After Rachel Sposato created a Web site on the genocide killings in Darfur, Sudan, for a class in fall 2004, she didn't think much of it. But it turns out the site had much farther reachings than just her World Politics class, taught by Vincent Ferraro, Ruth Lawson Professor of International Politics.
Sposato recently received an email from the Library of Congress seeking permission to include her Web site in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the crisis in Darfur for the African Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division of the United States Library of Congress.
The class assignment was to create a Web site of personal interest dealing with a problem outside America that the student felt deserved attention. Sposato said she was struggling with finding a topic when she came across an article in Timemagazine about the killings in Darfur. "Up until that point, I knew very little about the happenings in Sudan. As soon as I read the article, I immediately knew this was the perfect topic for my Web site. The number of people who have been killed, how they've been killed, the loss of homes and communities, and the length of time this has been going on shocked me. I was even more shocked to learn how little attention was being spent on this issue."
After receiving the news, Sposato is now back to researching and updating her Web site and is in contact with the Red Cross to try to set up a donation system for victims in Darfur.
"Rachel's accomplishment is truly inspiring," Ferraro said. He asks the students to build Web sites so they can share their insights with a much broader audience. "The assignment is quite different from the traditional exam or paper in the social sciences, calling upon a different set of skills, a completely different approach to communicating information, and a sense of the aesthetic usually absent in a written paper."
Sposato said the experience showed how something started in academia can expand your borders and horizons. "Without taking such a wonderfully insightful class, I would have never been as involved and concerned about the happenings in Darfur, Sudan, as I am today. And I am thankful for that opportunity," she said.
The Library of Congress preserves the nation's cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. According to the library, its traditional functions--acquiring, cataloging, preserving, and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people in order to foster education and scholarship--extend to digital materials, including Web sites.