Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change
Spring 2016 Six-Session Introductory Online Class

Wednesdays 12:30 - 1:45pm ET
April 6th - May 11th, 2016


Registration closes March 16th.

Course Info  *  Instructor Bios *  Registration Info

Course Info

Oral history has the potential to transform public dialogue and thinking about the most important issues of our time—race, police violence, income inequality, gentrification, gender violence, the crisis of democracy—by surfacing and amplifying diverse voices in the public sphere, providing new perspectives, nuance and historical context.

Join Groundswell in this six-session, online learning opportunity. In it you will learn from members of the Groundswell Network about how to design and implement an oral history project that addresses individual, community and social justice issues. You will meet others from around the country who are interested in learning how oral history can strengthen their work to build a more just world and you will learn more about Groundswell and other oral history resources that can support your ongoing work.

With Alisa Del Tufo of Groundswell and Threshold Collaborative as the lead instructor, 4 of the 6 sessions will also have a guest instructor. Each guest instructor was chosen because of their unique experience and understanding of the focus of that session. Guest instructor’s names and affiliations are listed below.

The readings for the class are primarily from four books: Introduction to Community Oral History by Mary Kay Quinlan; Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History by Sherna Gluck; Doing Oral History by Donald Ritchie and Sweatshop Warriors by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie. Although you are encouraged to purchase these books, the sections that we will use in class will be scanned and stored in a Drop Box folder. In addition there will be links to online content including audio files.

It is expected that every participant will arrive on time, stay for the full class, complete the full 6 sessions and participate as fully as possible and be respectful of the other participants. Your full engagement will help make each session as meaningful as possible and allow for a rich flow of information and experience.

In addition to reading and class participation, each participant will envision an oral history project that has a focus on a community social justice issue or theme. During our time together you will flesh those ideas out and share them with others.

View full course outline here.


Instructor Bios

Alisa Del Tufo – Lead Instructor
Alisa has worked to support justice and to strengthen empathy throughout her life. Raising over 80 million dollars, she founded three game changing organizations: Sanctuary for Families, CONNECT and, most recently, Threshold Collaborative. She is also one of the co-founders of Groundswell. In the early 1990s she pioneered the use of oral history and community engagement to build grassroots change around the issues of family, and intimate violence. Her innovations have been recognized through Revson, Rockefeller, and Ashoka Fellowships.

Her current project, Threshold Collaborative, uses story as a catalyst for change. Threshold Collaborative’s work deepens empathy and ignites action in order to build more just, healthy and caring communities. They work with justice seeking people and organizations around the country.

Nissa Chan
Nissa Chan is a media artist and community organizer.  She is the co-founder of the Justice for Kenny Coalition and Families United 4 Justice, both family-led initiatives to bring awareness of police violence issues through sharing the collective experience of those affected by policeviolence.  For the last 6 years Nissa has been working on a long term documentary project called the Forced Trajectory Project, which documents the narratives of families who have lost loved ones to police violence.

The Forced Trajectory Project is a long-term multimedia project documenting the lasting effects police violence has on communities across the country. This online project utilizes interviews, pictures, video, and sound in documenting the stories of families who have suffered the loss of a loved one at the hands of the police, in order to amplify the voices of the families and to inform the discussion of social change in the United States.

Kiera James Anderson
Kiera James Anderson is an artist-storyteller and academic currently residing in unceded Coast Salish territories. They have a background in environmental and feminist/queer community organising. At present, Kiera is doing a PhD at the University of Dundee in Scotland, focused on narratives of conflict and trauma in land-based resistance movements. A central focus of their research and praxis is the history of anti-oppression and safer space organizing in the early 2000s within the grassroots environmental network Earth First!.

They are also re-launching the online resource Consent Culture to explore the links between gendered violence and state repression. Consent Culture was developed by Kitty Stryker, as part of her activist and education work around consent and accountability within the alt-sex and BDSM communities. The site has been a space to explore the different forms of entitlement that underpin what many refer to as ‘rape culture’. The re-launched site will build on Kitty’s work and also offer articles and material that explore how aspects of ‘entitlement culture’ relate to state repression and police brutality within marginalized communities and activist networks.

Helyx Chase
In addition to being an independant video artist, Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz is a cord wrangler (read: Tech Manager) for the Media Mobilizing Project and is the Philadelphia Coordinator for the Transgender Oral History Project. Helyx is passionate about storytelling as a means to draw connections within and between communities. Their video art is built by about and for televisions and computers. Helyx holds a B.A. from Hampshire College where they studied Video, Activism and Youth Development.   

Terrell Frazier
Terrell is a Ph.D. student in Sociology and a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow at Columbia University. Before joining the Sociology department, Terrell completed his M.A. in African-American Studies at Columbia, where he also worked as the Director of Education and Outreach for the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and as a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics.  While at the Center for Oral History Research, he launched the Telling Lives: Oral History for Social Change workshop series and co-edited Documenting and Interpreting Conflict Through Oral History. His current research explores—using both narrative and network methods—the relationship between social movement actors’ social positions and their capacities for strategic action.


Registration Info

This class is now full! 

If you would like to be added to the class waitlist, please e-mail classes@oralhistoryforsocialchange.org and we will let you know if any spots open up. If you are interested in learning about future class offerings,
please sign up for our Groundswell Announcements list, here.