CAUSE Bridge-Building Projects
A variety of programs link CAUSE to the larger Pittsburgh region, and to African American urban studies in the state and nation.
A.W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar, 2014-15: The Ghetto: Concept, Conditions and Connections in Transnational Historical Perspective, from the 11th Century to the Present.
CAUSE Oral History Project
Midwest Consortium for Black Studies (MCBS)
Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA)
Sustainable Landscape Architecture Project (SLAP)
Center for the Arts in Society (CAS)
Pittsburgh Public Schools
Pittsburgh Urban League
Formed in 1996, the MCBS consists of scholars affiliated with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Carnegie Mellon University. During the spring 2002 meeting of the Midwest Consortium for Black Studies, graduate students formed a graduate collective within the MCBS. In addition to helping consolidate the institutional presence of black studies at member universities, the Consortium aims to develop relationships with historically black colleges and universities, in both the North and South. To accomplish this mission, the Consortium emphasizes the development of dialogues between scholars working in different disciplinary areas within black studies. These dialogues include Ford Foundation-sponsored seminars on black women's studies, black urban studies, and "Race in the 21st Century," with special emphasis on the relationships between African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Our interdisciplinary efforts also aim to increase the role of black studies in the creation of public policies that are more responsive to the complicated realities of our multi-racial society.
For nearly five years, CAUSE supported a half-time executive secretary for the Labor and Working Class History Association. The decision to support this post was consistent with our mission to promote collaborative linkages between Carnegie Mellon University and other institutions and professional organizations.
LAWCHA's membership includes professional historians, graduate students, community and union activists, and independent scholars. Membership is open to anyone who supports public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing and organizing; advocates the widest possible variety of approaches to the subject and a free exchange of ideas and opinions; supports the recruitment of a demographically and regionally diverse membership and leadership; and promotes the development of mutually supportive relationships with existing regional, state, and local labor studies and labor history societies in the U.S. and other countries. Over the past year, LAWCHA organized panels at the North American Labor History Conference (NALHC) at Wayne State University in Detroit; sponsored luncheon speakers at the annual meetings of the Organization of American Historians; awarded annual prizes and travel grants to promising graduate students; and planned special events designed to reach its diverse constituencies.
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Under the leadership of S. K. Woodall, formerly of the CMU Studio for Creative Inquiry, SLAP is a community-based, after school, design arts program for low-income, inner city youth. The program uses design as its education framework and emphasizes student involvement in restoring vacant lots in the Pittsburgh Hill District. A CAUSE grant encouraged SLAP to add a greater urban history component to its work with students.
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CAUSE endorsed and/or collaborated with CAS on the "Hill District Project: A Multi-disciplinary Collaborative Project with Residents of Pittsburgh's Hill District," and "Connecting Community to Knowledge: Sustaining a Youth Inspired Library," also a Hill District Project. Our collaboration grew partly out of Dahlia Leibovich's CAUSE-SURG (Summer Undergraduate Research Grant) to conduct research for "When I was Young: A Book for Children Highlighting Women's Contributions to the Pittsburgh Jazz Scene."
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Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, CAUSE collaborated with the CMU Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and the Pittsburgh Public Schools in the development of the Teaching American History Program, Summer Institute: "Immigration and Migration in Twentieth Century America." Conducted during the summers of 2002, 2003, and 2004, the three-week Immigration and Migration Institute Program served over 40 area teachers. Participants engaged a variety of historical materials, adopted new historical research methods, incorporated the use of primary sources into their lesson plans, and improved their computer skills. At the same time, the historian session leaders and graduate student assistants gained a new understanding of the political culture of the schools, the challenges of dealing with school board bureaucracy, the difficulty of implementing educational reforms, and the stress involved with being adult as well as young learners.
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Mavis Burks (a graduate of CMU and former CAUSE assistant) researched and wrote "The Bridge: African American Guide to Pittsburgh." A collaborative project between the Pittsburgh Urban League and CAUSE, "The Bridge" provides an introduction to Pittsburgh from an African American perspective. Part of the Urban League's campaign to recruit and retain young black professionals in the region, the guidebook offers a sampling of the history and amenities that Pittsburgh has to offer. Sites were selected with three main objectives in mind: regional as well as national significance, a connection to a person or event that is outstanding in Pittsburgh history, and a physical or architectural representation characteristic of the black community at that time.
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