Historians Conlin and Baker Publish Blog Post on Oral History Project

Posted on 7/8/2016 7:53:10 PM

Erin Conlin and Christine Baker collaborated on an oral history project in spring 2016. In Baker's HIST 331, History of the Modern Middle East, with Conlin's assistance, students collected oral histories of Middle Eastern students studying at IUP.

In a blog post for the Education Committee for the Oral History Association, they reflected on the experience. 

A short selection from the post:

"What can we do to teach content and help students overcome feelings distrust or antipathy so they better understand the world today? As educators and historians we should develop activities that build knowledge, understanding, and empathy.

"Dr. Christine Baker undertakes this challenge every semester. As the Middle Eastern historian at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Dr. Baker teaches a variety of courses that cover different periods and people within the Middle East. This past spring semester (2016), she taught a Modern Middle East class. Most students enrolled in the class had limited knowledge of the region or its people (past or present). IUP draws largely on students from Western Pennsylvania. Most live in small towns with relatively homogenous populations, and few students have interacted with anyone from the Middle East.

"Dr. Baker uses a variety of teaching and historical methodologies to engage her students. She approached me about incorporating an oral history component since I am the department’s oral history specialist and coordinator for the IUP Oral History Program. Dr. Baker and discussed the logistics and goals of the class, starting with the goals of the project and identifying how many interviews she hoped to have her students conduct. She identified potential intervieews by networking with Middle Eastern students she knew from previous classes and she asked both IUP’s International Office and the Muslim Student Association to email students to request participants.

"For this blog post, I asked Dr. Baker to reflect various aspects of on the experience.... We selected a few segments to illustrate how oral history can be incorporated into a traditional content-driven history course and highlight the different purposes it serves and opportunities it provides."

Department of History