Since 2008, the American Cultures Student Prize has recognized and celebrated undergraduate achievements within American Cultures courses. The prize is awarded annually to undergraduates for projects they develop in an American Cultures course that promotes understanding of U.S. race, ethnicity, and culture and exemplifies a standard of excellence in scholarship. Prior award-winning submissions have included essays, poetry, films, reflection statements on live performances, among other work produced for American Cultures courses.
2020 Recipients of the American Cultures Student Prize
Submission: "Healing Through Language: Revitalization in the Wendat Confederacy”
AC Course: History 135B, “Encounter & Conquest in Indigenous America”
Course Instructor: Brian DeLay
Fallon's submission examines the history of language revitalization in the Wendat Confederacy, an Indigenous group that spans North America with nations in Québec, Ontario/Michigan, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Her project started in an American Cultures course and culminated in years of library research at UC Berkeley and field research in the Wendat Confederacy in Oklahoma, Toronto, and Québec. During her field visits, Fallon conducted oral history interviews and partook in lessons in Waⁿdat and Wendat, the two languages of the Wendat Confederacy. Among other things, Fallon's project argues how small shifts in language can powerfully transform who feels heard and, thus, empowered to speak.
Read "Healing Through Language"
AC Course: Engineering / International & Area Studies 157AC, “Engineering, Environment, and Society”
Course Instructor: Khalid Kadir
What was once an abandoned railroad line in Richmond, CA is now a beautiful stretch of walking path decorated with gardens, murals, and parks. Richmond's Greenway is a testament to the city’s rich history of community organizing, as it takes a sustained collaborative effort between the City of Richmond, over 17 nonprofit organizations, and community members to maintain it. In his film, Jed Lee documents how the Greenway was born from community grassroots organizing, and the knowledge and collective memory of community members that have contributed to its development.
Submission: “Three Records”
AC Course: English 135AC, “Race, Class & Disability: An American Foundling Museum"
Course Instructor: Susan Schweik
"Three Records“ consists of three musical and historical records. These records depict and document the challenges, adaptations, and triumphs faced by Shubha’s family in retaining their Indian cultural heritage throughout a shift from living in India to living in the United States. The shift in location as well as the increasing modern digital interconnectivity of the world has meant that each generation has grown up with vastly different cultural and social influences. However, all three generations have found the means to reconnect and retain Indian culture through their shared love of veena, an Indian classical instrument.
Submission Title: “Songs from the Flood”
AC Course: Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management 50AC, “Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management”
Course Instructor: Kenneth Worthy
“Songs from the Flood” is an audio essay charting the history of two songs written about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, Memphis Minnie & “Kansas Joe” McCoy’s “When the Levee Breaks” (1929) and Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927” (1974). Will examines subsequent versions of these songs—Led Zeppelin’s version of “When the Levee Breaks” (1971) and John Boutté’s performance of “Louisiana 1927” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2006)—and considers what cross-cultural connections these songs might foster between peoples and across time
Listen to "Songs from the Flood"