CSU Dominguez Hills, Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum Receive National Endowment for the Humanities Grant
The 2010 fall semester at California State University, Dominguez Hills may have just commenced, but Dr. Laura Talamante, assistant professor of history, and Cheryl McKnight, coordinator of the Center for Service-Learning, Internships & Civic Engagement (SLICE), have already begun planning for summer 2011.
No, they are not making vacation plans, but rather are in the beginning stages of developing a summer workshops series for teachers following word from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that the grant proposal they wrote with Alison Bruesehoff, executive director of Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, was approved.
Under its Landmarks of American History and Culture program, the NEH has awarded CSU Dominguez Hills and the Rancho a $171,788 grant to organize and offer American culture and history workshops for K-12 teachers nationwide. Talamante, Bruesehoff and McKnight’s proposal, “American History Through the Eyes of a California Family 1780s to 1920s,” also received a “We the People” designation for its “efforts to strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture,” according to an NEH press release.
“Family history is the framework, and that opened opportunities to examine a number of issues that are essential to understanding the development of not just California’s, but the nation’s history,” said Talamante, project co-director along with Bruesehoff. “The workshops will give teachers in California and the nation an opportunity to see and learn how their local historical landmarks might be used in curriculum plans to explore local, national and perhaps even international history.”
Using the Rancho and the Dominguez Family as the model also afforded the opportunity to bring together multiple disciplines at the university and showcase “the strengths of what we have at CSU Dominguez Hills,” Talamante said.
From the Department of Anthropology, Dr. Jerry Moore, who is conducting archeological digs at the Rancho site, will lead tours of the dig and discuss what the artifacts found reveal about the past, and Dr. Janine Gasco will lead discussions on the region’s indigenous populations and the impacts of Spanish colonization and westward expansion. Chicana/o studies assistant professor Dr. Marisela Chavez, emeritus history professor Dr. Judson Grenier, Talamante and Bruesehoff will further explore through the eyes of the Dominguez family the political, social and cultural changes that were occurring in California and the nation. Thomas Philo with the University Library Archives and Special Collections will introduce archival resources, and visiting history professors, Dr. Jane Dabel of CSU Long Beach and Dr. Jennifer Koslow of Florida State University at Tallahassee, will work with participants on how to use these sources in the classroom. Lunches will even serve as teachable moments, with McKnight examining how food stuffs and cooking methods of indigenous people migrated north and were integrated into the various cultures of America.
In addition to the lectures, workshop participants will tour the Dominguez Rancho Adobe and other historic sites, such as the Mission San Gabriel and Olvera Street. Bruesehoff said this type of experiential learning helps teachers gain a deeper understanding of the different cultures that shaped America and in turn helps enrich their classroom teaching.
“As the home of the family who helped shape L.A. and southern California, the rancho is a physical representation of history,” said Bruesehoff. “Getting a chance to work with actual objects that go back hundreds of years is a rare experience, and the museum is excited to partner with the university to provide such an experiential learning opportunity for teachers.”
Each week-long session will be open to a maximum of 40 teachers from across the country. Notices about the workshops and how to apply will be sent to schools and through various education venues beginning in early spring 2011. The selected teachers will receive a stipend for travel expenses.
The grant was one of 201 grants totaling $31.5 million that NEH awarded to humanities projects nationwide. For details, click here.
For more information about the CSUDH/Dominguez Rancho “American History Through the Eyes of a California Family 1780s to 1920s” project, Cheryl McKnight, project coordinator, at (310) 243-2438.
- Amy Bentley-Smith
Image above: The university's workshops for teachers will show them innovative ways to personalize the teaching of history through stories like that of the Dominguez family. Pictured is Manuel Dominguez, an early Californio rancher and statesman, after whose family the university is named.
Courtesy of Tom Philo, Archives and Special Collections