Bakersfield College

Energizing Humanities in California's San Joaquin Valley



Energizing Humanities in California's San Joaquin Valley is a $100,000, three-year grant project from interdisciplinary humanities perspectives promoting cultural competency in humanities instruction at Bakersfield College. The grant is funded as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Humanities Initiatives at Community Colleges program, and it is directed by Professors Oliver Rosales, Andrew Bond, and Josh Ottum.


Logo for National Endowment for the Humanities,

Complementing the local legacy of energy production, Energizing Humanities in California’s San Joaquin Valley examines the concept of energy broadly from historical and literary perspectives, as well as the intersection of humanities with music/performing arts.  Historically, the southern San Joaquin Valley has been an epicenter of labor and civil rights activism in California and beyond throughout the twentieth century, stemming especially from the broad impact of the farm labor movement at the state and national levels. The region too has been a powerful landscape for literary production and narratives of self and place, as well as music and cultural performance. This project holistically explores the overlap, interchange, and commingling intersection of history, literature, and the arts.

The grant’s programming will examine recent scholarship in the area of California’s diverse agricultural history. Topics will include the origins of agribusiness, organized labor, the significance of undocumented migrant labor, and the farm labor movement’s broad impact on political and economic development in California and beyond.  Central California’s diverse energy economy has also provided a rich template for literary production. We will also analyze the intersection between California’s energy and agricultural economies and literary landscapes, including the context of the Dust Bowl migration, ethnic Mexican communities, and Asian immigration. Our work will also address topics regarding energy humanities using lenses of sound and music which amplify histories and critical issues facing the region.

The first two years will include summer bridge programs targeting area high school seniors from migrant backgrounds transitioning to Bakersfield College. These summer bridge programs will provide place-based pedagogical models and local cultural resources to energize humanities instruction for BC Faculty.

A regional conference highlighting faculty pedagogical innovation, student panels, as well as keynote speakers, will conclude the grant project. A performance based on student testimonials/writings and music/sound design collected from the first two project years’ summer bridge programs will supplement the closing conference.

Faculty Cohorts

Each year, faculty cohorts selected from an applicant pool will engage critical scholarship within the fields of history, literature, and cultural performing arts. All faculty cohorts will be given training in digital humanities in order to create interdisciplinary assessments for wide distribution and sharing of learning beyond the classroom. Cohort members are expected to attend speaking events (usually 3 or 4 per term, scheduled on Thursday evenings), cohort workshops (to be scheduled on Fridays after speaking events), and help with the grant’s summer bridge programming.  Cohort members will be given a stipend for their participation and provided with free copies of texts to be used in workshops and discussions with invited speakers. All full-time and part-time KCCD faculty may apply.            

Faculty members who are interested in applying to be a part of the cohort should complete the application.

Meet the Directors

Oliver Rosales

Oliver RosalesOliver A. Rosales, Professor of History and Faculty Coordinator of the Social Justice Institute at Bakersfield College, earned a B.A. in History at the University of California, Berkeley, M.A. in History at California State University, Bakersfield, and a Ph.D. in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also a former Visiting Faculty at Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching Program and Visiting Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is contributor to The Chicano Movement: Perspectives from the Twenty-First Century (Routledge Press 2014); Civil Rights and Beyond: African American and Latino/a Activism in the Twentieth Century United States (University of Georgia Press, 2016); and The Journal of the West (Winter 2015). He serves on the Nominating Board of the Organization of American Historians and is an Advisory Board member to California Humanities.



Andrew Bond

Andrew BondAndrew Bond, Professor of English at Bakersfield College, earned his B.A. in English Literature from California State University, Northridge, and a M.A. in English from the University of California, Riverside. His research has focused on Asian American and African American literatures, critical race theory, minority discourse, migrant and immigrant narratives, and theories of postcolonialism and postcoloniality. He has been a member of the English faculty at Bakersfield College since 2015 and was appointed to the position of department liaison for the college’s Rural Initiatives Program. In this capacity, he collaborates with fellow faculty, staff, and administration to increase and improve English course offerings in those rural regions of Kern County that fall within Bakersfield College’s service area.



Joshua Ottum

Josh OttlumJosh Ottum, Professor of Commercial Music at Bakersfield College, earned B.A. degrees in Music and Psychology, an M.F.A. in Music from University of California, Irvine, and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Ohio University. His research focuses on sound studies, environmental humanities, and popular music studies. Ottum is responsible for the Performing Arts Center for Entrepreneurship at Bakersfield College funded by a grant through the California Community Colleges Small Business Sector. His publications have been featured in Social Alternatives (2014), Sounding Out! (2014), and a forthcoming chapter will appear in Perspectives on Music Production Vol. II (Routledge) in 2017.


Kern Community College District