Our Working Lives Project | May 4, 2018 | By: Jessica Becker
By Carmelo Davila, Working Lives Project Director, and Jessica Becker
How will technological advancement and automation impact jobs in the U.S. and abroad?
“Will a robot take my job?” and other concerns about how technology is affecting the workplace are part of ongoing speculation about what the future of work will be for each of us. This is a complicated issue. It is not enough to hear from computer scientists, engineers, economists, or policy makers. As humans living through changes and preparing for more, we can look to the humanities to draw from historical, philosophical, and ethical sources to develop our own understanding of these changes.
The Working Lives Project is the WHC’s multi-year effort to spark thoughtful discussion about issues facing working people in our state now and into the future. A humanities approach is inclusive, reflective, and takes into consideration how Wisconsinites individually and collectively are ‘making a living and making a life’ through their work.
Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | February 23, 2018 | By: Jessica Becker
News articles, studies, and personal experience together paint a complex picture of women’s lives in 2018. Women face unique obstacles in their lives and careers. They are also leading the way, redefining the norms, taking risks and confidently re-imagining the world.
Both modern and historical factors shape the ongoing conversation about women’s working lives. All of us are affected, no matter our gender.
And that is where ShopTalk comes in. Read More
Our Working Lives Project, Voices from the Field | October 12, 2017 | By: Guest Contributor
By Alison Staudinger
Why do you work?
How can a daily activity like work be both the worst and the best of life? Perhaps it is in part because humans have come to expect meaning from their work, in addition to material or social benefits. To understand this development, the humanities offer a unique lens. They offer records of the everyday and methods to study them.
Our Working Lives Project | January 12, 2017 | By: Guest Contributor
by Katherine Sanders, PhD
The New Year is a season of promises. Many of us pledge to make improvements in our lives. And, of course, many of our promises are about health. (I’m procrastinating even as I write this – I should be on my way to the gym!)
Your health promises might be like mine, focused on something you know directly impacts your well-being, such as what you eat and how often you move.
But there is another area of life that also has a direct impact on health – work. Most of us spend the majority of our waking lives working. That work experience shapes our mental and physical health. It either supports or erodes our self-esteem and sense of belonging. If you’ve worked in an unhealthy work system, you’ve lived this. It can be a visceral experience.
What most people don’t realize is that we can design work to promote health. There are decades of research on work’s impact on health. We know how. So when the WHC invited me to refresh this article from last year, I jumped at the chance. I’m eager to reach as many people as I can with this message: Work can be healthy for you. And you deserve healthy work.
It’s been a pleasure to be part of the Shop Talk speaker series. I’ve enjoyed talking with people from diverse professions and career stages. What unites us is our interest in creating healthier working lives for ourselves and our colleagues.
What would 2017 be like for you if one of your resolutions was to increase the health of your working life? Read More
Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | November 17, 2016 | By: Dena Wortzel
What is it like to be a cop, and black?
When a white state trooper pulled over a black off-duty Madison police officer, Corey Saffold, what did the trooper assume about the man with dreadlocks and a gun – officer Saffold’s service pistol – on the passenger seat? What did the trooper do next? Read More
Our Working Lives Project, Voices from the Field | October 6, 2016 | By: Jessica Becker
Here on Humanities Booyah, we curate a mix of voices and ideas. Our interests are eclectic. We are just as interested in hearing from museum directors with tips for reaching out to new audiences as we are in learning about nearly-forgotten Wisconsin authors and their once-famous books.
Our all-time most popular article, however, stands out for being different. “In My Experience: The Work of a Medical Transcriptionist” is a personal story shared with us by a woman named Sue in Menomonee Falls. We had just launched our Working Lives Project when Sue contacted us in response to hearing our director, Dena Wortzel, challenge us to reflect on the unseen work — and workers — all around us. Sue knew too well what being unseen can mean. Read More
Our Working Lives Project | May 12, 2016 | By: Carmelo Dávila
The painting is used with permission from The Grohmann Museum Collection at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Painting by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, the younger; German (1781-1853); Entitled ‘Cooper Shop,’ ca.1816; Oil on canvas; 16 3/4 x 21 3/4 in.
by Carmelo Dávila
“A mother’s work is never done.”
Whether you are a mother or not, you have certainly heard some of the many expressions about the work of motherhood. They point to the complexity of the ‘job’ and allude to the lack of recognition for this work in society.
May is the month when Mother’s Day is celebrated, so as part of our ongoing fascination with, and examination of, the subject of work, we turn our humanities lens on the work of motherhood. ShopTalk presentations such as ‘Workplace Equity for Mothers’ and ‘Work-Life Balance: Is it an Option for Mothers?’ provide some historical and modern context within which to think about and discuss what mothering entails. We hope you will consider hosting one of these, or any of the more than forty ShopTalk presentations, in your community! Read More
Our Working Lives Project | April 28, 2016 | By: Guest Contributor
A collection of murals and signs on view at the Madison Labor Temple during the Black Workers Forum. Photos by Faron Levesque.
Work is something we all do, like sleeping and eating, in our own way. Work can be very personal, but none of us works in a vacuum. Life is work, and work connects to everything else.
This week, Faron Levesque, a PhD candidate in the History Department at UW-Madison, gives us her thoughts on the subject. She specializes in social movements and the cultural history of gender. As such, she sees the connection between work and current social movements that address inequities in housing, debt, education, incarceration, healthcare….and more. Read More
Our Working Lives Project, Voices from the Field | October 21, 2015 | By: Guest Contributor
Katherine Sanders is a human factors engineer. She specializes in sociotechnical systems, essentially what makes work meaningful and healthy for people. She explains, “It’s a small, specialized field that most folks, even other engineers, have never heard of.” We met Katherine as part of our Working Lives Project. She runs workshops and consults in workplaces to help organizations and individuals learn how work either supports health or leads people toward illness. Ergonomics is part of her background, the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. But instead of designing physical work places or products, she focuses on the psychological and social aspects of work, and the impacts work has on personal health. She is passionate about what she does: “I care about how the work gets done and its quality, and I care just as much about the health and well-being of the people doing the work.”
In this essay, Katherine gives us a glimpse into her world, what motivates her, and her Top 5 list for creating work systems that promote health and meaning, as well as productivity and efficiency. Read More
Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | July 29, 2015 | By: Jessica Becker
[F]ishermen and boats were integrated together, for good and for ill. Boats were humane tools for fisherman. They were work partners; highly esteemed, sometimes loathed, but always talked about. Tremendous care, thought, and craftsmanship went into these small boats.”
–Tim Chochrane, A Good Boat Speaks for Itself
The Bayfield Maritime Museum is an all-volunteer organization in a town of 488 people. The mission of the museum is to preserve, interpret, and present artifacts that portray the dynamic nautical history of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. If you go to the museum this summer as one of the 432,000 visitors who flock north on Highway 13, you may find a pop-up tent on S. 1st Street along the waterfront. Inside you’ll find volunteers and visitors alike invited to drill a hole, spile a line, or plane a board smooth.
Starting last summer, crowds have been gathering under the tent for boat building lessons and demonstrations. People are encouraged to engage with the builders, who have both a professional and historic understanding of fishing and boats on the Big Lake.
The boat under construction has been named the Cubby Lebel Skiff. Read More