Back in July, I attended nerd camp, THATCamp CHNM. I learned about the visualization tool Viewshare, created by the Library of Congress. I’m happy to announce the launch of Dr. Stephanie Evans’ “SWAG Diplomacy,” a project I helped her build in Viewshare.
SWAG Diplomacy, as described by Dr. Evans, “maps locations of 200 African American autobiographers who wrote international travel memoirs.” You can click on any country and see all the famous African Americans who wrote about traveling to that place. You can click on a person and discover the places they traveled. You get a sense of the amazing places that Black folks have been and the cross-pollination of cultures throughout the Diaspora. Students can “Start with a guide” and learn more about these prominent historical figures and hopefully be inspired in the process.
Dr. Evans specifically designed a project that would be free and open to the public with the expressed intent of having it used in K-12 classrooms as part of a multi-pronged curriculum. She even made sure that it met the Georgia public school curriculum requirements and consulted other teachers along the way. This is the kind of academic work I want to produce. As we think about how to address the crisis in U.S. public schools, I wonder how projects like this can be a model. How can we create more collaborative spaces across the various levels of educational institutions? I am very proud to have been a part of a project that integrates theory and practice so well.
After completing the project, the fine folks at the Library of Congress were interested in how we created our map. Dr. Evans and I were interviewed about the project and you can read the interview in full at The Signal, The Library of Congress’s blog. It’s work like this that gets me excited about the possibilities of the academy. I got to collaborate with Dr. Evans, fellow Crunk Feminist and Women’s Studies colleague Whitney Peoples, and create a map that has application beyond colleges and universities. This is scholarship!
What projects are you excited about and what’s on your radar as a cool innovative tool for the work you are doing in the world?