In just under five months, between late June and early May 2015, thirty-one students in History of the American Worker recorded and produced seventeen documentaries and podcasts.
It was a monumental feat. The assignment was large and ambitious, and most of the students had little or no experience with film or sound production. But, with a great deal of help and advice from project collaborator Casey Fenton at Penn State’s Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship and the Penn State Media Commons, class members managed to pull together some truly insightful and entertaining work.
The subjects of the assembled documentaries and podcasts both reflect the world of their creators and go beyond its boundaries. They include not only fast-food workers, residential staff, and educators – all of whom figure prominently in the lives of college students – but more unlikely subjects like hospice workers, bus drivers, the staff of the local VA, and a construction worker / pastor named Joseph Santos.
They are collected here for the first time –a testament to both their creators’ dedication, insight, and imagination, and to the vitality of the community they represent.