College of Liberal & Creative Arts

SHINE On: Students' passion continues to drive Project SHINE

May 3, 2022

Project SHINE has changed a lot since it was founded in the early 1990s. What was once a national project of cross-campus collaborations is now “fragmented,” says Maricel G. Santos, professor of English and faculty advisor to Project SHINE. Speaking to SF State’s Under SF in 2017, Santos noted that although the project has “reshaped its identity,” it has maintained its “integrity and purpose.”

Listening to Project SHINE’s student leaders this semester, its integrity and purpose are still alive and well in 2022. Founded in 1995 by Gail Weinstein, Professor of English, Project SHINE is officially a student-run organization through Associated Students. However, it has a long history at SF State. Project SHINE started as a CSL project within the graduate program in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) in the English Department from 1995-2011. Currently, SF State students volunteer as “coaches” in English Second Language, literacy, citizenship, and computer classes at City College of San Francisco. Throughout their service placements, coaches and Project SHINE leaders engage in reflection activities regarding pedagogy, problem-solving, and what they are learning through their service placements.

Charlie Mejia, president of Project SHINE, says that his main task is to keep things organized so that the team can work together effectively. “The passion of the TESOL world” is a key strength of the project, he says. That is echoed by Natalia Malheiros De Carvalho Monteiro, who joined the project last year and is currently a master’s degree candidate in TESOL. She says that Project SHINE’s coaches are driven by a “passion to help in the best way we can.”

That passion was essential when the covid-19 pandemic hit, requiring a rapid shift to remote operations. The struggle to teach remotely was “humbling,” says Maricel. In addition to the teaching challenges faced by the coaches and professors, many CCSF students had little to no internet access. Nevertheless, the Project SHINE leaders figured it out. One notable challenge was figuring out how to replicate the “one-on-one dialogues” fundamental to TESOL courses, says Charlie. To do this he created SHINE Chats, which CCSF students have used as an informal space to practice speaking English.

As more courses at SF State resume in-person service-learning activities, Project SHINE is hoping more SF State student students will join its team. Charlie and Natalia say that any experience, any field of study, are welcome. All that is required is the passion to teach and help others.

Reflections from the Fall 2019 ICCE Faculty Fellow

by Dr. Mariana K. Leal Ferreira, College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Getting people together to “revolutionize education” is not that easy. I've known that for a while, as persistent as I am, having taught Community Service Learning courses at SF State for 15 years. Young people today crave for social change, and it is our job as educators to make that happen. So how to get students, faculty, and staff on campus dedicated to civic learning, activism, and social responsibility? And in the process, reflect on identity, leadership and hone their communication skills?

CSL is the way to go forward, engaging students, faculty, staff, and the local SF Bay community to fight for social justice. This fall, as an ICCE Faculty Fellow, I organized and convened a group of committed individuals in the Humanities Symposium Room, where, on Nov. 19, we commemorated 15 years of Victories. Yes, with a capital V! And, it was a commemoration indeed, as valued testimony was included by CSL veterans–alumni, graduate students, faculty emeriti, lecturers, academic advisors, and community members. 

CSL is the way to go forward, engaging students, faculty, staff, and the local SF Bay community to fight for social justice. This fall, as an ICCE Faculty Fellow, I organized and convened a group of committed individuals in the Humanities Symposium Room, where, on Nov. 19, we commemorated 15 years of Victories. Yes, with a capital V! And, it was a commemoration indeed, as valued testimony was included by CSL veterans–alumni, graduate students, faculty emeriti, lecturers, academic advisors, and community members. 

Together, since 2004, we have organized 10 annual SF State Human Rights Summits (2004-2013), Youth Summits, street theatre performances, painted Right to Good Health murals (with NIH funding), partnered with the Mission Neighborhood Health Center (writing storytelling cookbooks, educational brochures, and zines for teenagers), published peer-reviewed articles, set up hands-on mathematics exhibits, and much more. And now, my CSL classes in Human Rights Education are online. Students engage with communities for their final service-learning projects by teaching about human rights issues that affect their communities. Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, as our line of inquiry, bring theory and practice together. It works. 

DES 505

DES 505: Senior Design Projects - Students Complete Summer Session with Success 

Summer 2019

This summer DES 505, Research & Development Laboratory, 16 students completed their senior projects. Professor Ricardo Gomes, Professor & Coordinator Design Center for Global Needs/Shapira Design Archive, School of Design, provided outstanding leadership once again!  Then on Aug 15th Dr. Gomes and his class provided the opportunity for faculty, students, community partners, and guests to meet students and learn about their projects.  That final public presentation was conducted as an informal reception and poster presentation of the students’ respective research projects. Accompanying their poster session, they also presented their Research Report and Proof-of-Concept prototypes, or articles. Many of the designated CSL-related Senior Degree Projects address the “Social Impact of Design” in meeting the needs of Bay Area community organizations, development agencies, or entrepreneurial “DIY” (Do-It-Yourself) small businesses.   As noted by Dr. Gomes, “I am very pleased with the overall consistency of quality, parity, and execution of the 505 Projects developed in an intensive 8-week summer timeframe.” Additionally, thanks to Logan Evasco and Design It Forward for showcasing her involvement with DES 505 students via “Highlight: Summer Design Researchers.”

Students benefit by learning how to develop creative, practical solutions that satisfy the needs of real-world clients through project-based, collaborative learning experiences. Through this direct experience, students discovered how design can make a positive contribution to the community and social development. Click here for a series of session photographs. While the entire class did a great job, Dr. Gomes declares that several students “optimized collaborative community outreach, engagement, and overall inclusive user and environmental effectiveness. Much of that distinction and difference was attributed to the critical community engagement, feedback, iterations, and refinement that was associated with their respective overall project development, execution, and implementation.” Those projects, in no particular order, include:   


Producing with a Purpose: Bridging an Advanced TV Production Course with Community Service Learning  

What better way to enhance students’ academic learning and acquire career-related skills than by fostering opportunities that will help make connections between our universities and the communities in which they thrive? Through redesigning and implementing an advanced TV production course into a community service-learning experience, Dr. Oscar Guerra Nunez, educator, producer, researcher, and Assistant Professor in the BECA department facilitated students strengthening their production skills while engaging in meaningful and socially aware media environments.

It’s inevitable when living and working in a city so rich in diversity, culture, and language that students will intertwine with a multitude of people from different walks of life. By strengthening community engagement and service-learning, educators strengthen their students’ academic application and their real-life practice, while they gain a sense of belonging, civic responsibility and awareness. Dr. Guerra redesigned his Advanced TV Production course so students could gain professional-type experiences in television studio production and receive community service-learning credit from SF State by producing a weekly magazine TV show (8 episodes) dedicated to showcasing and assisting organizations that serve the local community.

At the beginning of the semester, students worked in four groups consisting of 5-6 people each as a “staff” production team including producer, director, writer, production assistant, field production director, and editor. Each group produced two episodes during the semester and used their other classmates as their production staff. Additionally, these CSL projects involved local artists. That is, groups chose a local institution or organization that is an ICCE community partner. If the group wished to work with an organization that was not an officially designated ICCE partner, they were encouraged to facilitate the pathways to create that partnership. The group coordinated and attended two events to support their chosen institution where they not only provided the service but also recorded the activities and produced two, 3 to 5-minute audiovisual packages with interviews and b-roll. Both packages were shown during the live TV show episode and were distributed on local Comcast channels. The episodes were composed of three different blocks that included: 1) introduction to the show and the institution’s history, 2) an interview or panel with special guest(s), and 3) a performance or demonstration and outro. To ensure the project had a significant impact on the community, students relied on organizational leaders to provide a needs assessment and background on the issues their specific community faced.

In many cases, community members played an important role as co-educators for these BECA students, sharing their knowledge of complex social issues and offering mentorship. In past episodes, students interviewed struggling artists from street performers, muralists, and hip-hop recorders to members of the LGQBT community and social activists (e.g., against neighborhood displacement due to gentrification).  The feedback Dr. Guerra received from his students suggested that this course had a measurable impact on their development and transition into the professional world as expressed by course evaluations and student comments. Examples of student feedback included:

  • Best experience I've had in school. I would recommend this class to any serious student.

  • This is the most "hands-on" class I have ever experienced. And that's what it is. It isn't just a class it was an experience.

  • I just wanted to thank you for your guidance last semester. Without your critique, I wouldn't have been able to create this piece.

He also received positive reviews from the community as evident by their feedback and gratitude. Excerpts from letters to students from those they featured in their projects include:

  • What a lot of work you put into this episode! Thanks for using our music so well and helping to tell the stories of people making art in SF.

  • Thank you!!!! The program/work is AWESOME - well done!!!! Love the diversity in the selection of voices - love the beautiful quality of filming, the interviews, the editing is excellent - super professional and relevant. You all ROCK! Thank you for doing justice to this timely subject! The hosts were great too - please pass on our gratitude to them and the rest of your team as well. Would love to stay in touch about other future projects you all are working on and possible collaborations!

  • Thank you so much for creating a video for our organization. This means a lot for us. We would like to post this on our FB and website news page.

Dr. Guerra is confident that through bridging his Advance TV Production class with community service learning, he has been able to enrich his students’ holistic academic experience. Through combining academics in the classroom with knowledge and application of local community members, he has contributed to the interpersonal and intrapersonal growth of his students as members of both the media workforce and society.  Congratulations to Dr. Guerra who taught his students audiovisual concepts and principles in an effective and meaningful way.

HIST 405

CSL Faculty Highlight:  HIST 405 students use modern skills to support the maintenance of maritime historical records and archives

HIST 405: Maritime History aims to reposition the study of history away from a continent-based approach and toward an ocean-centered one. Taught by Dr. Sarah Crabtree, a professor in the Department of History (College of Liberal and Creative Arts), students are asked to forego traditional understandings of history (national boundaries, for example) and instead to apply new methodologies (like history as movement and history of nature). In this course, the entire class visits three archives over the course of the semester that allows students to see, touch, and analyze sixteenth-century maps of the ocean, nineteenth-century whale ship logbooks, and twentieth-century newspapers printed the day after 1934’s “Bloody Thursday,” (known as “the strike that shook San Francisco and rocked the pacific coast.” The CSL experience invites students to go even one step further in their studies.

That is, students, get to go behind-the-scenes in these archives, working alongside archivists and museum workers to see how materials are donated, cataloged, displayed, and preserved.  This process exposes students to, and involves them in, important conversations about whose history–whose voices, experiences, and communities–are preserved, shared and amplified.  These insights are profoundly valuable not only to their understanding of history classes but in fact how history impacts present and future policy.

The CSL component of the course also involves students in thinking about the skills they have to offer these institutions. Last fall, 2018, Dr. Crabtree reported that her CSL students worked with the fantastic staff at the SF Maritime National Historical Park at Hyde Street Pier, specifically their Maritime Research Center, and the California Historical Society.  She also placed students at the Sutro Library, one of the most important repositories of rare books in the world, right here on the SF State campus! Her CSL students had the opportunity to organize digital collections, learn and tutor others on new software programming, collaborate on social media outreach, staff volunteer events, and author short pieces for publication.  

These “Gen Z" students brought valuable skills and insights to these organizations as well as provided crucial contributions of time and energy to staff already stretched so thin.  In this way, the bridge between SF State and these institutions not only benefits our students but also showcases another layer of the importance of SF State to the city of San Francisco.

CSL encourages students to take advantage of the rare, world-class resources available in their city and even on their campus.  SF State students have unparalleled opportunities to get hands-on experience working in some of the most important and most unique archives and museums across the U.S.  These historical sites are staffed with experts and leaders in their field who are eager to make connections with our students and introduce them to potential internships and job opportunities.  

Tough calls, people-first, & listening: Daniel Bernardi & Veterans Documentary Corps

October 21, 2022

For most Americans war is distant from day-to-day life, be it geographically or in the space of time. The films and series by Veterans Documentary Corps show that, to the contrary, every war is close to home.

“When a democracy is divorced from wars, you have more wars,” said Daniel Bernardi, professor in the School of Cinema and president and filmmaker in the Veterans Documentary Corps (VDC). What VDC does to change that “is make people think, through the creative force of film, about the people” behind those wars. ICCE got to talk with Bernardi about the teamwork, leadership and more involved in this endeavor.

Teamwork has been an essential component in Bernardi’s directing with VDC. “We have amazing filmmakers,” he said, “and when you work with them you grow.” Every person is the ‘leader’ at what they do, so “I tell them what I want, not how to get there.” Bernardi’s 25 years of experience in the Navy Reserve contribute to this perspective. For instance, when deployed in Iraq alongside Army Special Forces, he quickly realized that all of those soldiers were “alpha” mentality. Still, they were an effective team because each member was trusted to do their respective role. Bernardi applies this in working with VDC: regardless of gender, everyone is ‘apha’ at what they do, so he lets them do it.

That is part of what Bernardi considers the qualities of the best leaders: “make tough decisions, put people first, and listen.” It is also exemplified in the VDC motto: “best idea wins,” regardless of who suggested it. “It always makes the film better,” said Bernardi.

Another example is Bernardi’s current in-production film about a veteran. The veteran’s story has tragedy and trauma, and her surviving family do not support it being released. Bernardi is ready to walk away, and the film’s grantors are not happy to hear it. A film left unreleased would be considered a failure by most in the industry, but Bernardi has a different perspective: “What I have to watch is my ego, and my ethics… I’m not involved in trying to hurt [people].” His advice is “don’t be afraid of failure,” especially in the pursuit of social justice: “If you’re gonna do good for people, you gotta be willing to be unpopular.”

Throughout our conversation, Bernardi was quick to mention the credit due to his team at VDC and the SF State community. “I surround myself with people just as dedicated and definitely more talented,” said Bernardi. The success of his films have “all been because of other people”: the team at VDC; faculty colleagues providing feedback; staff at the Office of Research & Special Programs making sure his classes are covered during filming; students working with him as interns; and the university deans overseeing the coordination of it all. “The truth is my role… is a facilitator bringing together really talented people.”

Your correspondent’s weekend plans? Grab a bag of popcorn and watch films made possible by that talented team.

To watch films by VDC, go to


Women. Life. Freedom”: faculty host insightful teach-in about current events in Iran

October 24, 2022

The murder of Mahsa Jina Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, by Iran’s “morality police” has sparked massive protests and outrage by citizens. Multiple times over the past decade Iran has experienced protests against the status quo. What is different about this present movement against female oppression? A panel at SF State weighed in on this and more on October 7.

Organized by the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, last week’s online teach-in comprised of five SF State faculty and students (in alphabetical order):


Maziar Behrooz, associate professor of History

Hasti, graduate student from Iran

Persis Karim, chair & director, Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies

Blanca Missé, associate professor of French Language & Literature

Mahmood Monshipouri, professor of International Relations


Panel moderator Missé said that current events are “sometimes more nuanced than in the media,” so it is important for universities to provide space for discussions which dig deeper than the headlines. Through insightful and interdisciplinary perspectives, the October 7 panel did exactly that.

Hasti opened the discussion with a moving presentation of photographs and sketches to highlight her experiences living in Iran. Referring to the government’s insidious law enforcement methods, Hasti and her female friends learned that “vans come from hell and vans take you to hell.” Still, that did not silence them; “We learned to become creative, learned to be brave” in defiance. Still they fight on, a fight which has a long history and is now at a punctuation.

The present movement is part of what Karim called a “long trajectory” of Iranian women struggling for freedom. For more than 40 years they have been subjected to “constant harassment and humiliation...[and] shaming” through not only the mandatory veil, but every aspect of the law. The current movement is “not really about veiling, it’s about state control” in all of its dimensions. The long struggle has brought many Iranian citizens to a breaking point. Karim recounted the words of a family member among the protesters: “We have tried dialogue… now we are fed up with the humiliation done to us as people.” Karim said that the current movement is “a moment where women in Iran are asking themselves, ‘What kind of future do we have in this country?’” So, as Iranian citizens take to the streets, is this the revolution where they finally get to decide that future?

Predicting the future is a tricky thing, said Behrooz. Rather than attempting a prediction, he is looking at history for clues about what could happen. Citing Lenin’s three conditions for a revolution, Behrooz said that only one is present. “We are not witnessing any sign of cracks in the system… Not yet, at least,” said Behrooz. It is clear that the regime “gave up on the 90 percent of the population” who are against them, instead focusing on the “10 percent who are supporters.”

Problematic is that 10 percent of the population controls all of the resources, said Behrooz: money, weaponry, food supply. All of those will be used to combat the protesters. Key among those resources are the military and weaponry. This is critical for world leaders to consider: “In the midst of this, we must remember the nuclear issue… Any day a nuclear compromise is delayed is a day Iran gets closer to a nuclear weapon.” When deciding their next moves, world leaders must keep in mind this factor.

Monshipouri summed up what recent events indicate about the Iranian government: “The current regime in Iran is morally bankrupt and incapable of reinventing itself.” Protests are happening at shorter and shorter intervals - 2010, 2014, 2017, 2019, 2022 - because the regime “is failing,” and “the next round of protests are just around the corner.” Monshipouri said that we cannot predict the outcome “but these protests promise to be a game-changer.” The current protests, spread across cultures and ethnicities, show a “huge shift in the imagination of the youth.” Their demands “amount to a direct challenge” to 40 years of oppression and an economic situation which has one-third of the Iranian people in poverty.

There is also “a glimmer of hope” that “people’s power, new technology [such as Virtual Private Networks to circumvent government internet surveillance] and stronger demonstrations” can topple power, said Monshipouri. A big part of the “people’s power” is that 54 percent of university graduates in Iran are female: “You don’t educate people and then tell them to not ask for rights.” Similar to Behrooz, Monshipouri offered a critical consideration for world leaders: “Sanctions push Iran more into the arms of China… make it more like North Korea… and strengthen the hardliner camp.”

Amid numerous factors and uncertainties, what can individuals do to help? Admittedly, the options are limited. Supporting international human rights organizations may be the most effective way to contribute, said Karim and Monshipouri. In addition to being neutral and having global standing, Monshipouri said they have “underground networks” which may hopefully affect the situation.

Demonstrations in America will have little to no effect. As Behrooz said, the American and Iranian governments “don’t even sit at the same table to talk with each other,” so protesting to our government is unlikely to help. Additionally, with the Iranian government imposing a media blackout, shows of solidarity here are not seen by Iranian citizens.

“Echoing the voices of people in the streets” in our discussions is a possible way to contribute, said Hasti. A recurring theme in this panel was that Iranian citizens are concerned about having their movement hijacked by external interests. That is part of why it has been leader-less. Though the media blackout means that it will not reach the protesters, echoing their voices in public discussion may help to keep external narratives aligned with the protesters’ interests. Karim said similarly, “Keep the conversation going.” To prevent the movement from being hijacked by political interests or lost in the news cycle, “keep giving voice to the knowledge of experts and activists here.”

While the options to help are limited, you correspondent came away from this teach-in more educated about the context and implications of current protests in Iran. Both make the bravery of Iranian citizens in the streets all the more resounding.

For resources about the protests in Iran, visit this page on the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies website.