Oral/Public History: Theory and Practice; Urban/Social history—esp deindustrialization and responses to it; industrial heritage as policy domain; urban public history; theory of documentary; implications of new digital methodologies for oral/public history, pedagogy, community-based documentation projects.
My major current focus is on refining through application new digital software approaches for indexing and annotating audio and video documentation. This is at once applied content work and theoretical research on how to explore, access, and utilize the meanings specific to documentary evidence in these media—and what such utilization can mean for historical discourse, both academic and public.
I was involved for many years in development and leadership of UB’s American Studies department, which played a leadership role nationally in the field’s reorientation around multicultural, gender, and global perspectives on US culture and history; I continue to work actively with interdisciplinary students in the successor form of that program, the Center for the Americas. I also have been an active participant and advisory board member of the Law School’s Baldy Center for Law and Policy, and I am a member of the Urban Design Project in the School of Architecture and Planning.
My current work in oral history software development is being carried on through a consulting firm I created, The Randforce Associates, LLC, which is located in the university’s Baird Research Center Technology Incubator.
I am currently a Trustee or Board of Directors member of several organizations, local to national, involved with history and public humanities in a range of dimensions. These include:
I have been active in major professional associations, including the Organization of American Historians (Executive Board, Annual Meeting Program Chair ; the American Studies Association (Council, President [2000-2001]; the American Historical Association (Annual Meeting Program Committee, Task Force on Public History [current]; the Oral History Association (Editor, Oral History Review, 1986-1997); and the National Council on Public History (Editorial Board, The Public Historian [current].