Communicating American cultures with dynamic student projects

Since we started working with UC Berkeley students and instructors in 2010, they’ve added more than 1 million words to Wikipedia. From updating the article about carbon capture and storage in Mexico to creating a new article about lesbian bars, Berkeley students have been behind the helm. As a graduate of UC Berkeley myself, I know that they are a public institution committed to growing and communicating academic research to the world. That’s why on Wednesday, I was so excited to meet with new instructors and librarians on campus to continue to expand that effort and highlight how students in their upcoming courses could update and improve Wikipedia’s coverage of academic content.

We were invited to campus by the American Cultures Center, who are committed to fostering academic excellence and civic engagement around issues critical to America’s dynamic ethnic, racial, and sociocultural landscape — a mission Wiki Education wholeheartedly supports. Unfortunately though, the depth and breadth of information on Wikipedia in those areas is lacking. Wikipedia’s list of featured articles, for example, includes hundreds that cover military history, music, media, sports, and video games content, but significantly less about politically relevant topics.

Lucky for us, the American Cultures Center has a set of engaged scholarship courses that take the study of important issues even farther than the classroom, aiming to provide opportunities for students to participate in collaborative social justice projects alongside community organizations like Wiki Education. At our workshop, I met with instructors teaching in global studies, cultural anthropology, environmental design, and bioengineering among others, with courses primed and ready to participate in this initiative.

One instructor asked about the review process for contributing content on Wikipedia — “who approves that work?” — while others asked how to start conversations with their students in regard to evaluating the sourcing on Wikipedia. And that’s the beauty of Wiki Education’s suite of educational tools and resources: We provide the scaffolding for instructors and students to accomplish this amazing work. Technically, no one has to approve any contributions on Wikipedia. It truly is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. However, Wiki Education provides assignment templates, online trainings, and support resources so that students are able to evaluate Wikipedia articles, select appropriate peer reviewed sources, and draft high quality contributions, all with the goal of moving that work live into the world’s largest free information resource.

We are excited to continue growing our support of American Cultures courses and hope you’ll join us in our efforts. To learn more about our work, please contact us at


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