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San Diego State University

Faculty-Student Mentoring Program

Eric Boime, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History, Imperial Valley Campus

I am a historian of Modern United States History with academic training in the fields of Environmental History, the American West, and the US-Mexico Borderlands. The majority of my publications, including the book I am currently writing, centers on the Colorado River Delta, which includes Imperial County (U.S.A) and Mexicali (Mexico).

 

My research emphasizes the very issues that make the Imperial Valley a place of multi- disciplinary intrigue: regional water politics, immigration, agribusiness, and borderlands relations. The history of delta is transcendentally important to the current allocation of the Colorado River, the lifeline to the American West. To grow and to thrive, SDSU’s Imperial Valley Campus must position itself in the forefront of these issues.

 

The Faculty-Student Mentor Program presents an exciting opportunity to invite exceptional IVC students to participate in this endeavor. Under my mentorship, protégés gain first-hand experience in the production and application of local history and public history.

 

Imperial is statistically the poorest county in the country and it has many institutional limitations for aspiring scholars. Local studies, however, are an especially vital means to offset these limitations. In my own classes, I encourage students to think critically about their immediate surroundings not only to understand their own relation to regional and global events, but to teach them requisite preparatory skills for conducting research, gathering documentary evidence, and producing scholarship. Their research paper assignments prod them to examine local archives, visit historical and geographic landmarks, and record oral testimonies.

 

My protégés are expected to meet regularly to discuss the current historiography of the Colorado River Delta. They are expected to write a scholarly manuscript, based on both secondary and original sources, and to present their findings to SDSU’s Student Research Symposium. In addition, they are encouraged to accompany their fellow mentors on various field trips to local archives, the Salton Sea, the ejidos of Mexicali, and the Hoover Dam (whose political origins can be traced to the development of Imperial and Mexicali).

 

Participation in the FSMP is intended to prepare students for professional careers (by honing their capacities to conduct research, think critically, and write clearly and effectively). It is also intended to help students draw connections between historical memory, self-identity and personal fulfillment. Understanding our linkage to the past is a means to promote engaged citizenry, and, subsequently, a means to shape our obligations to the future.

 

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Eric Boime