Design for storytelling: Building a platform for sharing the lived experiences of race at a PWI

Can technology help predominantly white institutions reckon with their racial histories in a just and equitable way? We attempted this with Lived Experiences: Race at Miami University — an online collaborative storytelling project that chronicles the history of racial dynamics at Miami University of Ohio.

Lived Experiences is a media-rich website that brings together oral histories, documentaries and archival documents from and about Black alumni, students, faculty and staff at a predominantly white institution. Our presentation will discuss how the university libraries created this diversity-focused website to showcase people’s stories. We will address curatorial, design and technical aspects of the project.

The website design team collaborated closely with the Lived Experiences project team to create an engaging interface focused on storytelling and centering Black experiences, while also supporting a complex data structure and scalability for future expansion of the projects. We will share how our front-end design choices supported these goals. We will also discuss the back-end content management system that will allow us to scale up for future projects, and repurpose the content in other ways such as student-led research or mobile app development.


  • Alia Levar Wegner — Miami University Libraries
  • Ken Irwin — Miami University-Oxford
  • Jerry Yarnetsky — Miami University Libraries
  • Jacqueline Johnson — Miami University

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