Tag Archives: minnesota humanities commission

Hispanic Heritage Month – Resources for the Armchair Learner

Though I have pretty much given up  hope of mastering the Spanish language that only fuels my hope to learn much more about the heritage of my neighbors.  Hispanic;Latino  Heritage Month seems aa good time to focus on a huge gap in my knowledge.  Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15 seem a good time to focus on a huge gap in my knowledge.  Some of the resources I’ve found might prove useful to others whose formal education pre-dates modern times:

First of all, I have always been confused about the terms.  Knowing more about the commemoration helps.  September 15 is the first day of the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries that declared their independence in 1821:  Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Mexico (September 16), Child (September 18) and Belize (formerly British Honduras (September 21).

In 1988 Congress passed a resolution calling on Americans, especially educators, to observe National Hispanic Heritage Month.  President Johnson declared a week which was expanded by President Reagan to a month.

In our community signs of Hispanic Heritage Month are ubiquitous.  Libraries and schools, universities, nonprofit agencies, the media, churches, health care providers and merchants will be taking note.  My emphasis is on digital resources accessible to anyone planning programs or promotions – or to individuals who just want to learn.

As Hispanic Heritage nears, I have just begun to explore the possibilities for armchair learning.  A quick overview is enough to get me excited the rich resources at my fingertips.  The possibilities are endless as these rich resources offer an overwhelming wealth of possibilities:

For starts, the U.S. Census Bureau has tons of data that reflect the most recent stats on people of Hispanic heritage living in the U.S. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff19.html

Increasingly the rare treasures of the Library of Congress are accessible online:   http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/index.html

The Minnesota Humanities Commission Voices from the Latino Community project offers close-to-home stories of Hispanic communities in Minnesota:  http://www.minnesotahumanities.org/video/Clac.cfm

The Smithsonian Latino Center offers online access to a vast selection of digital resources.    Resources include a virtual museum and a virtual gallery. http://latino.si.edu

The Hispanic Culture Online is a potpourri of everything from interviews to language lessons. http://www.hispanic-culture-online.com/#axzz2eKSOD5cz

This is the proverbial tip of a grand iceberg.  There’s lots more to be listed but I’m eager to start the linking/learning adventure.








Scholars Without Walls

The walls of academia, that is….

Though I was present at the birth of the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum over two decades ago, I’m never really Poked Around some of the details or independent scholarship, its various permutations and connections…  What I did know is that, in the early 1980’s an assemblage of disenfranchised researchers, educators and lifelong learners, working with the Minnesota Humanities Commission, joined forces to address the critical needs of serious scholars working on their own and without the perks of academic life.  To some extent their inspiration came from am emerging national recognition of independent scholarship, manifest in one way by publication of the widely read The Independent Scholar’s Handbook by Ron Gross.

After much deliberation (as becomes a gathering of independents) these folks agreed that independent scholars experienced specific needs – for access to library resources, for recognition of writing, speaking and other scholarly pursuits, for foundation and government funding, and, above all, for opportunities to share information and ideas with colleagues.

Many of the barriers, the group concluded, were remedial.  Thus they created the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum, now a 501c3 nonprofit.  Though time and technology have alleviated some of the problems, e.g. access to library resources, others persist. Time constraints and a dearth of venues that support sharing information and ideas top the list.

Today, the MISF works to anticipate, address and meet the changing needs of scholars working on their own.  At the same time the scholars enrich the community by sharing their research and insights with the community at large.  Membership is open to learners of every stripe – no degree requirements.   The current MISF sports a lively mix of active learners in a host of settings – homemakers, part time students, attorneys, librarians, government, museum, corporate employees.  MISF provides a structure that offers common space and opportunity for independent learners — physicists, historians, literary scholars and creative writers, musicians and artists, even lurkers like me. Members share their experiences, their studies and opinions,  and their commitment to an environment that actively supports an academic life that is shared and recognized.

The “independent” in MISF is the tie that binds and the spirit that creates the “lively, interdisciplinary, and non-traditional environment” that is the hallmark of the organization.  MISF dues start at just $25.  All activities are free and open.  Check it out, drop in on a study group or public forum.  Check out the MISF website, email info@mnindepdnentscholars.org or send a note MISF at USPS: Box 80235, Mpls 55408.

National Coalition of Independent Scholars

The Independent Scholar’s Handbook by Ronald Clark revised and available in digital format from Simon Fraser University and the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars.