Prof. Belanger Earns National Award For Journal Article
February 22, 2013
An article written by Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Belanger on how Stonehill collaborated with Brockton's Cape Verdean Association to create a successful public history project has been recognized by the National Council on Public History (NCPH). The story explains how the local history initiative began and what it has accomplished for both students and local Cape Verdeans.
The NCPH recently announced its award winners for outstanding achievement in a variety of public history formats and Belanger's article has received the G. Wesley Johnson Award. Named in honor of the founding editor of The Public Historian, the award recognizes the most outstanding article appearing in the NCPH journal during the previous volume year.
Her article titled "Public History and Liberal Learning: Making the Case for the Undergraduate Practicum Experience," explores the collaborative public history project between the College and the CVA, a small, nonprofit, community-based organization.
In working together, Stonehill students and teens from the CVA created a public art /history project titled "The 11th Island: Art, Community and Identity in Cape Verdean Brockton." The exhibit included oral history quotes, press clippings, a video of historic images, paintings, and artifacts, all of which shed light on the struggles and richness of Cape Verdean culture. The exhibit is now on permanent display at the CVA.
"I am honored that the NCPH chose to highlight what many might regard as a small project in the world of public history, a local history initiative at a small liberal arts college undertaken by undergraduates," said Belanger on receiving the award.
Called Project SACUTA (Stonehill and Cape Verdean Teens United through the Arts), it brought together Stonehill students and Cape Verdean high school students to undertake an oral history project and create public projects focusing on issues central to the Cape Verdean community in Brockton.
In her article, Belanger explains how her students gained important skills through the public history practicum including teamwork and problem-solving skills, intercultural awareness, and reflective practices.
"I wanted my students to ‘do public history,' believing that a practicum would allow them to connect theory to practice in meaningful ways," Belanger says. Because of her work in the field of community-based learning, she knew of the importance of forming strong partnerships with community organizations.
"While the project taught my students about Cape Verdean American history, the most important lessons they learned were about teamwork, problem-solving, self-reflection, and inter-cultural awareness," notes Belanger.
Brockton is home to the country's largest population of Cape Verdean descendants and with its deep roots in the community, the CVA proved to be a perfect partner. The practicum was a part of a Learning Community called "Art and Civic Culture in Urban Neighborhoods," which brought together Belanger and the late Professor of Arts History Carole Calo (pictured left with Belanger and some of their LC students).
With the recent passing of Calo, winning the G. Wesley Johnson Award has been bittersweet for Belanger.
"The work I did with Project SACUTA was a collaborative effort in every way and Carole's vision and wisdom informed not only what we did, but how we did it. She was a mentor and a friend and I'll miss her. At the heart of the paper is a belief that Carole and I shared, that a liberal education is about more than just the subject matter we teach."
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