UC Davis Faculty Practice Humanities Research and Community Engagement

Three UC Davis faculty members were awarded the UC President’s Public Partnerships in the Humanities grants from the University of California Humanities Research Institute. Claire Napawan and Sheryl-Ann Simpson, assistant professors in Human Ecology, received support for their project “Our Changing Climate: Resilience Networks at the Community Scale,” and Robyn Rodriguez, associate professor in Asian American Studies, will use the funding towards her project, “WELGA! Filipino-American Perspectives on the Grape Strike of 1965.”

The Public Partnership grants are designed to support innovative humanities research with community engagement. This unique grant program requires the recipients to partner with their campus humanities center, in this case the Davis Humanities Institute, and build relationships between the UC campus and the grantee’s research community through shared engagements and events. Ideally, these grants will foster interactions with groups inside and outside the academy in both the production and distribution of the project’s research.

Our Changing Climate: Resilience Networks at the Community Scale”

Napawan and Simpson’s “Our Climate Change” project addresses the need for local perspectives on climate change by leveraging social network and digital media tools to establish a digital community network that will foster community involvement. These include opportunities to contribute images and narratives to community-generated neighborhood resilience mapping; and community participation in on-going local conversations about climate change resilience.

“Our Climate Change” project fills a gap in knowledge about the impacts of climate change. The effects may be well known to the academics who study them, but to the average individual, however, predicted environmental change can be difficult to grasp. Napawan and Simpson write, “There is a need to better understand the sometime-subtle, local, and everyday ways in which people are experiencing climate change.”

This project aims to make the impacts of climate change more comprehensible on the neighborhood scale, particularly within vulnerable communities with limited access to contributing to dialogues regarding resilience. Napawan says, “The entire project team is very excited for the opportunity to pursue our project with the support of the UCHRI and DHI. The project includes collaboration with existing non-profit groups in vulnerable communities to record and dialogue the impacts of climate change at the local scale. It will allow us to continue our investigation of the role of environmental design in building community-based resilience networks.”

“Welga! Filipino American Stories of the Great Grape Strike of 1965”

The second project Community Partnerships project is directed by associate professor in Asian and Asian American Studies at UC Davis, Robyn Rodriguez. “Welga! Filipino American Stories of the Great Grape Strike of 1965,” is dedicated to documenting Filipino leadership in the 1965 Delano grape strike and following labor movements. Welga is the Tagalog/Filipino word for strike, and this project intends to bring attention to the important contributions of Filipinos to the farmworker struggle in California.

The project will collect the oral histories of 1965 strike participants and supporters and add them to a digital archive alongside strike-related materials. The materials gathered through this 15-month project will be housed on a publicly accessible website and physical archive which will be launched in September 2015, the strike’s 50th anniversary.

Jillian Mariano assists Rodriguez as the Welga Project Coordinator. Mariano is a UC Davis undergraduate student majoring in Asian American Studies and Communications major, and activist for social justice regarding the lives and legacies of Filipinos’ contributions to the agricultural labor movement in California. Other collaborators in the project include archivist Jason Sarmiento, humanities advisor Greg Morozumi, and videographer Glenn Aquino. On October 24, Rodriguez and others launched the Welga Project at Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, California. The event included a screening of Marisa Aroy’s film Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers, cultural performers and a photo exhibit featuring some of the initial material collected for the digital archive.

The Welga Project also includes collaboration with key community stakeholders in the city of Delano, California to install permanent QR (Quick Response) markers at appropriate sites related to the 1965 strike. These QR codes will link directly to audio and visual material on the website. The groundbreaking for the QR codes as well as a documentary film that highlights both the Welga research process and the stories gathered through it will take place during Filipino-American History month in October 2015. Additionally, a teacher’s resource guide will be produced to support the implementation of AB123, legislation recently signed into law by the state of California, which mandates the teaching of Filipinos’ contribution to the farm worker struggle.

Stephanie Maroney, DHI Graduate Student Researcher and doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies