As I continue to think about learning in the 21st century, I've been emphasizing a critical making methodology  uses digital tools to explore historical narratives rooted in the community.  These projects create digital artifacts that spotlight the complex links between contemporary concerns and the past.   

For some time my approach has emphasizes recovering narratives linked to the African-American experience in Central Florida.  In this regard, I'm following the path articulated by figure such as Adeline Koh and Roopika Risam in that I'm attempting to bring attention to black voices left out and or under represented in public humanities narratives.  Since I work at Rollins College, i can link this goal to our emphasis on Community Engagement pedagogy.   For me digital history recognizes that community narratives and historiographical framework used to explain U.S. history can be in dialogue in a manner that elevates student learning while providing the public with perspectives that validate and contextualize minority experience.

In truth, there are three historical frameworks that I have identified while thinking  about my approach to critical making in Central Florida. For me interlocking narrative of African-American History, Gilded Age and New South, and Planning History define the region.  Of the three, the African-American experience has taken up the greatest bulk of my recent Digital History work. To be specific the history of Hannibal Square, the African American district in Winter Park is a focal point.  I design my courses with Generative Scholarship methodology at the center of the class experience.  In this approach, course design and community exploration come together in an effort to identify and elevate historical relevant information.  Since the goal for modern developmental course design is to move from a passive to an interactive model, students in my class are "collaborators, creators, and researchers" in service of broader public history goals. Student creators learns while making critical assessment about the community's relationship to broader scholarly historical debates.  As students become more engaged in history though making, the skills they acquire allow them to create more complex and engaging projects.  I point out to students that the ability to present a narrative across platforms will be a crucial skill that will use in real life. This reality is on display with Hannibal Square Reporter.   

Kenneth Cox took several courses with me. Everything from Decade of Decision 1890s, where the class engaged in a Digital Flashback event to a semester long independent study exploring archival sources. With such a deep understanding gleamed from multiple perspectives, he was in a perfect position to create the Hannibal Square Reporter.  While the simulation seems simple, the decision to pursue a text based simulation grew from my own research into game and puzzle creation.  Examining works like Theory of Fun suggested to me that creating games based on a historical significant events could be a great way to engage students in class. My early plan was to create card based game and I intend to continue to develop that idea. However, Ken's own interest in gamification from education perspective (He is pursing K-12 teaching as a career) he was eager to examine the possibility of creating a game based on Hannibal Square and the Hannibal Square Reporter was born.    

More to come:-)