Baltimore Field School 2021

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, the Baltimore Field School project team requested and received a one-year extension from Mellon on the project and plan to pause major work. The inaugural Baltimore Field School will be postponed until summer 2021.

As director of the Orser Center, Nicole King will continue to work on setting up the project’s website, studying similar summer institutes, and developing more resources on public humanities. Our wonderful Project Manager, Imani Spence, and King will remain in contact with our partners at Black Yield Institute and the Southwest Partnership. The project team hopes to resume some planning capacity this summer and we will convene a meeting of this group again at the start to the fall 2020 semester.

Here’s a brief overview of the project and our current partners on the Summer 2021 BALTIMORE FIELD SCHOOL:

The summer 2021 Baltimore Field School, a humanities-based training intensive, will create a framework for faculty and graduate students to collaborate with community organizations in developing methods for ethical research and teaching projects focused on public humanities in Baltimore. The project is supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The pilot Baltimore Field School will run for two weeks in summer 2021. All UMBC faculty and graduate students working in the humanities are eligible to apply. The field school will have approximately 12 participants from UMBC. Participants should be interested in publicly engaged research and programming in Baltimore. All field school participants will be paid a stipend of $3,000 and lunch will be provided during the field school summer institutes. The field school will be based at the CAHSS downtown classroom at the Lion Brothers Building in Southwest Baltimore, and participants will be working in the field in South and Southwest Baltimore.


Eric Jackson and Black Yield Institute

Black Yield Institute is a Pan-African power institution based in Baltimore, Maryland, serving as a think tank and collective action network that addresses food apartheid. Since our beginning in November 2015, we have worked collaboratively with black people and entities, along with other institutions, in pursuit of Black land and food sovereignty. We are to build independent power by establishing an action network and serving as an incubator for ideas and projects. We are unapologetically a Black-led institution, utilizing Afrocentric, Pan-African, and human rights frameworks to anchor our thought and works toward liberation through food. 

Eric Jackson is an organizer, educator, and filmmaker, humbly serving as the visionary and a co-founder of Black Yield Institute, committed to building a movement toward Black Land and Food Sovereignty in Baltimore. Currently, he and his team, are committed to a 1.25 acre urban agriculture operation and building a cooperatively-owned grocery store in South Baltimore, while also conducting Black-led research, facilitating political education, and organizing an action network. Eric has over a decade of experience working in and with communities operating programming and helping people to build power and address a myriad of issues, including food inequities. A Baltimore native from the Cherry Hill Community, Eric is the recipient of numerous awards and a public speaker who has presented hundreds of addresses and workshops to diverse groups about food sovereignty, building power, and establishing strong organizations to address complex social issues, specific to people of African Descent. He is affirmed in and secured this work through the love of his family and friends, especially the brilliance of his Queen, Diara, and four children, Oryan, Erian, Amir, & Kamau!

Curtis Eaddy and Southwest Partnership

The Southwest Partnership envisions an awesome, healthy, architecturally beautiful, diverse, cohesive community of choice built on mutual respect and shared responsibility. We embrace all diversity: from race, gender, and sexual orientation to economic, education, and housing choice. Our diversity is our strength. The Southwest Partnership aims to maintain this vision through productive land uses and partnerships that will maintain a cohesive community. We partner with our neighbors, surrounding communities, city government, area institutions, and businesses, knowing that when we take the right road together, and with integrity, everyone will benefit. The Southwest Partnership is a coalition of seven neighborhood associations and six anchor institutions in Southwest Baltimore. We work together to build awesome communities in the Southwest Partnership Area: the neighborhoods of Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Roundhouse, Mount Clare, Pigtown, Poppleton, and Union Square.

Curtis Eaddy was born in Baltimore and raised in Poppleton. He is a community artist and a Hip Hop DJ and Emcee, who has been programming events for more than ten-years. As a student at Frostburg State University, he founded an Arts & Entertainment campus-organization to provide diverse cultural events to unite a non-diverse college-community. After graduating, he returned to Baltimore and continued organizing for public events in Baltimore City Public Schools, and non-profit organizations (College Bound Foundation, Reginald F. Lewis Museum). His passion for community development brought him to the Southwest Partnership. His plan as Marketing and Events Manager is to identify opportunities for and develop new events to help bridge the disconnect between the neighborhoods in the community. Curtis is responsible for supporting and publicizing community events and marketing the Southwest Partnership and the neighborhoods.

Project Evaluator/Assessor

Dr. Tahira Mahdi is a community psychologist and consultant based in the Baltimore-Washington, DC region. Tahira develops and facilitates workshops and presentations for community programs, businesses, organizations, and college/university students and personnel regarding internal & external community matters, equity & diversity, and research & evaluation.

Questions or Thoughts? Email Nicole King

Baltimore Field School: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports UMBC’s inclusive approach to community-based research

UMBC’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) is pleased to announce the launch of a fourteen-month initiative to promote diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the public humanities, supported by a $125,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project, Strengthening UMBC’s Public Humanities Infrastructure: The Baltimore Field School, will create a framework for faculty to collaborate with community organizations in building ethical and sustainable research and teaching projects focused on public humanities. 

King works with students Dawn Baskin and DeAndre Bright to get an informed consent form signed by Lonnie Combs as part of the A Walk Down West Baltimore Street project (spring 2019). –photo by Bill Shewbridge

A new view of public humanities

The Baltimore Field School is coordinated by UMBC’s Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture and led by Nicole King, associate professor of American Studies and director of the Orser Center, and CAHSS Dean Scott Casper. It aims to advance UMBC’s humanistic scholarship and teaching, rooted in deep and meaningful engagement with communities and neighborhoods. 

“We want to think differently about how public humanities work can be done by reflecting on what ethical community-university partnerships look like,” says King. 

For more on the project, please read the full story HERE.

Upcoming Events in October

Thursday, October 11 From Exclusion to Inclusion:
Rethinking Infrastructure to Bridge Baltimore’s Divides
is a one-day symposium in Pigtown that traces the impact of policies and design practices that reinforced segregation and disparity in Baltimore — focusing on infrastructure like roads, streetscape, and transit — and envisions a better way forward for the MLK, Jr. Boulevard corridor. The symposium is followed by another event: an evening networking reception that serves as the exhibition opening. The reception is free and open to a broader audience.

This Friday, October 12 at noon, is the next Engaged Humanities Speaker Series at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Brett Stoudt, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, “Researching at the Community-University Borderlands: Using Public Science to Study Policing in the South Bronx” (Malone 107) Stoudt will present on the Morris Justice Project, a participatory action research (PAR) study in a South Bronx neighborhood of New York City designed to understand residents’ experiences with and attitudes towards the New York Police Department. He will describe how a set of participatory, research-action, “sidewalk science” strategies—grounded in community knowledge/expertise—helped to challenge the ongoing structural violence of the carceral state.

If you missed the release party for Baltimore Revisited at Red Emma’s or if you just want to keep celebrating, you are invited to join us on October 15 in Fine Arts 559 from 11:30am – 12:45pm for the UMBC Book Party… there’s a free TACO BAR and you can pick up the book

OCTOBER 15, 5:30 – 6:30 pm | Macksey Seminar Room, Brody Learning Commons “Black Queer Performance in Baltimore’s ‘Cathedral of Books’” by Joseph Plaster, Curator in Public Humanities at Johns Hopkins, presents on a collaborative project between Johns Hopkins and Baltimore’s ballroom community: the Peabody Ballroom Experience. Plaster screens a short film about the project and discusses community engaged work in light of historically exploitative relationships between the university and black Baltimore. More information about the event at

Baltimore Revisited book release party

The Orser Center invites you to join us as we celebrate the release of a new anthology on the political and racial economy of urban life in Baltimore!

Event posted designed by John Duda, Red Emma’s, 2019

Nicknamed both “Mobtown” and “Charm City” and located on the border of the North and South, Baltimore is a city of contradictions. From media depictions in The Wire to the real-life trial of police officers for the murder of Freddie Gray, Baltimore has become a quintessential example of a struggling American city. Yet the truth about Baltimore is far more complicated—and more fascinating.

To help untangle these apparent paradoxes, the editors of Baltimore Revisited: Stories of Inequality and Resistance in a U.S. City have assembled a collection including twenty-seven chapters and thirty experts from inside and outside academia. Together, they reveal that Baltimore has been ground zero for a slew of neoliberal policies and is a place where inequality has increased as corporate interests have eagerly privatized public goods and services to maximize profits. But they also uncover how community members resist and reveal a long tradition of Baltimoreans who have fought for social justice.

The essays in this collection take readers on a tour through the city’s diverse neighborhoods, from the Lumbee Indian community in East Baltimore to the crusade for environmental justice in South Baltimore. Baltimore Revisited examines the city’s past, reflects upon the city’s present, and envisions the city’s future.

Edited by P. Nicole King, Kate Drabinski, Joshua Clark Davis

Contributions by Lawrence Brown, Daniel L. Buccino, Michael Casiano, Sam Collins, Shannon Darrow, Matthew Durington, Nicole Fabricant, Aiden Faust, Jennifer A. Ferretti, Leif Fredrickson, Robert Gamble, Marisela Gomez, April K. Householder, Jodi Kelber- Kaye, Louise Parker Kelley, Emily Lieb, Jacob R. Levin, Teresa Méndez, Denise Meringolo, Ashley Minner, Elizabeth M. Nix, Richard E. Otten, Eli Pousson, Mary Rizzo, Fred Scharmen, Aletheia Hyun-Jin Shin, Linda Shopes, Michelle L. Stefano, Shawntay Stocks, Joe Tropea, and Amy Zanoni. Cover art by Markele Cullins.

Bmore Historic Happy Hour

Bmore Historic Happy Hour: How to Lead a Great Unconference Session is Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at 5pm at the Peabody Height Brewery. Please RSVP on the Eventbrite page or on Facebook.

Join us to learn how to translate your research interest or burning questions into a great session at the 2019 Bmore Historic Unconference on September 27. The discussion will be facilitated by local museum consultant Dean Krimmel, David Armenti, Director of Education at the Maryland Historical Society, and Kate Drabinski, a Gender & Women’s Studies faculty member at UMBC. All three are regular Bmore Historic participants with loads of experience organizing and facilitating sessions and workshops of all kinds.

Bmore Historic is a bit unusual. Instead of typical conference PowerPoint presentations, we ask our volunteer facilitators to design and lead interactive sessions full of discussion and participation. If you’ve never done that before, it might sound intimidating. Which is why you should consider attending this event where you’ll learn plenty of tips, tricks, and good ideas.

Following the discussion, stick around to talk, have a drink, and take in the brewery’s Baltimore sports history exhibits. You’ll be glad you did. Questions? Contact Dean Krimmel at

The Orser Center is a co-sponsor of the 2019 Bmore Historic unconference at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on Friday, September 27. For more info visit:

New Public Humanities Minor

We are excited to announce the NEW public humanities minor in the Department of American Studies‘ Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture. Over the past three years a working group co-chaired by Nicole King (chair AMST) and Jessica Berman (Director, Dresher Center, ENGL) with representatives from over a dozen programs and departments across the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at UMBC has been working to develop the minor. In fall 2019, we will offer the first iteration of PUBH 200: Introduction to Public Humanities (Tu/Th 1-2:15) at UMBC. More to come on the course soon… but you can read the basic details of the minor below.

Please send any questions to Nicole King at

The New Public Humanities Minor in the Department of American Studies’ Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture (17 credits total)

Students use the tools and methods of the humanities to build knowledge democratically and respond critically to challenges of the twenty-first century. The courses in the public humanities minor prepare students to work collaboratively and creatively to connect original research and programming more deeply the public, including local communities. The minor builds skills for creating sustainable projects that actively engage the public in meaningful dialogue, interaction, and knowledge production. During their core coursework (PUBH 200, 301, and 401) students will develop a public-facing project and a portfolio of work while taking electives offered in AMST and participating departments.

CORE: (7 credits)

  1. PUBH 200: Introduction to Public Humanities (NEW course – offered in fall semester)
  2. AMST 300 OR HIST 300: Approaches/Methods courses in American Studies and Public History + PUBH 301: Project Development Lab 1 credit lab (4 credits total)

ELECTIVES (6 credits):

2 courses from the same or related fields from approved programs and departments


PORTFOLIO: (4 credits total)

1 400-level research, capstone, or applied experience course (3 credits) + lab/portfolio

PUBH 401: Lab/Portfolio: 1 credit

Note: UMBC’s interdisciplinary Summer CoLab Program and AMST’s 4-week Baltimore summer field school count towards the minor.

Bmore Historic 2018 happy hour

Please join us for the 2018 Orser Center happy hour… get your tickets here.

The Bmore Historic/Orser Center happy hour is Thursday, September 6 from 4:30-7pm in the back room at Mick O’Shea’s pub (328 North Charles Street). We will provide the chips and salsa + guacamole.

It’s Taco Thursday… so there’s a cheap a la carte taco menu and margarita + tequila specials for you to purchase. Join us to workshop some specific session ideas for Bmore Historic on September 28. We will mingle and people can use notecards to write ideas (or bring your pre-written ideas so you can focus on chips and drinks)… and at around 6pm we will read out the witty proposal titles we have come up with and discuss. Feel free to just come, eat some chips, and listen. Drop in or out as you like.

Bmore Historic Happy Hour

18055803_10158670152725650_3995548861366860003_oSAVE THE DATE: The annual Bmore Historic unconference is scheduled for September 29, 2017 from 8:30am to 4pm at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Please stay tuned for more details. The Orser Center has been a co-sponsor of Bmore Historic from the inaugural event in 2011. For more information, see the Bmore Historic website and RSVP on the Facebook page.

All friends of the Orser Center are invited to the upcoming Bmore Historic Happy Hour at the Village Learning Place in Charles Village (2521 St. Paul St.) on Friday, May 12 from 6 to 7:30pm.

Please join fellow old building lovers, history nerds, library geeks, neighbors, friends, and family for our Bmore Historic happy hour at the Village Learning Place on the evening of Friday, May 12. The Village Learning Place is a unique, nonprofit community library established by a group of Charles Village residents in 1997 in the former St. Paul Street Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The charming 1896 brick building, designed by local architect Charles L. Carson, includes a handsome outdoor garden where we’ll enjoy an evening of refreshments and informal conversation.

If you’re interested in participating in the Bmore Historic unconference this fall, this happy hour is a great opportunity to meet the organizers, ask questions, and share your ideas for sessions:

We are also partnering with the bLAM Collective to seek ideas for future#bLAMclass workshops:

Don’t forget to register on Eventbrite.

This event is free but we will be accepting donations to cover the costs of refreshments and help support the Village Learning Place. Registration is encouraged!



Orser Center Fellow Lecture: Baltimore and Arts Education

Michael Woodhouse

Inaugural Orser Center Fellow: Spring 2016

Thursday, April 28


University Center 310 

During spring 2016, Woodhouse interned at Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA), a non-profit organization within the heart of Baltimore. The internship included working with the lead art education coordinator Nicoletta Darita de la Brown, working hands-on with inner-city youth, and taking part in two major programs headed by BOPA during the 15-week internship: Light City Teen Scholars and Bright StARTS.

The Orser Center Fellow Student Award is $1,000 for an undergraduate student at UMBC completing an unpaid internship at a non-profit or cultural institution in Baltimore.

Spring 2016 Orser Center Fellow: Student Award

UMBC’s Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture is pleased to announce the Spring 2016 Orser Center Fellows program. Any UMBC undergraduate student who has an unpaid internship with a Baltimore-based non-profit or cultural institution during spring 2016 can apply for the $1,000 Orser Center Student Award.

Students must submit a one-page personal statement describing their internship and the goals they want to achieve, a copy of their transcript, a letter or email of support from the organization offering the internship, and a letter of recommendation from a faculty mentor. We will accept application materials until January 15, 2016.

The Orser Center fellow must register for a three-credit course, AMST 498: Internship (or other UMBC approved 3-credit internship course), which requires the following: (1) 120 hours at the internship (2) weekly journal entries on the internship experience including hours worked (3) a final project relating the experience to issues in American studies. The student must also do a public presentation on the internship experience at UMBC at the end of the internship. The fellow will have access to the Orser Center office and library in the Department of American Studies.

The 2016 Orser Center Fellow should be committed to the Center’s mission of fostering innovative collaborations among scholars, students, and local community organizations. The Center seeks to put humanities research to work as a creative response to problems, challenges, and issues identified by communities in the greater Baltimore region.

Please email all application materials to Dr. Nicole King at by January 15, 2016. Notification of award by January 22, 2016.