Halfway through our spring 2020 semester, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Western Kentucky University extended spring break, transitioned classes to online and alternative platforms, moved students out of dorms, canceled all unncessary travel, brought home students from study abroad experiences, and suspended all research involving direct human contact. As the semester progressed, and in light of Governor Andy Beshear's directives, all non-life-sustaining businesses to in-person traffic were closed down, including our campus. Students, staff, and faculty were asked to complete our semester while sheltering in our homes.

Up to that point in the semester, the students in the Ethnographic Visual Production course had designed three independent research projects, submitted and received approval from WKU's Institutional Review Board to conduct human subjects research, identified key informants and research partipants, began audio-video technical training, and crafted photo-essays for their projects. The students were expected to master audio-visual technology, shoot participant observation footage, conduct semi-structured interviews with their research participants, develop a storyboard, and ultimately craft a short visual ethnography by semester's end, similar to previous semester's outcomes.

Given our inability to continue the intended research, we developed a new plan for our class. With support from the WKU Archives and WKU historian Dr. David Lee, what you see below is the re-tooling of our course in an effort to contribute an oral history, reflecting student experiences during the pandemic. Each student crafted a new project plan for the semester, based on a set of shared COVID-19 related research questions, skill-set development goals, and individual preference. This is a curated online exhibition, with the totality of the materials available at the WKU Archives. Please explore the finished media below.


Submissions from Week 15


Multimodal Reflections II - Samuel Kendrick - Week 15, Samuel Kendrick

Multimodal Reflections IV- Ariana Pedigo - Week 15, Ariana Pedigo