Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship Awarded to Guttman Faculty for Oral History Work with Our Students



February 23, 2021 | Academics, Faculty, Fellowship, Publication, Research

Dr. Samuel Finesurrey

Dr. Samuel Finesurrey

Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Samuel Finesurrey received the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship as the Principal Investigator of “Chronicling New York City Journeys: Co-Creating an Oral History Archive with Community College Students at a Minority Serving Public Institution,” a project rooted in designing, collecting and archiving oral histories with Guttman students for the Guttman Community College Undergraduate Scholars Oral History Project, which he established in 2019. During the grant period, Dr. Finesurrey will complete the digitization of this collection while also producing an anthology of student-collected oral histories edited in collaboration with undergraduates. This tremendous effort by Dr. Finesurrey and Guttman students Viandry Mena, Hermanica Thelusca, and Ariadna Villeda exemplifies the College’s commitment to foster a culturally engaging environment and involve students in recognizing and examining the diverse narratives in our society.

With Dr. Finesurrey, students Mena, Villeda, and Thelusca co-wrote “Encuentros: The Obligation of the Academy and the Praxis of Intergenerational Oral Histories” for the Winter 2020 issue of the Bringing Theory to Practice Newsletter. In the article, the authors recounted their work in the afore-mentioned Oral History Project and their participation in a panel discussion and community dialogue at a one-day gathering at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, held in September 2019. The event aimed to “provoke a conversation about the responsibility of institutions of higher learning to engage students as scholars and activists in moments of national crisis.” Oral histories such as those collected by immigrant ninth-graders in Manhattan’s School in the Square under guidance and mentoring by Guttman students provide important qualitative material “for researchers and activists looking to revolutionize notions of race, nationality, and belonging.”

Dr. Finesurrey received his Ph.D. in Cuban history with a specialization in U.S. foreign policy and oral history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His historical research explores how, in the context of revolution, contact between U.S. nationals and Cuba’s marginalized communities at once reproduced existing hierarchies and cultivated opportunities for intergroup solidarities. In his time at Guttman, oral history assignments have been a staple of Dr. Finesurrey’s political science and history courses. In addition to teaching, he serves as the College’s OER Campus Coordinator. In this role, Dr. Finesurrey works with faculty to adopt, alter, and create open educational resources to save students money, while simultaneously making materials timelier and more relevant. Further, Dr. Finesurrey has used his academic training to participate in the development of new OERs including his work on the textbook U.S. Government and Politics in Principle and Practice: Democracy, Rights, Freedoms and Empire.