American Studies majors embark on intercultural experiences beyond the classroom

Miami students in the American Studies program, as part of the College of Arts and Science's recently unveiled Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, have tackled a number of valuable research and experiential learning projects with faculty during the 2015-16 academic year.

"These projects connect the classroom with the outside world and provide American Studies majors with numerous intercultural skills to aid their overall global perspective," said Kimberly Hamlin, director of American Studies and associate professor of American Studies and History.

Research Partnership with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma

enlarged photo of ESTOO groupAssistant professor of American Studies Sande Garner continued to solidify and grow Miami's collaborative relationship with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma (ESTOO) through her summer workshop, "Engaging Native Youth." She also teaches AMS 301 - American Identities, which has recently received service learning designation for the innovative work Miami students do in collaboration with ESTOO.

In June 2015, Dr. Garner traveled with five participants, four of whom are recent Miami graduates, to Oklahoma to support the ESTOO's summer youth culture camp.

"We started developing this idea of community-driven research arrangements between the classes I teach here and the research for the tribe," said Garner.

Twenty-two Shawnee youth participated in the camp. Activities included archery, basket-making, leather-work, beadwork, lacrosse, horseback riding, and stomp dance around the theme of kinship and language.

On the Saturday before camp began, Chief Glenna Wallace treated the Miami students to a day trip to Branson, Missouri to tour the extensive private collection of Native American artifacts owned by Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops.

"We look forward to another great trip to work with the ESTOO this June," Garner said.

Examining Sexual Identity in Post-war San Francisco

enlarged photo of Lana Pochiro at workOver the past year, Damon Scott, a lecturer in American Studies and geography, worked with Lana Pochiro, a former student from his Renewing the American City AMS course, on a digital humanities project, "Queer Cartographies: Urban Redevelopment and the Changing Sexual Geography of Post-war San Francisco."

The project is funded by the Miami University Humanities Center, which selected Lana as an Undergraduate Research Apprentice to work closely with Dr. Scott on using GIS to prepare several maps that will illustrate his book manuscript, The City Aroused.

“During the 1950s and 60s, San Francisco's urban redevelopment aroused a complex cultural response by the queer community," said Scott. "Lana and I have been analyzing planning documents, city directories, real estate transaction records, and gay newspapers to produce a series of maps that depict these new forms of social organizing around sexual identity during that period."

Lana is a senior Political Science and Urban & Regional Planning major with an Arabic minor. She has interned at Miami's Women's Center and is an active member of the student organization Feminists Working on Real Democracy.

Other Intercultural Experiences in American Studies

American Studies students participated in other out-of-classroom opportunities during the past academic year, including:

  • Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy, lecturer in American Studies, led her AMS 302 students in a research project focusing on the Carnival traditions of the various immigrant communities living in the US. Their posters were displayed during the Miami University Carnival Celebrations in February.
  • Helen Sheumaker, lecturer in American Studies and history, and her students researched and wrote biographies of 19th and 20th century Miami students who served in the military. The biographies are on the Veteran's Tribute webpage on the Miami University Alumni Association website. Her public history students also participated in a History Harvest with Oxford community members.