Many organizations and communities have archives of materials that have accumulated over the years but are unsorted, in storage, or under-utilized. Sometimes the materials are old and beginning to deteriorate. Practicum students can assess the contents of an archive, sort the materials, and catalogue what is there using Indigenous data management principles. Our students can also work with organizations to stabilize the condition of deteriorating materials and determine how to organize them safely and securely.
Past students have developed archival projects with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Resource Centre. In these practicum projects, students organized historical documents for online access and authored interpretive materials based on UBCIC’s research questions. One particular student catalogued audiotapes documenting an important historical event. She then conducted additional research comparing her findings with the representation of the event in the press and presented her analysis as part of her year-end presentation.
Many archival projects also contain an interviewing component. Often documentary or archival work leads to new research directions, which requires designing and conducting interviews. Other projects concentrate on interviewing as the primary methodology and build archival research into the perimeters of the research, filling in gaps and inviting historical perspectives.
Several students have worked on oral history projects using audiovisual technologies to document the stories and experiences of people involved in underrepresented histories. Such projects provide significant materials for libraries and archives. For instance, one student’s practicum project about the 1981-82 Constitution Express movement established a multi-media historical archive and contributed to the collections at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Resource Centre. Another student videotaped more than fifteen interviews with early leaders of the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC, forming a valuable historical archive for the Association. One student interviewed a retired anthropologist for the UBC Museum of Anthropology and the Musqueam Indian Band. This provided an important record of this person’s work and career in Coast Salish anthropology.
Each year there are also opportunities for students to work with political organizations. For instance, one student worked with the BC Assembly of First Nations to conduct interviews with community leaders on their attitudes towards self-governance in different communities. Another student interviewed Stó:lō community members about their knowledge of salmon in the Fraser River. This research aimed to help the Stó:lō Tribal Council develop policies on fish farming. Our students are trained in documenting oral histories and have access to equipment and resources to record video and high-quality audio and to produce multimedia projects, such as online videos, podcasts, and websites.
It can be challenging for organizations to find the time, space, and resources necessary for research. We understand that many organizations are extremely busy managing day-to-day operations, applying for government or agency funding, and writing reports to disseminate information or fulfill grant obligations. Often the work of report writing ends up being done “off the corner” of a staff person’s already full desk. A practicum student can fill this gap. Students can compile the necessary information, read and analyze materials, and organize their research into an effective and readable report suited to your intended audience. The organization can benefit from the report, and the student can gain valuable research experience.
Report-writing projects can include preparing needs assessments for existing organizations or proposals for the development of new or extended organizations. Previous practicum students have delivered literature reviews, analytical reports, guidebooks, and position papers for organizations.
One student’s report for the Britannia Community Centre investigated the community’s need for an Elders in residence program. The report recommended how the program would best serve community members. Upon completion of the report, the community centre carried forward those recommendations and extended the research project.
Another student compiled a report on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the incarceration of Aboriginal peoples for the Vancouver Métis Community Association. The student performed documentary research and interviews with frontline workers to assist the organization in developing programs for FASD clients.
As UBC students, practicum researchers have access to hundreds of libraries and databases, many of which are closed behind paywalls. They are also uniquely trained to foreground Indigenous perspectives in research while incorporating both peer-reviewed and grey literatures.
Many projects are designed to involve a combination of the skills listed above. We are open to discussing project ideas with your organization. We encourage organizations to think about what their research needs are and how students might design projects to address those specific needs. Past examples of unique research deliverables include podcasts, curricula, databases, a button blanket, and many more. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss a unique research project. We can help to shape and design it for practicum.
There are also opportunities for practicum students to fit into existing research projects under the supervision of experienced researchers, fulfilling a variety of functions as directed. For instance, a previous practicum student worked as part of a larger project for the National Film Board training young Indigenous filmmakers. Another student worked with the Indigenous Health research team at Vancouver Coastal Health to create new ways to measure Indigenous peoples’ healthcare experiences. In both instances, the organization benefited from the timely completion of research, and the student benefited from a valuable research apprenticeship.
We ask that student involvement in such projects be at a level that allows undergraduate students the opportunity to understand and participate in the design and strategic implementation of the project. These projects require additional preparation and monitoring. Please reach out if you have an idea for one.