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Reflection: Jose Vazquez

Jose Vazquez (Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Interior Design, Miami Dade College) shares how the institute helped him incorporate digital humanities tools into his courses on history of architecture, as well as supported the completion of several grants which will allow him to continue engaging digital methods through fieldwork in the Miami area.


“In applying for the ODH NEH institute Caribbean Studies and Digital Humanities I was looking to strengthen my curriculum by learning about the Digital Humanities and its pedagogical applications in a Higher Education classroom. Indeed, the experience gained through the institute’s lectures, lessons, and my interactions with institute’s colleagues was transformational as it subsequently helped me fashioning a series of grants and teaching proposals after the conclusion of the institute.

The first entailed the development of a Fulbright Scholar teaching proposal entitled American Architecture and its Silenced stories (see attached syllabus). The course is intended to examine the history of American architecture to foster an understanding of United States contemporary cultural landscapes. Accordingly, United States’ built heritage will serve as a lens to analyze an assortment of landscapes, ranging from domestic to capitalist environments, and reflect on their impact in fashioning American identity. I am pleased to report that I was awarded the 2020-21 Fulbright Garcia Robles U.S. Studies Chair grant to teach this course at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico during the spring 2021.

My second project, Building Stories Documenting Miami’s Vernacular Architecture and Cultural Landscapes also incorporated DH as a central pedagogical component and was the recipient of this year M.D.C. President’s Innovation Fund award. This fieldwork project aims to document through digital media, oral histories, and building surveys, the historic community of West Village, a pioneering Bahamian immigrant settlement in Coconut Grove. The project will include the development of various community activities and an online exhibition in partnership with the Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund. The TRGMF is interested in preserving historic documents belonging to aging community members to help preserve an historical record that otherwise could be lost. Among the main priorities of the Building Stories project will be training our students to conduct oral interviews and digitalize material that can be used by local community members and historians. This project is intended to familiarize my students with action-based research and to provide training in Virtual Reality (VR) technology as a documentation strategy.

I am deeply indebted to the institute directors and its faculty for a learning experience that allowed me to reimagine my pedagogy and in doing so redefined the boundaries of my classroom.”

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