WHC Graduate Student Assistants

The World History Center funds a one-semester Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) position in Public History each academic year.  The program is open to any Pitt graduate student in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences with an interest in world history and creating a public-facing project. The goal of the GSA program is to communicate with a non-academic audience about a topic in the transregional or global past. We take the term public history broadly.  We require only that projects target audiences that extend beyond undergraduate majors or scholars in one particular discipline or field. 

The GSA in public history is an opportunity for graduate students in the Dietrich School to enhance their dissertation research, engage in the public humanities, and build transferrable skills they can use on the job market. The GSA program collaborates with Humanities Engage, a program at the University of Pittsburgh that helps graduate students flourish during graduate school and move confidently into meaningful professional roles afterwards. Humanities Engage supports public-facing humanistic scholarship, public engagement, collaboration, and the communication of research to non-specialist audiences.

Current and past GSA research projects are featured below.  For information on upcoming GSA calls for proposals, please visit our News page, sign up for our mailing list, or follow us on Twitter.  

The GSA selection committee is comprised of the WHC Director, Associate Director and one external member. Thanks to our current GSA selection committee: Dan Kubis (Department of English), Ruth Mostern (WHC Director), and Molly Warsh (WHC Associate Director). 

Spring 2022 GSA Hanning Wang

Hanning Wang, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology, is the World History Center's Spring 2022 Graduate Student Assistant. During her GSAship, Hanning is conducting research and developing a website that explores the competing historical narratives of conflicts in Hong Kong. Hanning is also researching and writing a white paper about conducting intergroup dialogues over conflicting historical narratives. 

Spring 2021 GSA Chie Togami

Chie Togami, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology, was the World History Center's Spring 2021 Graduate Student Assistant. As a GSA, Chie is developing a branch of her dissertation scholarship into a public-facing project which will culminate in a three-part podcast series and accompanying ArcGIS StoryMaps. This podcast draws world-historical connections between Pittsburgh, the U.S. Steel Corporation, and people and places around the world which have figured deeply into the legacy of this transnational corporation. In particular, Chie's project aims to expand the public’s understanding of the region’s longstanding air pollution problem by drawing connections between this local environmental issue and larger global, historical processes. During her GSAship, Chie collaborated with local advocacy groups including G.A.S.P. (the Group Against Smog and Pollution) and North Braddock Residents for our Future. Click hear to listen to Extraction! 

On October 7 2021, Chie presented her project during an event cosponsored by Group Against Smog and Pollution (G.A.S.P). The event featured a discussion with three local environmental activists, Edith Abeyta, Mel Packer, and Mike Stout. 

Summer 2019 GSA Katie Loney

Katie Loney, from the Department of History of Art and Architecture, was the WHC Graduate Student Assistant for the 2019 Summer I session. Her project focused on a set of furnishings produced by New York-based designer Lockwood de Forest and the Ahmedabad Wood Carving Company, which were purchased in the late-nineteenth century by the heiress, philanthropist, and suffragette Mary Garrett for one of her Baltimore estates. With the help of de Forest, she later incorporated these pieces into the Deanery at Bryn Mawr College, where Garrett and her partner M. Carey Thomas (the then president of Bryn Mawr College) lived and worked in the early twentieth century. By reexamining these objects and their position in Orientalist interiors in the context of period photographs, correspondence, inventory reports, and other archival materials, Katie tracked the movement of these furnishings from Ahmedabad, India to Bryn Mawr, PA. A digital exhibition, titled “‘India in America’: East Indian Furnishings Between Ahmedabad and Bryn Mawr,” visualizes the now non-existent spaces through with these objects moved; their position as objects of skilled craftsmanship, commodities, and exotic luxury furnishings; and the ways in which turn-of-the-century Indians and Americans used them to navigate their identity and social relationships in an increasingly interconnected world. Read more about the exhibit here. 

The exhibition was accompanied by two public events organized by Katie and Nina Bloomfield (PhD Candidate, Bryn Mawr College). In October 2019, they hosted a curatorial conversation in which they discussed Katie’s digital exhibition and Nina’s physical exhibition “‘All-over Design’: Lockwood de Forest between Ahmedabad and Bryn Mawr.” In November 2019, Katie and Nina hosted an object-study session at Bryn Mawr College, where faculty, staff, and students closely examined the Ahmedabad Wood Carving Company’s objects visually and haptically.

Spring 2019 GSAs Bethany Wade and Sarah Kennedy

Bethany Wade, from the Department of History, and Sarah Kennedy, from the Department of Anthropology, served concurrent appointments as Graduate Student Assistants in Public History for the Spring 2019 term. Bethany's project, "Transnational Afterlives of Dead Bodies," explored the practice of exhuming and relocating bodies in the Caribbean and the United States by focusing on the experience of migrant and immigrant communities. Maps, archival and genealogical records, and oral interviews were used alongside artifacts, objects, and the physical and material spaces of burial to reconstruct the ways in which class, race, and power were implicated in social and cultural systems of burial in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States. The results of this will be presented to the public in multiple formats, including a walking tour on September 24, 2019 entitled "Buried Spaces of the Dead." The tour highlighted local landmarks that once served as  burial sites in downtown Pittsburgh. Bethany also hosted a lunchtime talk entitled "Afterlives of the Dead: An Embodied Approach to Space, Public History, and the Taboo." 

Sarah's project examined the social dynamics of historic mining camps in Peru and the United States by focusing on periods of conflict related to unfair labor practices.  During her tenure, Sarah created a digital museum exhibit entitled “Mining Our Past” that compares the daily life of silver miners in seventeenth-century Peru to the lives of twentieth- century coal miners in West Virginia. on April 24, 2019 Sarah gave a public lecture at the Pump House that described her project and situated it within a broader historical context. 

Summer 2018 GSA Andréa Hanna

Andréa Hanna, from the Department of Communications and Rhetoric, served as the WHC Graduate Student Assistant during the Summer I session in 2018.  Her project, "A Transmutation of St. Anthony's Relic-Reliquaries and the Troy Hill Community", explored how European Catholic relics, imported to America, helped reconstruct the identity of Pittsburgh's Germanic immigrant community in Troy Hill during the 19th century.  Through interviews with community members and church leadership, the project put the many thousands of Catholic relics in St Anthony’s chapel into dialogue with Troy Hill residents as they shared their memories and relationships with these transregional objects.    

Andréa delivered a public lecture on her research on August 27th, 2018 at St. Anthony's Chapel.  The event was very well attended and brought together Troy Hill community members, church leaders, and faculty members from several different departments at Pitt. Additional information about Andréa's research and a video of her public lecture are available by request.   

Spring 2018 GSAs Alex Mountain and Cory Brazile

Two graduate students from the Department of History served as the first GSAs in Public History for the WHC in the Spring of 2018.  After submitting a joint proposal, Alex Mountain and Cory Brazile were selected to work on an oral history project about the impact of the increasingly global nature of sports on youth sports in Pittsburgh over the last fifty years. Alex examined the transformation of ice hockey from a regional sport, popular only in the northern enclaves of North America, to a global, commercial network of teams and players.  Cory investigated the impact of the global trends of professionalization in sport on local youth soccer programs.

At the conclusion of their research, Alex and Cory created the website City of Champyinz. The site hosts video compilations of the interviews they conducted throughout the term.    

In addition to the website, Alex and Cory secured a partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.  Some of their work has been integrated into the Museum's exhibition on sports in Pittsburgh. Specifically, the interviews they conducted contribute to the current collection of oral histories and were featured on the Heinz "Making History Blog".