The Relevancy & History Project is an innovative public humanities initiative that seeks to highlight the underrepresented histories and voices of California’s diverse communities in order to advance and integrate equity, inclusion, and social justice practices within the interpretive landscape of California State Parks.

This is done by developing and implementing:
   •   critical historical and interdisciplinary research;
   •   culturally relevant and responsive heritage interpretation and preservation;
   •   equity-minded, antiracist, and evidence-based outreach and engagement;
   •   the diversification of personnel, employment pathways, and areas of expertise; and
   •   the cultivation of sustainable partnerships with academic/scholarly institutions and cultural organizations.

As indicated by research from the National Park Service (based on the 2011 report Imperiled Promise) and Parks Forward/Transformation Team findings, there is a need for historians and new historical/interdisciplinary research in parks as a way to equitably engage and include the diverse publics that make up California.

The desired outcomes for underrepresented/underserved populations include:
   •   increased sense of place and belonging;
   •   educational and recreational enrichment opportunities;
   •   volunteer and employment pathways;
   •   preservation of community histories and cultural resources; and 
   •   connecting park resources to community needs.

The integration of the Relevancy & History Project led by the Center for Public and Oral History and the History Department of San Diego State University at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park started in Spring of 2021, and involves much of the same methodologies and frameworks.  Currently, the focus of the project is on documenting the history of the park and its interpretation, suggesting new avenues for interpretation and visitor experiences, enhancing onsite educational offerings, and creating hands-on training and career pipelines for students. To date, close to 50 San Diego State students have participated in some aspect of the project, with several going on to work as summer staff in the park.

With a commitment to equity-oriented practices, bilingual programming, decolonizing frameworks, and anti-racist engagement, the broader impact for all Californians through the Relevancy & History Project is the creation of opportunities that enable fuller, more complex understandings of California’s history and cultural resources as well as opportunities for civic engagement and dialogue.

To learn more about the Relevancy & History Project in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, please contact Dr. David Cline, Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Public and Oral History at San Diego State University, at or 619-594-0476. To learn more about the Relevancy & History Project at California Citrus State Historic Park, please contact Dr. Cathy Gudis, Associate Professor of History, Director of the Public History Program, and Teresa and Byron Pollitt Endowed Term Chair of Interdisciplinary Research and Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences for the University of California, Riverside at or 323-445-9557.