Faculty CSL & Research/Scholarship Spotlights - College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Reflections from the Fall 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: Senior Design Projects - Students Complete Summer Session with Success 

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 benefited 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 principals in an effective and meaningful way.

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 study.

That is, students get to go behind-the-scenes in these archives, working alongside archivists and museum workers to see how materials are donated, catalogued, 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 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 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.