Projects and Courses

Digital Mapping Project & Presentation

Dr. Takkara Brunson (California State University, Fresno)

Students will generate their own topic on Black/African experiences on the continent or in the diaspora, and map major locations using StoryMaps.

Project Goals

  • Develop an original research project on Black/African experience on the continent or in the diaspora, focusing on issues of religion, gender, ethnic identity, precolonial or post-colonial society, politics music, or the visual arts
  • Map at least 7 locations related to the topic using StoryMaps
  • Make an argument about the topic to support the thesis
  • Make a traditional oral presentation of topic
  • Create a poster presentation of the map showing how it supports the thesis

Students draw on major themes from the course African Cultural Perspectives to identify and map the major issues, sites, and topics which speak to their own interests and thesis. The project incorporates StoryMap JS, allowing students to not only create a textual description of their topic, but visualize it by mapping the major locations and events which provide cultural context.

Outcomes & Deliverables

As the final project, students will create a StoryMap with a minimum of 7 locations, a poster which displays the map along with relevant descriptions and information, and share these products through a traditional oral presentation.


Digital Mapping Assignment

Read the full assignment description from Dr. Brunson’s African Cultural Perspectives course

Mapping & Timelines

Explore more digital mapping tools that can facilitate student creation of visual projects

Institute Reflection

Dr. Brunson summarizes her experience at the institute

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Takkara Brunson

Dr. Takkara Brunson (Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, California State University, Fresno) describes how her institute experience provided her with digital mapping skills which she has since incorporated into her university courses.

The Caribbean Studies Digital Humanities Institute provided a rigorous introduction to the various digital platforms available for studying the region. Since the institute, I have incorporated map building into my African cultural perspectives course at California State University, Fresno. The course focuses broadly on the histories and cultures of the African Diaspora. We devote substantial attention to examining the Caribbean as part of the diaspora–notably, through units on slavery, cultural formations, and global political movements. During the fall 2019 semester, I incorporated a new assignment in which students were required to build a digital map on a topic of their choice. Students enthusiastically created maps that examined the spread of the Garvey Movement, Black Power in the Caribbean, and reggaeton music, among other topics. Having discussed what such an assignment might look like with other attendees during the institute, I integrated mapping assignments into class exercises throughout the semester; I made sure to allocate class time to building the maps. This resulted in one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in leading students through research projects.

In addition to meeting scholars from across the U.S. and Caribbean, I appreciated the opportunity to learn about existing projects that demonstrated the potential of the digital humanities for connecting with public audiences. I spent years imagining ways to present my research on Black women in pre-revolutionary Cuba through a publicly accessible digital map. I now have the tools to do so.