The Humanities Truck is an interdisciplinary platform designed to facilitate collaborative community-based research, scholarship, and exhibitions. These collaborations take time and can take many different forms. The Humanities Truck Project Fellowship program provides a year for the Truck Fellows to be able to use the truck to develop these community relationships. Truck Fellows are expected to build a collaborative process that involves community partners in each phase of their projects, from research and documentation, to interpretation, and scholarly creation in the form of accessible exhibitions and performances. Throughout the year, Truck Fellows meet together to reflect upon the effective practices of community-engaged scholarship, and also to share the findings of their own projects.
The Power of Play
Loneliness and social isolation among seniors (ages 65 and older) is a well-documented health disparity in the United States and can often lead to reports of depression and poor ratings of quality of life. Intergenerational playgroups are a way to foster community connectedness and reduce social isolation, loneliness, and ageism by bringing together seniors and families with children who are birth to five years old. Play is universal and provides a commonality between diverse groups of people. The goal of the proposed project is to bring awareness to the lived experiences of DC’s aging community which are often overlooked and go unheard. Additionally, the project will highlight an intergenerational playgroup as an innovative community activity that promotes the health and wellbeing of seniors, as well as build community and reduce ageism among young families
Alison Chrisler is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Health Studies. Dr. Chrisler is a Certified Child Life Specialist with over a decade of experience in community-engaged research and evaluation. Dr. Chrisler’s research and evaluation expertise focuses on working with children, youth, and families that are often overlooked, with a special emphasis on community-based interventions that enhance the wellbeing of community members and reduce health disparities. She is currently a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow developing a measure to capture critical thinking among public health undergraduate student. Additionally, Dr. Chrisler currently serves as the Executive Editor of The Journal of Child Life.
Shannon Clark and Aaron Howe
Shannon Clark and Aaron Howe are both PhD Candidates in the Department of Anthropology and co-founders of the unhoused support collective Remora House, which provides material aid and advocacy for unhoused residents of Washington D.C. Shannon is currently completing her dissertation research on petrochemical manufacturing, regulatory science, and environmental policy in the U.S. Aaron conducted their dissertation research about Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and the management of public space with the unhoused community living in the NoMA neighborhood of D.C., and has published several opinion pieces with the Washington Post and StreetSense advocating for the city’s unhoused communities and for decreasing the power of undemocratic public-private partnerships that drive gentrification. Together, they do weekly supply distributions at unhoused camps around the city, provide material aid to other unhoused outreach and support groups, help neighbors transition into stable housing, and advocate for the right of unhoused people to live in public spaces.
Remnant Reflections: Dress Codes and Hair Policies in DC Schools
Carletta S. Hurt is an educator, producer, and youth advocate. An adjunct professor in the School of Communications, she is passionate about all things Black girls and women. Her award-winning documentary, Clothed Minds, was a catalyst for this project as she works to amplify the voices of Black girls in education and beyond. She also produced NOISE, a short about a young black male teen’s struggle with mental health, and the award-winning short, The Catcher, based on her experiences as a school counselor supporting homeless students.
This Georgia native comes from family of activists, entrepreneurs, and creatives. Her desire to tell stories started when she became a Teen Reporter for her local paper, The Macon Telegraph and News. Since that time she published over three dozen articles and produced nearly two dozen media projects.
A self-proclaimed SUDOKU champion, wordsmith at Scrabble and Words with Friends, she has worked as a teacher, administrator, and currently works as a school counselor in Washington, DC. Hurt is pursuing her doctoral degree and is a mother to the most amazing little person, William.
Jane Palmer has more than a decade of experience working in community-based non-profit organizations with children, youth and adults as a social worker, advocate, community organizer and manager, with an emphasis on the eradication of violence. In addition to her Humanities Truck project with DC Action, she is engaged in community-based research projects with Trans Lifeline and the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. All three projects are grounded in her belief that the people affected by an issue should inform the solutions to that issue. At American University, she is a term associate professor in the School of Public Affairs, the founder of the Community-Based Research Scholars program, and the faculty advisor for the undergraduate certificate in community-based research. She teaches courses on research methods, gender violence, transformative justice, and child & family policy.
Elizabeth Rule is an enrolled citizen in the Chickasaw Nation) and an Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. Rule’s Critical Indigenous Studies research has been featured in the Washington Post, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, The Atlantic, Newsy, and NPR. She has also released articles in American Quarterly and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and has two forthcoming monographs. The first, Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s Capital (in production, Georgetown University Press), analyzes historical and contemporary sites of Indigenous importance in Washington, DC. Rule’s second book project, Reproducing Resistance: Gendered Violence and Indigenous Nationhood, links reproductive justice and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; this work received the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities’ Julien Mezey Award in 2020. Rule is the creator of the Guide to Indigenous DC (2019), Guide to Indigenous Baltimore (2021), and Guide to Indigenous Maryland (2022) digital map and mobile applications. Rule’s work has received support from the Henry Luce Foundation, MIT Solve, Ford Foundation, Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies, and more.
Melissa Scholes Young
Melissa Scholes Young is the author of the award-winning novels The Hive and Flood and the chapbooks Guinea Pig and Scrap Metal Baby. She is a Contributing Editor for Fiction Writers Review and Executive Editor of Grace in Darkness, Furious Gravity, and From the Attic, anthologies by women writers. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Ms., Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Ploughshares, Literary Hub, and Believer Magazine. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Foundation, the Center for Mark Twain Studies, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri, she is a professor in the Department of Literature at American University and serves as Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing.