NAU offers program to develop educational curriculum focusing on Route 66 history

Northern Arizona University is offering teachers across the United States a professional development opportunity called “Racialized Spaces on Route 66” which uses the historic road as a foundation to develop curriculum materials embedded in social justice to foster critical thinking in kindergarten through 12th-grade students. 

The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s Research and Education Working Group partnered with NAU in support of the program, which has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Route 66 will be 100 years old in 2026, creating a timely opportunity for teachers to examine a wider narrative of the highway. Route 66 is famous for car cruising, motels, diners and unique attractions. 

Often left out of this story is the history and culture of segregation that framed the experiences of many who lived and traveled along Route 66. 

NAU will offer teachers two hybrid workshop sessions of the “Racialized Spaces” program during the summer months of 2023. Each will consist of an initial online session, followed by a one-week residential workshop in Flagstaff. The program will culminate with a follow-up online session. 

During their week in Flagstaff, teachers will participate in field trips and learn to use oral histories to examine how different racial and ethnic groups served, celebrated and entertained visitors traveling on Route 66.

They will also examine the complexities of Indigenous communities located along the Mother Road, which crosses more than 25 sovereign indigenous nations.

The goal of the “Racialized Spaces on Route 66” program is to help teachers create relevant curricular materials for K-12 students using an inquiry approach designed to examine differing perspectives on geography, history, and cultural aspects of Route 66. 

Go here for workshop details. Teachers may apply for the workshop here before March 3. Financial support is available. Successful applicants will be notified by April 3.

Established in 2016, with the support of the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund, The Road Ahead Partnership’s mission is to revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national and international icon through partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research and education, as well as economic development.

(Screen-capture image from the “Racialized Spaces” webpage of NAU)

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