Mission: The Department of American Studies’ Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture (CSPCC) creates a space for innovative collaborations between scholars, students,and community organizations at UMBC. The Center’s goal is the study and preservation of places, communities, and cultures through scholarly research, teaching, and public service. The Center supports UMBC’s desire, as stated in its mission statement, to be a “national model” in promoting “university/community partnerships.” The development of CSPCC builds on work already taking place within the Department of American Studies in the areas of place and community studies by developing a formal infrastructure for interdisciplinary research and public engagement on the history, culture, and preservation of American places.
For over four decades, Ed Orser has embodied quality community engagement in his research and teaching on Baltimore at UMBC. He has set a high standard as an engaged scholar and public intellectual. The Department’s renowned food scholar, Warren Belasco, is developing a class on Baltimore and food. Kimberly Moffitt currently teaches a very popular course on Baltimore in film and a course where students enter the Baltimore public school system to develop and teach media literacy. Nicole King has developed the Preserving Places, Making Space Project, which includes an upper-level applied research class and public programming focused on preserving overlooked places in Baltimore through community/university partnerships.
The center focuses on how the local region has been affected by global trends in fleeing manufacturing and new patterns of immigration and place making. Bringing together the department’s current focus on the relationship between the local and the global, brandished by its recent hire of Tamara Bhalla, an expert on transnational and global literature and culture, places the Department of American Studies at the forefront of current research trends in the field. Exploring the relationships between the local and the global—in the words of social anthropologist James Peacock a “grounded globalism”—would build research, teaching, and public programming opportunities.
The Center is both a physical and digital space located within the Department of American Studies, which will provide a comprehensive website, social networking infrastructure, university/community events to connect people interested in research and development in the areas of place, community, and culture.