Humboldt in the Time of COVID

We are living through an unprecedented and historically consequential period of time.  Covid-19 is deeply affecting the world in ways we all are still trying to understand. In response, an interdisciplinary team of Faculty from Cal Poly Humboldt, in collaboration with Humboldt’s Library Special Collections and the Center for Community Based Learning, are working on a project to document experiences of the local community during COVID19. Recognizing the historic nature of the current moment, faculty from several departments-- including History, Journalism, Religious Studies, International Studies, Art History, Sociology and Business-- will begin this fall overseeing the work of students in capturing accounts from our campus and local community. The project is called “Humboldt in the Time of COVID19.” 

“This is going to be a living archive of sorts,” said History Department Chair Suzanne Pasztor, one of the project creators. “Materials will be preserved so that future generations will have a record of this remarkable time.”

You are joining the effort of dozens of students from various academic disciplines who are participating in this community-based learning project, gathering stories, oral histories, artistic works and other materials to be included in the archive. Individual community members as well as businesses, nonprofits, community groups, faith-based organizations, schools, local government and social service providers are encouraged to contribute their stories about their personal and professional experiences during COVID19.

Internship and Site Information:

For this project, your official supervisor is the faculty member teaching the class through which you are participating.  In HS4U, your official site is “Humboldt: Humboldt in the Time of Covid19”. The Center for Community Based Learning and the Library Archives/Special Collections are here to support you in your efforts as well as a team of faculty.

Main Project - Oral Histories:

Most students working on this project through their classes will be working on our oral history project. Oral histories are a simple and incredibly effective way of capturing diverse experiences and staying true to those voicing those experiences. Some contacts will be made available through our press releases and may approach our team; these will be made available to those of you working on the project. 

Most of you though, will work with your faculty to identify areas of our population, types of organizations, and groups that you want to focus on. In these cases you may be cold calling organizations and/or sending emails to gain your first contacts and then using “snowball” methodology/networking to create a group of contacts to gather oral histories from. Templates and tracking sheets will be provided.

With so many students working with various faculty and members of the community, it is important you communicate with your faculty about which organizations you are approaching.  Your faculty will be recording these on a common document shared among the classes working on this project. 

As an example - A student may wish to focus on the effects of COVID-19 on environmentalism in Humboldt County. They may start by approaching environmental organizations to get their initial contacts for oral histories.  If 3-4 staff from a local organization participate - they may recommend a number of their volunteers or colleagues to participate, and those participants may recommend more. Now this student, or group of students, can collect a great snapshot of the experience across a number of individuals engaged in activism.  This can be applied to a number of groups - faith based organizations, tribal organizations, art-based organizations, county and city government, law enforcement, the court system, youth organizations, equity related organizations, etc… 

Resources for this project: (will provide links to pdfs in google drive:

Tip Sheets and Tutorials: 


Additional Projects: 

Our main efforts are focused on the oral histories for consistency and ease across so many disciplines, participants, supervisors and partners. However, some classes/faculty may allow for other forms of data collection and research. These can be included in the overall Humboldt in the Time of COVID project and publications and if you are interested in one of these methodologies or projects - please discuss with your faculty first - prior to reaching out to the contacts listed below. 

Archival Processing and Work: 

Contacts: Carly Marino (Library) 

Art Production/Collection: 

Producing or Collecting Art 



Submit or collect autoethnographies

Contact: Gordon Ulmer (Anthropology)


Class/Group Research Projects: 

Independently designed by your faculty, these can include a combination of primary or secondary research, data collection and analysis. IRB approval may be needed of activities outside oral histories or auto-ethnographies. 

Survey Projects: 

IRB Submissions, Survey Design, etc… 

Contacts: Loren Collins (CCBL - PSCI), Karen August (SOC)

Video Documentary Project:

Participate in helping create a video documentary both on this project as it happens and overall effects of COVID-19 on Humboldt County.

Contacts: Vicky Sama (JMC), Michelle Cartier (Film)

General Student Support

Contact: Kelly Fortner, Student Support Coordinator with the Center for Community Based Learning