URAP 2013-2014: Working for Dignity

Strawberry Pickers, Central Coast, CA. Photo by Catherine S. Ramírez.

Over 2013-14, the CLRC realized our Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program by collaborating with UC Santa Cruz's Center for Labor Studies and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. on "Working for Dignity," a study of low-wage workers in Santa Cruz County.  Under the supervision of Professor Steve McKay (Sociology) and Professor Shannon Gleeson (Latin American and Latino Studies), Ruben Espinoza, CLRC Graduate Student Researcher, worked closely with 24 research apprentices, many of whom did research for the first time.  In addition to sharing his expertise on labor with them, Ruben, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology, trained them in survey and interview methods and showed them how to find and use important background information, like demographic and cost-of-living data.  Research apprentices gained insight into how scholars formulate a research question, design a survey instrument, put primary and secondary sources in dialogue with one another, and acquire essential institutional review board approval.  Above all, they saw first-hand how social actors both within and beyond the University produce knowledge and work together to improve society.  

The essential research CLRC research apprentices did helped lead to a 2014-15 Engaging Humanities Public Humanities Project Grant for the CLRC, Center for Labor Studies, and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. from the University of California Humanities Research Institute.  In May of 2015, Professor McKay and the Center for Labor Studies announced their findings at a public event at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and launched the Working for Dignity project, a valuable resource for workers in Santa Cruz County and anyone with an interest in labor and social justice.