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Here you will find a comprehensive listing of all COPLACDigital student projects, arranged by course. You can click on a slider image to visit a site, or you navigate to the projects through the "Project Sites" accordions below each slider.
What makes a book “bad”? Examining a book's censorship dispute reveals cultural battlegrounds over topics like sex, race, religion, politics, language, and morality. Teams of students from seven COPLAC institutions across the country participated in this course, selecting a local effort to challenge or censor a book. Their semester-long projects involved researching their case, interviewing experts and participants, using digital tools to explore the historical context for the challenge, and bringing all their research together in a website.
Contemporary America seems more divided than ever before—how do we move forward as a society plagued by these divisions? This was the guiding question behind “Conflict in America: Case Studies in Peace-Making” as groups of students and professors from across the United States came together weekly to discuss and research local examples of conflict—and resolution.
This course was originally imagined as a course that focused on migration into a place and all of the myriad reverberations and ripples such a movement would cause. As the course began this idea was the guiding light for the students as they searched about their communities for that type of historical moment. Urging them to think broadly and work to unshackle themselves from traditional ways of seeing, students set out to explore local history—in search of the newcomer and the "things that they carried."
What makes a community break apart? At many moments in American political and religious history, secessionist and separatist movements have threatened to break away from their own communities and to go it alone. Our students' websites show how secession has been a recurring theme in American history. Projects range chronologically from the 17th to the 21st century; geographically, they spread from Boston to the Rocky Mountains. They explain how and why secessionist communities have formed across time and space: Who joined these movements? Why did they reject their former community? Why did they consider separation, rather than dialogue and reconciliation, the best solution for their concerns?
Every day, each of us gets out of bed and starts preparing for our day. One of the first things we do is get dressed. Casual, formal, active—our fashion choices are unlimited. There’re clothes to choose from, jewelry to select, scarves to contemplate, hats to envision, and more. This course offered students the opportunity to interact with each other and explore the intricacies of fashion. Questions considered include how and why fashion changes, what is the relationship between the individual and fashion, and how does popular culture reflect contemporary fashion.
Erased from our collective memory is awareness of the native societies that once dominated the spaces we now inhabit. Students from five COPLAC colleges researched this hidden history. The organizing question was: How did native people lose their lands where our COPLAC colleges and universities are now situated? Research in books, archives, and museums generated the process of re-envisioning our landscapes through the eyes that looked at them before.
Participating students at each COPLAC institution studied a nearby intentional community—a group of people living communally and sustainably in accordance with explicit, shared values. As they did so, they compared what they saw and heard with what they were learning in our associated course through readings and discussion about past and present experiments in communal living. The students at each institution built a website to profile the community they studied and explore how the community addressed paradigmatic issues and challenges in communal living.
Have you ever wondered why something that you find strange doesn’t even elicit a second glance from someone else? The experience of strangeness doesn’t seem to be purely a matter of a lack of familiarity because there are some things with which we are familiar, but which we still find strange. We know that babies make strange, of course, but perhaps we “make strange” all our lives; perhaps what we find strange has more to do with who we are and the particular society of which we are a part than it has do the “strange things” themselves. These projects explore how we humans process experience—strange or not—and create culture.
This course merged service learning and criminal justice education to teach principles of fairness (justice), ethics (processes) and equity (social equality). Students teams reported important past and present experiences and events surrounding the birth, growth, and the current state of their service organizations. They completed 10+ hours of community service to explore justice advocacy, justice-oriented oral history research, and digital fluencies.
We read books, they surround us, yet we do not really notice them. In this course students learned to see books in new ways, considering questions of bibliography and history. How do we “read” books as material objects? How can the physical properties of books provide clues of the history of their manufacture? What traces do they bear of the hands through which they passed? How might we go about reconstructing histories of readership? How can the study of books lead us to insights about the people in whose lives they figured?
This project, Storied Landscapes, borrows its title from Frances Swyripa’s history of immigrants to the Canadian West, where their evolving cultural identity and the material landscape were not easily separable. History has shaped our experience of nature, but isn’t it also important to ask what stories our landscapes tell us? The student projects here synthesize archival research focused upon a single location with the possibilities of first-person fieldwork and contemplation; they draw upon the powerful technology of nature writing but also contemporary digital tools.
Why do people migrate? Where do they go? What risks and rewards do people face when they are on the move? What are the challenges and benefits for places of reception? How does migration transform individuals, families, and towns? What can we learn about the living history of migration by collecting oral histories and conducting archival research? Our students explored these questions as they recorded the voices of their campuses' communities.