In Spring 2018, the Critical Issues Project Fund was themed around “Migration & Mobility”. The HPG Initiative funded projects which aim to connect circulating people, ideas, and technologies with resources, information, and allies. Project teams connect humanities faculty at UNC with at least one partner working elsewhere on the campus, and one partner whose work and sphere is centered beyond the campus. Project funding amounts averaged $10,000 in this cycle, for projects which expect to be implemented in academic year 2018-19.

The awarded projects for this cycle are:

A Red Record


Collaborators: Elijah Gaddis, Brian Gibbs, Seth Kotch, & Christie Norris

Initially driven by original, digital research and analysis by undergraduate students, A Red Record is a cartographic representation of historic lynchings in the Carolinas. This Critical Issues Project expands and develops A Red Record’s contribution to pressing public conversations about race, violence, and power through aesthetic reimagination, contributions from historians, expansion of the project’s scope to include the entire former Confederacy, and inclusion of lesson plans and training modules for high school teachers. Carolina K12 and School of Education faculty will collaborate to help teachers bring this essential history into 11th and 12th grade classrooms. Phase I of A Red Record used open-source, open-access software to empower student research on lynching events in North and South Carolina. Phase II, while allowing for future undergraduate contributions, moves A Red Record beyond the Carolina classroom and into the public realm, combining the intellectual energies of teachers, education scholars, historians, and software engineers to create a digital resource hub that explores a history crucial to the story of migration and mobility inside and outside the American South before World War II. A Red Record proceeds with the awareness that lynch mobs and their allies used modern technologies—hand-held cameras, postcards, audio recordings, newspapers, automobiles—to accomplish their task and spread its trauma. Lynching’s terror was mobile, and its pervasive threat propelled a whole generation of African American migrants. In turn, this project uses its own contemporary technologies to redistribute these stories in the spirit of reconciliation, understanding, and critical examination of a still-understudied history.



Migration Stories: Linguistics and Belonging among Refugees from Burma


Collaborators: Becky Butler, Jennifer Griffin, Josh Hinson, Morgan Pitelka, Amy Reynolds, Rachel Seidman, Thadah Wah

More than 1,000 refugees from Burma live in the Triangle, migrants who relocated here as part of a U.N. resettlement program first instituted in 2005. Although often referred to as Burmese, this diverse group in fact includes a range of populations who speak different Southeast Asian languages depending on their family histories and migration patterns. Numerous local organizations have worked to support refugees’ adaptation to life in North Carolina, but many community needs remain, including improved access to and use of resources for physical and mental wellbeing. This project aims to amplify the voices of the diverse population of refugees from Burma based in the Triangle. Our interdisciplinary team of community leaders, historians, linguists, and social work professionals will collect and preserve oral histories and from the community, with special attention to past and present community needs. In the process, we will develop an ethical and empowering digital toolkit for the community—and other refugee communities around the country—to continue the work of collecting and preserving the voices of their friends and family members. The project interweaves the work of two campus projects. First is Southern Mix, a collaborative effort to collect oral histories from Asian and Asian American residents of the South, run by the Carolina Asia Center and the Southern Oral History Program. Second is the Burma Refugee Working Group, hosted by the Carolina Asia Center and including faculty from Asian Studies, Linguistics, and Social Work, as well as graduate students from Linguistics and refugee community members, connected to the team in part by the Transplanting Traditions community farm in Carrboro, NC.




Collaborators: Dominique Dery, Jeanine DeLay, Steven Swartzer

The NHSEB BRIDGES Project aims to develop online tools and resources that facilitate knowledge-sharing and community-building interactions among the thousands of people involved in the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) program nationwide. NHSEB is a remarkable youth program that uses friendly competition to promote respectful, supportive, and in-depth discussion of ethics. Modeled on the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, NHSEB hosts a series of competitions where teams engage in structured conversation that requires clear argumentation, examination of moral issues, and consideration of multiple viewpoints. With this program, there is tremendous potential for building a national community of ethically-engaged young people and educators. NHSEB BRIDGES seeks to help connect NHSEB students in different geographic regions in order to increase opportunities for civil and collegial conversations by establishing web-based discussion forum. This forum will facilitate information-sharing and collaboration among regional partners, and between regional organizers and teams. By helping to build bridges between high school teachers from a wide variety of institutions, this project will also increase access to high quality ethics-related educational materials, such as cases to be used in NHSEB competitions, and model case analyses. These materials would help broaden the range of interests and voices represented. Finally, this program seeks to foster the sharing of specialized ethics knowledge between universities and the broader public. By providing a set of high quality cases and model analyses, this project increases teacher and student access to ethics subject-matter expertise currently housed within elite university philosophy departments. This project’s collaborative team are affiliated with UNC’s Parr Center for Ethics and A2Ethics, a non-profit organization promoting public philosophy and ethical reasoning.


Stories to Save Lives: Using Oral History to Improve Health and Medical Care in North Carolina


Collaborators: Biff Hollingsworth, William Kearney, Ritchie Kendall, Meg Landfried, Rachel Seidman, Sara Wood

This project seeks to bring the powerful research methodology of oral history to bear on one of the critical issues facing our state: healthcare. Patterns of mobility and migration deeply shape North Carolina residents’ access to medical resources, their treatment at the hands of medical professionals, and their ability to engage effectively in their own health promotion. We know that health outcomes vary across the state, by race, ethnicity, class, gender, and region, but our quantitative measures cannot always explain why. In order to develop more effective interventions to save and improve lives, health care professionals need access to residents’ insights into their own beliefs about health and health care challenges in their communities. Using digital tools to share these stories may profoundly reshape how policy makers and health care professionals approach these issues. The Stories to Save Lives project will undertake a pilot research study during the summer of 2018, gathering 40 in-depth oral history interviews focused on attitudes and beliefs about the health care system, and on community members’ own analyses of why health care challenges exist in their communities and how that has changed over time. These interviews will be archived at Wilson Library and made available to researchers worldwide. Students and community partners will collaborate to design and implement public digital projects based on research outcomes and on the needs of partner organizations. This project will provide valuable experience to the students who undertake the work, and crucial information to future researchers, practitioners, and community members.


UNC Migration Seminar*


Collaborators: Rubi Franco Quiroz, Ricky Hurtado, Todd Ochoa, Barbara Sostaita, Angela Stuesse

*project information pending