Wooster student recognized for expanding coverage of Latin American topics on Wikipedia

Emma Schell ’23

College of Wooster junior Emma Schell ’23 recently received recognition from Wiki Education for her work to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of Latin American topics through the organization’s Wikipedia Student Program. Through courses she completed with Katie Holt, associate professor of history, Latin American studies, and global and international studies at Wooster, Schell worked on multiple articles on the site that reflected her interests as well as her desire to develop her skills in non-argumentative communication and digital media.

“My favorite part about writing for Wikipedia was writing factually,” Schell told Wiki Education. “Although this was hard to do sometimes, especially for interpreting artworks, I feel like it improved my academic communication skills, which is useful as someone who hopes to pursue scientific research after graduating college.”

Schell, a chemistry major with minors in Spanish and Latin American studies, values the liberal arts education at Wooster for encouraging her to explore her interests and make connections across disciplines. “Taking humanities classes allows me to gain more insights into what other cultures value. I find my minors in Spanish and Latin American studies to be particularly useful in this sense because my mother’s family is Latin American, but I have never been to Latin America; specifically, learning about Latin American cultures has helped me better understand my family’s history.” Further, she sees this experience adding to her knowledge and critical thinking for her chosen field. “The cultural and linguistic knowledge I have learned in my Spanish and Latin American Studies minors could help in international communication if I were to work in chemistry research after college,” she added.

The articles Schell contributed to on Wikipedia included “The Two Fridas,” an oil painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s and another on Afro-Cuban artist Wifredo Lam as part of her first history class in modern Latin America. She also expanded on an article about the Tz’utujil people, an Indigenous group in Guatemala, for her Latin American Revolutions class with Holt. “Indigenous people are underrepresented in the media, even though they make up a significant portion of the Latin American population,” Emma explained. The article expanded on the information about the group’s history and religion.

Introduced to the Wikipedia Student program through a professional development program on teaching with technology led by Jon Breitenbucher, Wooster’s director of educational technology, Holt finds Wikipedia provides extensive tutorials and support for her students. “I use Wikipedia in a lot of my classes because I think it is a very impactful way for Wooster students to share their research with a wide audience and improve coverage of underrepresented topics,” she said. She’s continuing to work with the program for a course on the history of Latino immigration to the U.S. “My students are incorporating quantitative evidence to strengthen some of Wikipedia’s immigration articles while they build their quantitative literacy and communication skills.”

Published on March 8, 2022.

Posted in Experiential Learning on March 8, 2022.

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