The Sustainability History Project (SHP) is an initiative to document a variety of sustainable business and cultural practices in the Pacific Northwest. This documentation is being done primarily through the medium of recorded oral history interviews, which will soon be made available through this website.
All work on the SHP thus far has been done as the focus of a a number of undergraduate Senior Capstone courses (see also this link)through the School of Business Administration at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon. As of Spring 2010, these Capstone courses have been titled “Documenting Sustainability in the Pacific Northwest.” The content of the project focuses on the Portland metropolitan area, but will be expanding to include practices throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The primary community partner for this ongoing project is the Northwest History Network, a non-profit consortium of regional history, archives, library, and other professionals. As the specific focus of documentation changes each quarter, the SHP also establishes working relationships with businesses, organizations, and individuals to secure interviews and provide service opportunities for students.
Students in the course learn first about the history and contemporary meanings of “sustainability” and how sustainable practices can be measured. Next, students learn about and practice oral history interviewing techniques. Intertwined in all of this is ongoing expansion of knowledge about the business or cultural practice that students focus on during the academic quarter. During the final few weeks of the quarter, students apply the knowledge and skills they have gained by scheduling and conducting a recorded interview, completing community service hours, and writing essays, response papers, and reflections.
There are four primary components of the course, identified below. Students are highly encouragedbut not requiredto correlate these components to optimize efficiency and enhance each individual component.
- Oral History
- This course is built around gathering an oral history interview. This process involves, first, learning about the fundamentals of oral history; second, researching the subject of the oral history; and third, conducting the oral history interview. (More about oral history methods & philosophy here.)
- Students will be required to complete at least five hours of volunteer service during the quarter, unless prior arrangements have been made with instructor. Ideally, this service will be with the organization that the student is concentrating on for the oral history interview, but final choice for the focus of the service component will be left up to the student, with the approval of the instructor. (More on community service here.)
Group Work & Participation
- Students will work collaboratively within groups to help one another in their research. Students are encouraged to collaborate on writing their essays and formulating interview questions within and beyond their group, but grades for all assignments will be based on individual work. Participation in this course also includes contributions to online discussion at the Sustainability History Project Website: https://sustainabilityhistory.org/.
- The essay component of this course is composed of two stages. The first stage will be a 4-6 page version. Students will then enhance and expand this version over the course of the quarter to produce a more refined 6-8 page essay. The essay is composed of three components:
- 1) Choosing a topic to analyzesuch as a practice, technique, project, or organization;
2) Articulating a specific definition of “sustainability” OR a specific definition of one or more aspects of “sustainability”this is the “lens”;
3) Looking at the topic through the “lens”: Specify to readers the ways in which the practices, techniques, projects, organization, etc., chosen in Step #1 achieves, supports, falls short of, and/or is in contradiction to, the definition of sustainability from Step #2.
Below are some of the business and cultural practices that SHP contributors have been engaged in. For a complete list of contributors, see Contributors to the SHP.
- ** Ranching
** Death Care
** Agriculture / Urban Farming / Community Gardening / Regional Food Systems
** Health Care
I live in Portland, Oregon, and am an historian of the 20th century urban environment in North America. I am currently an instructor at Portland State University and Editorial Coordinator for the Oregon Encyclopedia.
I earned his Master of Arts in History from Portland State University in 2009. My thesis is titled “Working for the ‘Working River’: Willamette River Pollution, 1926-1962,” and I’m in the process of turning this into a book. While in graduate school, I served two years as a Caroline P. Stoel Editorial Fellow on the staff of the Pacific Historical Review.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts at Fairhaven College, Bellingham, Washington, in 2004. My interdisciplinary major at Fairhaven incorporated history, writing, and photography. My major projects at Fairhaven College were the Bellingham Centennial Oral History Project and an article published in the Centennial Edition (April 2004) of the Journal of the Whatcom County Historical Society, “‘Pushing Forward with the Determination of the Machine Age’: Interstate 5 is Built through Bellingham, Washington, 1945-1966” [p. 10 of this PDF].
To contact James V. Hillegas:
- jvhillegas AT gmail DOT com
- PO Box 454, Portland, OR 97207
James V. Hillegas, Aug. 5, 2010
This page has the following sub pages.