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What Matters Now? CUNY Teaches Living History

APR 21, 2021 | 4:00 PM TO 5:00 PM



Online Event


April 21, 2021: 4:00 PM-5:00 PM







CUNY faculty respond to the pandemic by creating a curriculum around the effects of Covid-19 and teaching it in their current courses.
with Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum and George W. Contreras

This is an online event. Please register online to participate via Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Social and political movements of the past have given passage to crucial gains in the call for civil rights, justice, and equality. But might there be a need for inspired individualism and grassroots organizing, that reinforces a sustained level of activism? What Matters Now? asks us to consider the forms of transformative activism necessary in the present that engage daily life, the wellbeing of humanity, the environment, and a democratic society.

Dr. Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum is Chair of the Department of Africana Studies and former Director of Women’s & Gender Studies at Lehman College, City University of New York.  Her scholarly interests are in African and Diasporan cultural studies, with a focus on gender issues in local and global dimensions.  Her current research explores African women's verbal art and knowledge production; Africana women's movements: from local organizing to global networking for social change; gender construction in language and society: from oral traditions to integration of African indigenous knowledge systems into global academic agendas and discourses.  Her recent publications include “Embodying African Women’s Epistemology”, Writing through the Visual/Virtual:  Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean, “Negritude”, Africana Age: African and African American Transformations in the Twentieth Century, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “Women’s Human Rights”, Gale Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender,  “The Yum: A Model of Sustainable Development”, African Gender Studies: A Reader, “Cultural Construction of Gender in African Oral Tradition: Images of Women in the Basaá Epic”, Women’s Studies Review, The Role of Women in World Peace & the Role of Men and Boys in gender Equity, “Translating the Basaa Oral Epic Bon ba Hiton”, Metamorphoses, Journal of Literary Translation, and  “Celebrating the Heroic Life of an African Warrior Queen, A Hundred Years Later: Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother of the Asante Empire”, Women’s Studies Review. Dr. Ngo-Ngijol Banoum serves on the Advisory Board of Irinkerindo: A Journal of African Migration at [] and is affiliated with many professional organizations including the African Studies Association (ASA) and the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).  She holds a B.A., Université de Yaoundé, Cameroun; an M.Litt., University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and a Ph.D., University of Essex, England. 

George W. Contreras, DrPH(c), MEP, MPH, MS, CEM, is an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department Security, Fire and Emergency Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, serves as Assistant Director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at New York Medical College, Assistant Professor at The Institute of Public Health in the School of Health Sciences and Practice and Assistant Director of the Advanced Certificate in Emergency Management. Prior to his current role, he served as tenured Associate Professor and Director of Allied Health at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, the largest urban public education system in the United States. Under his leadership, he created and implemented the first college-based paramedic program in Brooklyn, New York, which received national accreditation in March 2017- the highest honor for a college-based paramedic program, and the first associate-degree Polysomnographic Technology Program in New York City which also received initial national accreditation in July 2018.  He is also adjunct faculty at Metropolitan College of New York’s (MCNY) Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Emergency and Disaster Management since 2004. He has authored and co-authored several articles, book chapters and manuals on topics such as emergency medical services, curriculum development, mental and public health, and disaster management. Professor Contreras has actively participated in various disasters in New York City and abroad including the 1993 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the TWA 800 plane crash, Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the historic snowstorm in January 2016, and the September 11th terrorist attacks. On September 11th 2001, he worked as a paramedic at Ground Zero and was fortunate enough to survive as the second tower collapsed. He lost many colleagues that tragic day and hopes that we can all learn from our actions moving forward.