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Our Daily Work / Our Daily Lives Program

UOE Contact:

C. Kurt Dewhurst

Director, Arts and Cultural Initiatives
Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Michigan State University Museum
Professor, Department of English
University Outreach and Engagement Campus Senior Fellow

Arts and Cultural Initiatives

The Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives program is a cooperative project that focuses on the cultural traditions of workers, workplaces as contexts for the expression of workers’ culture, and the diversity of historical and artistic presentations of workers’ lives.

For nearly two decades Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives has explored and presented the richness and diversity of worker experience and culture through a wide spectrum of avenues and activities. The Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives brown bag lecture series has featured over 150 presentations in which MSU faculty and off-campus presenters focus on the diversity of worker experience and worker culture across the boundaries of occupation, gender, ethnicity, age, region, nation, and time. Other program presentations have included poetry and fiction readings, film openings, and concerts. One of the most visible of these activities has been a range of campus and community exhibitions.

Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives has been described as a program designed to transform the perceptions and understanding of the greater institution and our student community by establishing a forum for understanding the diversity of people in our daily lives. It celebrates diversity through an understanding of the richness and value diversity adds to our lives. The program was recognized in 2003 with a Michigan State University Diversity team award for “Sustained Effort Toward Excellence in Diversity.”

The Michigan State University Museum’s Traditional Arts Program has developed the Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives Collection, which features traditional artistic expressions related to the work experience. The collection also includes oral histories, photographic holdings, documentary accounts of worker artists, occupational cultural resources, and work related sound recordings of music and song. The Museum presents worker artists and occupational culture at the annual Great Lakes Folk Festival in the City of East Lansing, produced by the MSU Museum.


Partners:

  • MSU Museum
  • Labor Education Program, MSU School of Human Resources and Labor Relations
  • Old Town Association, Lansing; and MSU and local unions

Funders:

  • Annual contributions from the campus and community advisory councils as well as individual donors. John Beck and C. Kurt Dewhurst also support the MSU Museum’s programming/collection development. Planned gifts have been made to establish an ODW/ODL Program Endowment at the MSU Museum.