Undergraduates will soon have the chance to study California Indian dances, interview migrants at the border, work with social welfare groups and more, thanks to the second annual Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Research.

The awards program, which is supported by the UCLA Center for Community Learning and the Chancellor’s office, provides faculty members with individual grants of $10,000 to develop courses that enable students to carry out research projects in conjunction with community partners.

The five 2020 award receipients and the courses they will develop are:

  • Tria Blu Wakpa, assistant professor of world arts and cultures/dance. In Wakpa’s course, students will gather primary and secondary documents related to California Indian dances and write annotated bibliographies. They’ll share their findings with representatives of the Tongva, Chumash, Ohlone and Winnemem Wintu nations, who will draw on the research to revitalize their dances.

  • Rachel Lee, professor of English and gender studies and a faculty member at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. Students in Lee’s course will examine the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s collection of oral histories of women who have experienced illness as a result of chemical and environmental toxins. They will then prepare analytical materials, working with community organizations that are addressing these environmental issues.

  • Jennifer Chun, associate professor of Asian American studies. Chun will work in conjunction with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Leadership Development Project to instruct students on developing relationships and practices of accountability, transparency and reciprocity in the writing of organizational case studies and movement histories. She will also incorporate a community engagement component into existing courses on Asian and Latina women workers in the domestic, care and garment industries.

  • Gaye Theresa Johnson, associate professor of Chicana/o and Central American studies and of African American studies. Students in Johnson’s course will be assigned to different local social welfare organizations, such as Hunger Action Los Angeles, where they will complete a project for the group and identify the intersecting social justice issues that determine the organization’s central organizing principles.

  • Jason De León, professor of anthropology and of Chicana/o and Central American studies. In De León’s course, students will connect with community organizations to interview and conduct focus groups with migrants who have been held in federal detention centers along the United States–Mexico border, as well as with detention center workers and local residents. Their work will be incorporated into an art exhibition called Hostile Terrain 94, part of the Undocumented Migration Project.

The cohort will spend the 2020–21 academic year developing their courses and will begin offering them to undergraduates in 2021–21 or 2022–23.

“In these tumultuous times, it is more important than ever for students to be actively engaged in the world around them,” Chancellor Gene Block said. “The Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Research recognizes and supports those faculty who are providing exceptional undergraduate learning opportunities, empowering students to conduct research that will benefit the community and amplify voices that are often silenced. I look forward to seeing the positive impact the courses will have on both the Bruins who take part and the communities they will serve.”