Northridge

Public History Project Challenges Assumptions About Immigrants and the Environment

Multidisciplinary

 

 

​​​​Students and faculty from CSUN’s Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies and University of California, Santa Barbara’s Asian American Studies have partnered with local environmental justice organizations in a public history project to explore how environmental justice affects Southern California immigrants. Funded by California Humanities, oral histories and other research products are being shared through public programs and a community-created exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. The museum exhibit will coincide with the arrival of a traveling exhibit curated by the Humanities Action Lab—an international coalition of universities, issue organizations and public spaces in 40 cities—of which CSUN is a core partner. The exhibits provide platforms for civic engagement that challenge our understanding of how migrants and the larger social condition of immigration are intertwined with environmental concerns. 

CSUN Chicana/o studies professor Stevie Ruiz and students held workshops across Los Angeles last summer to teach participants, mostly high-school and college-age young adults, environmental justice research and methods to advocate for the environmental health of their communities. These skills help them to conduct oral histories with local leaders, family members and teachers about local environmental issues. The oral histories, which will inform the museum exhibits, give them an understanding of the environmental issues, connect generations and inspire solutions to address climate change. 

In spring 2022, the Humanities Action Lab traveling exhibit will be housed at museums, public libraries, cultural centers and other spaces in the communities that co-created them. Southern California chapter community partners include Padres Pioneros, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Southern California chapter community partners include Padres Pioneros, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Japanese American National Museum and the National Park Service.