“Ecuador Participation [World’s Fair, NYC 1939] – Mural” New York Public Library Digital Collections.
What is it?
This is a collective of scholar-teachers who share their expertise and research on Latin America, the Caribbean, the Atlantic World, and the hemisphere in online/ digital formats specifically for use in university courses taught by other Collective members. The ethos of the community is a commitment to the educational depth, richness, and inspiration generated when students are exposed to real, live scholars and the new knowledge they actively produce about the past and the hemisphere’s cultures.
All Collective members are both producers and users of the community’s resources. These include short video presentations on discrete topics, curated historical sources or scholarly studies, creative assignments, and a range of other artifacts including timelines and maps that work well in an online format. Our expertise and the topics of our teaching artifacts range wide: radio, health and disease, smuggling, the trade and human consequence of the enslavement of African peoples, Spanish royal dynasties, what 19th-century national maps really depict, tango and Yiddish folk songs about Argentine farming communities, how ordinary people used law under Spanish rule, populism, earthquakes and politics, labor organizing, and more.
The artifacts that Collective members produce are intended for use only in the courses taught by Collective members, and are to be used only as the Collective member-instructor intends.
Collective members surveyed the Covid-19 crisis in Spring 2020, which forced almost all university classes online, and contemplated the decades-long swelling demand in many universities to integrate new technology and distance learning. Stepping out of the cacophony of advice or manifestos that the crisis generated, we turned to each other to set priorities as we adopt or expand teaching with new technologies.
- Our intent is to actively preserve the power of scholarly community and to spark student inspiration when professional research is integrated into learning and teaching, whatever epidemiological or educational crises we face.
- In our small way, we are catapulting over walls separating academic institutions and defying the atomization that results when educational programs are run from an ethos of competition. In a sense, every student who benefits from a CHACRA scholar’s work has joined a single, shared scholarly community that transcends their university, city and country.
 For the tendency to separate scholars who produce disciplinary research from other instructors, who more often fill the cadre of online instructorships, see Lee Skallerup Bessette, “Can You Teach a ‘Transformative’ Humanities Course Online?,” Chronicle of Higher Ed (7-9 20)