Student Engagement

Our students are an integral and important part of the project for two reasons: (1) From the project perspective, because FIU draws most of its students from the local South Florida region, they often have immediate personal and family links to their communities and will provide next-generation research, communication, and context “reality checks” for the project team; and (2) From their own intellectual and career development perspectives, being integrally involved in the project will increase their awareness and appreciation of the role of higher education in improving communities, and―hopefully―“fire them up” to continue and deepen their programs of study.

Student Engagement Podcast

The ‘Commons for Justice’ Podcast, aims to engage the community-campus in complex and sometimes challenging, discussions about the ever-evolving stories of ‘The Past, Present, and Future of ‘Race, Risk, and Resilience’ in coastal communities. Hence, this Podcast sets out to transform academic jargon into an easily digestible form by addressing contemporary topics in a conversational manner by engendering a dynamic, fluid, and stimulating space where diverse, dedicated, and multidisciplinary minds converge to share perspectives on identifying and addressing pre-disaster vulnerabilities and post-disaster resilience in the Greater Miami area.

Course Modules

In the summer of 2022 Professor Claudia Sofía Garriga-López taught a graduate course titled “Transfeminist Puerto Rico,” which was cross listed under readings in American History and Latin American History. The focus of the course was on Puerto Rican history with particular attention to gender and sexual politics, colonialism, racism, climate change, disaster preparedness and recovery, austerity policies, as well as sociocultural determinants of health. Most of the books and articles assigned in the syllabus were recent publications, which ensured that students gained a strong understanding of contemporary trends and emerging scholars in Puerto Rican Studies. The online and asynchronous structure of the course enabled Professor Garriga-López to pre-record interviews with many of the authors featured in the syllabus, such as Susan Stryker, Juliana Martínez, Laura Briggs, Justin Leroy, Jorell A Meléndez-Badillo, Johanna Fernández, Iris Morales, Daniel Royles, René Esparza, Alexa Dietrich, Marisol Lebrón, and Maritza Stanchich. These pre-recorded interviews provided an opportunity to identify the points of connection between the history described in the assigned texts and the later emergence of transfeminism in Puerto Rico, the United States, and Latin America.

The first module of the semester offered an introduction to Transgender Studies and Latin American transfeminism. Students read the recently published second edition of Transgender History by Susan Stryker, an encyclopedic definition of transfeminism authored by Professor Garriga-López, as well as a report on the present state of transfeminism in Latin America authored by the Sentido research collective. From there the course turned to the history of Puerto Rico, spanning from the United States colonial takeover of Puerto Rico in 1898, to governance and public health policies of the 1910s and 1920s, labor movements of the 1930s, development projects beginning in the 1940s, the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United states starting in the 1950s, Puerto Rican social movements in the United States of the 1960s, sterilization and contraceptive abuse in towards Puerto Rican women from the 1940s up to the 1970s, Puerto Rican and African American AIDS and LGBT activism from the 1980s onward, the growth of policing and incarceration rates in the 1990’s, the impact of austerity politics on education from the 2000s to the present, student activism in the 2010s, the impact of hurricane María in 2017 on Black Puerto Rican communities in particular and attention to disaster response and recovery in general, social determinants of health over the past twenty years, and ending with a module on the historic mass protests of 2019 that led to the resignation of then governor Ricardo Rossello. Throughout the semester, the course explored how social movements of the past established a precedent for the rise of transfeminism in Puerto Rico in recent years.

FIU Staff and Students collaborating on paper

The main assignment for this course was an oral history project. Students were prompted to identify their own research interests and to seek out interviews with people that could speak to those issues. Professor Garriga-López guided students through the process of creating a research proposal, identifying who interview, establishing trust with their interviewee, drafting a consent form, drafting interview questions, developing interview techniques and understanding technical components of recording an interview, the process of transcribing interviews and identifying their most important sections, how to create and revise an analysis based on one’s original research, and identifying the key terms of their analysis. Each step of the project was designed to help students to develop a project with all the necessary components to become a scholarly publication.