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Ways of Knowing

Sample Prompt

Doing background research is especially important for students writing the Experiential Paper

Experiential Paper

Select a person from the list provided. The individual must be a person different from you in their cultural makeup.

  • Sample person: Odette Baptiste, 21, Haiti, 1791

Research the history of the associated group in the designated time period and provide a factual history of their country and current events for the time period in your own words, integrating source material when appropriate.

Create a fictional narrative of this person based on actual facts, illuminating the events and conditions that caused the person to experience extreme hardship, leave their country of origin, go into hiding, become a refugee, or seek asylum in the United States or elsewhere.

Please refer to the Nest for more details about the assignment.

Encylcopedias & Newspapers

One very easy way to start your research is to look in an encyclopedia that will provide an overview of basic background information on a topic

Wikipedia is an excellent place to get background information. See the WIKIPEDIA guide for more.

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Locating information requires a combination of inquiry, discovery, and serendipity. There is no one size fits all source to find the needed information. Information discovery is nonlinear and iterative, requiring the use of abroad range of information sources and flexibility to pursuit alternate avenues as new understanding is developed. Depending on the information need and context, the learner may need to consult a variety of resources ranging from databases and books to observations and interviews.


Timelines are another way to contextualize history.

OwlCat Search Box

Books in the Otis College Library

There are books which you can browse which will be extremely helpful to you in learning about the cultural, social, and historical context of a particular time or period.

Otis College of Art and Design | 9045 Lincoln Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90045 | MyOtis

Millard Sheets Library | MyOtis | 310-665-6930 | Ask a Librarian