The UTSC Digital History Project
The UTSC Digital History Project (known as the Scarborough Oral History Project) is an ambitious attempt by Professor Christine Berkowitz and her team to capture the essence of the University of Toronto Scarborough as an institution with a rich history. I offered my services as an artist, attempting to turn the content and insights they'd collected into rich and detailed artworks.
Official Project Description:
The History of the University of Toronto Scarborough Project is a research project sanctioned by the Office of the VP Academic and Dean of UTSC for the purposes of compiling a social and cultural history of the Scarborough campus. Beginning in May 2019, our team of undergraduate students and faculty members have been working to help build a research corpus. The project will result in a published book – but will also result in a great deal of digital projects. In particular, as a main component of our research centers around oral histories/storytelling, we are digitally archiving oral history interviews for public access. Moreover, we are currently developing a WordPress site that will host blog stories, and various other written and media pieces associated with the project. Having both a published book and an online presence encourages a wide and diverse participation in the project. Early on in our research, three major themes emerged: the people, the land, and the institution. These themes have become instrumental in navigating and directing the project and are outlined in some detail below.
Why was this project commissioned? To understand how our academic community evolved into the institution it is today, we must preserve the stories of the struggles, achievements and understand the larger historical factors that influenced policy and program development. As the events in the past become more distant and as our institution grows there is the risk that we will lose the connection with our institutional past and see current events as ahistorical, as brand new experiences disconnected from their past. The belief that understanding the struggles and achievements that brought us here can positively inform our present and future actions is what makes preserving the institutional memory of UTSC an important enterprise.