HUM 300 Certificate in Oral History for Social Change

Oral history can be a powerful tool for those working for social change and social justice. The stories we share about our lives and everyday experiences shape the world we live in and often determine the ways others understand their place in the world. Traditional historical narratives have often excluded voices from marginalized communities such as women, people of color, indigenous, young people, lgbtq+, disabled persons, and others. Leaving their stories out of the historical record further contributes to their disempowerment. By making spaces for the telling and preservation of these stories, oral history can support a more capacious and inclusive historical narrative, which is an important mechanism for social change. Oral histories can describe the world as it is, but they can also be spaces to identify social problems and imagine social alternatives. Oral historians conduct interviews, transcribe and index the recordings, analyze the oral histories, archive and share them with their audience, often for educational purposes. This certificate program introduces adult learners to Oral History as a tool for social change and helps develop the skills and strategies needed to conduct oral histories ethically and effectively. Building on the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life's extensive oral history training and archival expertise, we walk you through the steps needed to design and execute your own oral history project. Our approach to oral history for social change is informed by our Religions Texas initiative, which is a community-based archive that seeks to diversify the historical record and empower Texans to tell their stories on their own terms.

The Institute for Diversity and Civic Life is a non-profit organization that creates more inclusive public spaces through storytelling, research, and education. Our work and expertise in Oral History provide the bedrock and context for these online courses.

What will we learn?

The certificate program issued by the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life teaches you how to use oral history as a tool to advance social justice.  The certificate program is a 15-hour experience for non-credit students and consists of five on-demand courses. In total, the program will provide learners with the following experiences:

  • Explore the method of oral history and the ways it can be used for social justice and community organizing;
  • Discover practical guides, tips, and resources for designing and completing each step in an oral history project;
  • Understand ethical approaches for planning and implementing oral history projects;
  • Review notable oral history projects; and
  • Analyze key articles from leaders in the field.

Each course is designed to stand on its own, but the courses are most comprehensive when completed together. The first focuses on the origins of Oral History as a formal methodology and the second delves into oral history’s relationship to social justice and ethical issues. Courses three through five provide more technical instruction on the tools and skills needed to successfully plan, collect, and archive oral history narratives.

▸ In HUM 301 Introduction to Oral History, you will explore the origins of Oral History as a formal methodology and narrative research approach. 

▸ In HUM 302 Oral History and Social Justice, you will investigate critical approaches for narrative driven social change and familiarize yourself with ethical frameworks for community-based oral histories.

▸ In HUM 303 Oral History Project Planning, you will review best practices for designing a new research project, including seeking consent, identifying and recruiting narrators, and pre-interview preparation.

▸ IIn HUM 304 Conducting Oral History Interviews, you will learn interviewing techniques, including listening and questioning styles, time management, and recording equipment.

▸ In HUM 305 Archiving and Curating Oral Histories, you will learn how to process, transcribe, and code transcripts. You will explore best practices for narrator follow-up, editing, and archiving. You will also identify engagement strategies for educating communities about your findings.

Students Seeking Academic Credit: After completing the graded assignments in the previous five courses, students will enroll in HUM 206 Capstone Project. Students will design and implement a community-based project, applying what they have learned from the course collection. Start a Live Chat to speak with your advisor about which accredited colleges and universities will offer you academic credit for completing the HUM 200-level course collection.

How will we learn together? is a social learning community. Adult learners apply the WISE CAP method developed by 1791 Delegates. Students begin by Watching compelling videos, Interacting with retention games, Studying scholarly sources, and Engaging their fellow students and community. Those enrolled for college credit earn their CAP by Composing essays, Amending their written work based on faculty feedback, and verbally Presenting their insights to their classmates and community. The WISE CAP and Capstone exercises use the gamification of online learning to enhance adults’ intellectual and professional development.

Let’s get started! Have fun and let us know if you have any questions!


Dr. Tiffany Puett

Executive Director
Institute for Diversity and Civic Life

Dr. Elizabeth M. Melton

Public Engagement Director
Institute for Diversity and Civic Life

Eleonora Anedda MA

Oral Historian
Institute for Diversity and Civic Life

Van Wagner

Community Archive Director
Institute for Diversity and Civic Life

Rimsha N. Syed

Program Coordinator
Institute of Diversity and Civic Life

Civic Education for the Common Good

We adhere to the best practices outlined by the Oral History Association.

In our research and curriculum design, we apply the four key elements of oral history work:
▸ Preparation
▸ Interviewing
▸ Preservation, and
▸ Access.

We apply the U.S. Department of Education’s Consensus Statements about Constitutional Approaches for Teaching about Religion

▸ Our approach to religion is academic, not devotional;
▸ We strive for student awareness of religions, but do not press for student acceptance of any religion;
▸ We sponsor the study about religion, not the practice of religion;
▸ We expose students to a diversity of religious views, but may not impose any particular view;
▸ We educate about all religions, we do not promote or denigrate any religion;
▸ We inform students about religious beliefs and practices, it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief or practice.

We apply the American Academy of Religion’s “Religious Literacy Guidelines”

▸ “Religious Literacy Guidelines for College Students.” American Academy of Religion, 2019.
▸ “Teaching About Religion: AAR Guidelines for K-12 Public Schools.” American Academy of Religion, April 2010.

Special Thanks

The Institute for Diversity and Civic Life’s certificate in oral history for social change was made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. Onboarding and technical support came from the staff of, thanks to funding from 1791 Delegates, The Foundation for Religious Literacy, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

The continuation of this work depends on contributions from generous supporters like you. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 47-3265073).