CSULA Public History Project

Public History Project

Mark Wild, History Professor at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)
and a Museum of Social Justice advisory board member, brings his senior seminar
class to the Museum of Social Justice to explore the civic role of history in nonacademic
settings.  The course, “Public History and Community Engagement,” is a capstone of
the undergraduate history major at CSULA.  At the end of the program, students
apply the skills they have learned to address the role of public history in civic life and
the engagement of community participants in historical projects outside the classroom.
Like all students at CSULA, these students represent a wide variety of Los Angeles’
cultural communities and reflect their diverse set of experiences and perspectives in
their work.  The students learn about the long history of La Plaza United Methodist
Church, the history of their surrounding neighborhood, and the ways, in which the
Museum and other nearby institutions use history to promote community empowerment
and social justice.  They pay particular attention to the processes on how institutions
like the Museum emerged, and the skills required to make them work.  A key feature
of the course is the intensive individual interviews with key personnel involved in the
Museum.  Based on this work, students devise proposals for public history projects
addressing the complex history of Los Angeles; they share these proposals with the
Museum as it develops its own programming for future exhibitions.


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