As my students navigated the tremendous difficulties caused by the COVID pandemic, several confessed to me that they felt like they were making history. Building on these sentiments, one of their final assignments encouraged them to do just that. Over the course of spring quarter my students followed an issue that was important to them. Many chose COVID-19, others chronicled the 2020 presidential election, some investigated how the global shut down might impact climate change. Each week, they selected two media articles on their topic and wrote a brief analysis.
The podcasts and blogposts featured here are the culmination of this work. In them, students provide informed reflections on their topic. They also make important connections with the themes we discussed in class. This was a critical part of the assignment because my students and I intentionally maintained a very uncomfortable relationship to the course and its official title “Western Civilization.” Rather than cataloging a series of so-called western achievements, we spent the term interrogating the very idea of “The West.” We learned how the privileging of certain histories silences others. We learned how past silences obscure contemporary problems such as systemic racism and gender inequity. We also learned how some history—such as European and American imperialism, neo-colonialism, and the history of unfree labor—happened in plain sight.