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Fall 2017 Course Offerings

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

11:45-1:45

Chen: Soc.  84700
Organizations, Markets, & the State

Jasper: Soc.  84600
Social Movements



 

Kasinitz: Soc.  85800
Race & Ethnicity
 
 
See Also: DCP 70100. Introduction to Demography 

2:00-4:00


 
 

Lennon: Soc. 70000
Proseminar 
 
Torpey: Soc. 83101
Populism, Authoritarianism, & Dictatorship

Alba: Soc.81900
Quantitative Reasoning in the Study of Ethnicity, Race, & Migration
(Qualify for Methods requirement)

Wrigley: Soc. 70100 
Development of Sociological Theory
(Theory I) 
 

4:15-6:15

Balk: Soc. 72200
Population Dynamics and Climate Change

Battle: Soc. 83300
Family

Lazreg: Soc. 80000
Foucault, Bourdieu, & Baudrillard: Power, Culture and Social Change

Adamczyk: Soc. 83000
Religion, Morality, & Crime in Global Perspective

Gornick: Soc. 84700
Women, Work, and Public Policy

McCall: Soc.71500 
Sociological Statistic I
   
Mollenkopf: Soc.82800 
Politics, & Government of New York City

Smith: Soc.81200 
Ethnography & Methods
(Qualify for Methods requirement)

Kirschner/Barabino: Soc. 84503
Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy

Helmreich: Soc. 82301
The Sociology of  New York City
 
Horiuchi: Soc. 81900
Advanced Methods of Demographic Analysis
(Qualify for Methods requirement)
See Also
IDS 81620: Undocumented, Illegal, Citizen: The Politics and Psychology of Belonging in the United States

6:30-8:30  

Halle: Soc. 86800
Sociology of Culture

Porter: Soc.81900
Spatial Data Analysis
(Qualify for Methods requirement)
(Brooklyn College 6:30 – 9pm)

Bologh: Soc. 74600
Political Economy & Social Change

Hammond: Soc. 85909
Social Inequality in Latin America

Milanovic: Soc. 84600 
Historical Income Inequality: From Rome to Global Inequality 

Min: Soc.82800 
Asian Americans 


Descriptions
Prof. Amy Adamczyk - adamczykamy@gmail.com
Soc. 83000 – Religion, Morality, and Crime in Global Perspective
Tuesdays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

In this seminar students will examine the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between religion and attitudes and behaviors that may be seen as deviant, moral, or illegal. Books by Cavanaugh (2009), Hinnells and King (2007), and Stark and Bainbridge (1996) will help provide the theoretical foundation for this course.  Empirical studies will lay the ground work for discussions of how the relationship is typically understood and assessed. The course will not only focus on the role of religion in shaping attitudes and behaviors, but also how engagement in criminal and deviant behaviors may shape religious beliefs in settings such as prisons and rehabilitation programs. we will examine a variety of different regions and religions to understand how and when there is likely to be a relationship between religion, morality, and crime, when the relationship may be the result of other processes, and how the influence of religion on some behaviors (e.g., terrorism, stealing) or attitudes (e.g., homosexuality, premarital sex) may differ across religions and regions of the world. The development of this seminar is being supported with a grant from the Global Religion Research Initiative.

Prof. Richard Alba – ralba@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 81900 – Quantitative reasoning in the Study
of Ethnicity, Race, & Migration
Wednesdays, 2 - 4pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

 
This course will focus on the practices and logics of contemporary quantitative analysis in the study of immigration and ethnicity/race.  We will study some of the major quantitative techniques (e.g., logistic regression, event-history analysis) and examine their applications in recent published research.  Exercises in applying the techniques also will be a regular feature of the course.  One emphasis will be on a critical examination of the logics behind contemporary quantitative practices and the substantive inferences to which they lead.  The goal of the course will be a sophisticated understanding of quantitative analysis, useful whether one is a consumer of quantitative research or producer of it.‚Äč

Prof. Juan Battle -  jbattle@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 83300 - Family
Mondays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

 
This course will examine the history of (U.S.) families from the 19th century to today. Particular attention will focus on: (a) the influence of marriage and changes in family organization over time; (b) family experiences; and (c) diversity in contemporary families. Sociological theories and methods used to study and understand families, including theories of gender and sexualities, will also be discussed. 

Prof. Marnia Lazreg -  marniaster@gmail.com
Soc. 80000 Foucault, Bourdieu and Baudrillard:  Power, Culture and Social Change
Mondays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits


Like Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu as well as Jean Baudrillard addressed issues pertaining to the transformations of French-qua-Western culture.  Yet they also sought, directly or indirectly, to distinguish their sociology from Foucault's social philosophy.  In 1977 Jean Baudrillard wrote that Foucault's conception of power is a "mythic discourse" rather than a discourse that purportedly reveals the truth about the nature of power relations.  In 1968, Bourdieu, a one-time former student of Foucault, turned Foucault’s question "What is an Author?" into "How to read an Author." However, Baudrillard also shared with Foucault a rejection of the core concepts of Cartesian rationalism and a "poststructuralist" orientation, while Bourdieu intended to stake out a sociological perspective that incorporated a number of Foucault's critical theoretical insights.  What historical, philosophical, political and biographical factors account for these French sociologists' mixture of reticent admiration for, and skepticism about Foucault's ideas and political engagements?  Did they resolve the ambiguities and antinomies present in Foucault's theoretical orientation and methodology? To what extent sociology transforms or is transformed by Foucault’s social philosophy?

Using methods borrowed from the history of ideas as well as the sociology of knowledge, this course examines Bourdieu and Baudrillard's efforts to build a critical sociology with practical applications for social change as they grapple with Foucault's conceptual innovations. Special attention will be given to the meanings and articulations of key concepts and issues, including structure and event/history; language, rules and discourse; power and subjectivation; body, sex/sexuality and gender; biopolitics and liberalism; revolution and political spirituality; security/war and self-defense.  The course will further examine the concrete socio-political activities in which each author engaged as a result of his theoretical commitment.  

Although students are encouraged to read each author’s seminal works, special attention will be given to Foucault's Lectures at the College de France in addition to the Order of Things, and Madness and Civilization; Bourdieu's Pascalian Meditations, Practical Reason, Acts of Resistance, and Masculine Domination; Baudrillard's Seduction, Simulacra and Simulation, Symbolic Exchange and Death.

Students are expected to immerse themselves in the works of these authors, and write a paper focusing on three critical issues with which one of them grappled. Selecting current socio-political events or issues as testing ground for the three theorists' ideas is also encouraged. The paper will be elaborated in stages to be discussed in class until its completion.

Prof Katherine K. Chen – kchen@ccny.cuny.edu
Soc. 84700 – Organizations, Markets, and the State
Mondays, 11:45 – 1:45pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

Organizations are one of the main "building blocks" of contemporary society.  Despite their central role in shaping our experiences from education to the workplace to governance, these actors and their form of collective action are often overlooked or taken-for-granted among researchers and laypersons.  In this course, participants will learn why organizations form, how they develop, and how they can exacerbate inequality or improve people's life chances.  Participants will also discuss how organizations intertwine with the state and the market, and how these relations affect possibilities for action.  The course content will cover a variety of organizations, from conventional bureaucracies to alternative, democratic organizations.  Theories studied will include classics, as well as cutting edge synthetic work like Strategic Action Fields (SAFs). 

This course supports extending substantive knowledge, including preparing for comprehensives, widening cross-over expertise in a substantive area (i.e. social movements, urban sociology, stratification, etc.), designing and carrying out research, and promoting professional development.  One of the course's aims includes developing a community of supportive scholars for emerging research.

Course Objectives

This course is an introduction to the study of organizations and the larger environment in which they are embedded.  This course has two main objectives.  First, this course examines the literature on formal organizations.  Second, this course prepares students to undertake research and critical analyses of organizations.  To accomplish these objectives, course readings include both an overview of major theoretical perspectives, as well as excerpts of primary research.  In addition, the class will discuss strategies for conducting organizational research.  Depending on students' prior level of preparation and interest, students will draft a research proposal and/or conduct a research project. 

 
We will cover a variety of issues: Why do people create organizations instead of relying upon markets (i.e., contracts) or informal arrangements?  How are decisions made, and who makes these decisions?  Who holds power within and between organizations?  How can we make organizations more “effective”?  Who benefits from organizations?  How does participation in an organization affect the goals of the individual members?  How do environments influence organizations?  How do relations with the state constrain or support organizations?  To help answer these questions, we will apply various perspectives and examine past and contemporary studies.

Prof. Roslyn Bologh - Roslyn.Bologh@csi.cuny.edu
Soc. 74600 – Political Economy & Social Change
Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30pm, Room TBA, 3 credits


Political economy causes social changes that have major consequences for social life – including education, urban life, family life, immigration, ethnic and race relations, and gender relations as well as international relations.  The enormous success of Thomas Piketty's book on income inequality, Capital in the Twenty First Century, and the cross-disciplinary, international, academic and lay interest and acclaim it has garnered, speak to the significance of political economy.  Part of the appeal of Piketty's book lies in his emphatic rejection of the narrow economistic approach to questions of political economy that he encountered in the U.S. and his espousal, in its stead, of a more comprehensive, sociological, cultural and historical perspective – employing sources as unorthodox as Jane Austen's novels! What are the changes that have occurred in political economy since the 1970s? How should we analyze these changes (sometimes conceived as globalization, financial capitalism, monopoly capitalism, neo-liberalism or post-industrial high tech and service economy) and their consequences for social life and politics today and in the coming years?  We will examine different analytic perspectives from Marx to contemporary critical theorists to see which one(s) seem most compelling. An aim of this course is for students (even beginning graduate students) to be able to develop a draft of a publishable article, research proposal or book prospectus.

Prof. Janet Gornick – jgornick@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 84700 - Women, Work, and Public Policy
Tuesday, 4:15pm-6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits


This course will provide an overview of key issues affecting women in the contemporary workplace in the United States and other high-income countries. We will begin with an overview of women's position in the labor market; here we will take a multidimensional approach to capturing gender inequality at work, covering gender gaps in employment rates, in working time, in occupation, and in earnings. We will assess growing class inequalities among women, which have led to polarization in the labor market, especially between women with more and less education. We will consider divisions by race, ethnicity, and nativity, and examine the recent rise of the "precariat" – a segment of the labor force characterized by little or no employment security and few legal protections. We will analyze the ways in which public policies have addressed these issues, and evaluate their impact.
 
The course also examines the effects on women workers – of all classes, races, and ethnic groups, and on immigrants as well as natives – of persistent inequalities in divisions of labor within households. Despite the enormous increase in women's employment rates during the past half century, women continue to carry out the bulk of unpaid work in their homes. Altering these inequalities has proven even more challenging than transforming the structures that shape paid work. We will consider recent research on the effects of "work-family reconciliation policies"– that is, public policies aimed at supporting women (and men) as they balance the responsibilities of paid work and family care. The key question now under consideration is whether some of these policies – e.g., paid family leave, rights to part-time work and flexible scheduling – create new forms of gender inequality. Students will complete weekly reaction papers and a semester-long research project.

Prof. David Halle - dhalle10@gmail.com
Soc. 86800 – Sociology of Culture
Mondays, 6:30 - 8:30pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

 
This course approaches the study of culture via innovative case studies and theoretical thinking. We examine empirically interesting case studies of different aspects of culture, and consider which cultural theories best help us understand each case study and whether, for each case study, new theories are appropriate.  "Culture" is defined here both in the narrow sense as "the arts"—music, literature, journalism, film, television, art (painting, sculpture, etc.), architecture, dance, and so on—and more broadly to include political beliefs, social attitudes, and religious beliefs, and the Internet and social media. 

Prof. Jack Hammond – jhammond@hunter.cuny.edu
Soc. 85909 – Social Inequality in Latin America
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

 
Latin America, historically the world region with the greatest degree of inequality, showed signs of a reversal at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and many economists argued that the trend had finally been broken.  In the last few years, however, the decline in inequality has halted or even reversed in some countries, as the "pink tide" of governments adopting redistributive policies has receded. The optimistic predictions have been called into question.

This course will examine the causes, manifestations, and consequences of inequality in the economic, social, and political spheres.  We will begin with the colonial heritage and examine the developmental phases Latin American countries have traversed (with variations): primary product export; import substitution industrialization; authoritarianism; neoliberalism and globalization. We will look at the consequences of each of these for social inequality.  The political impact of inequality. Popular responses to inequality: reform and resistance. We will evaluate the relative contributions that economic growth, politically progressive governments, targeted redistribution policies, and policies regarding the distribution of opportunities and human capital made to the decline in inequality and consider how changes in these factors may be contributing to the recent turnaround.
 
Course requirements:
1. Regular attendance and participation in discussion
 2. Each week, post on Blackboard a short essay based on that week's required reading, concluding with an analytical question which will be presented to the class for discussion. 
 3. Research paper: Each student's research will be presented orally in the last two weeks of class and then in writing.

Strongly recommended advance reading: Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (if you are registered for the course you can access the full text on the Blackboard page)

Prof. William Helmreich – helmreichw@gmail.com
Soc. 823010 - The Sociology of New York City
Thursdays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits


This course is about the sociology of the Big Apple---all five boroughs. The purpose is to understand the pulse and rhythm of this great city On the trips we will tour the city and walk its streets focusing on the unknown, as in my book, (Princeton U. Press) Meals and transportation are included. Issues focused on include community, immigration, gentrification, spaces, social life, and ethnicity. Selected readings and a paper are the requirements.

Prof. Shiro Hirouchi – shirouchi@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 81900 - Advanced Methods of Demographic Analysis
Thursdays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits
 
In this course we study advanced methods of demographic analysis.  They are widely used in research on mortality, fertility, nuptiality, migration, population composition, and other demographic processes, but many of them can also be applied to a broad range of topics in other areas of the social sciences and biomedical sciences.  Those methods include event history analysis (nonparametric, semi-parametric and parametric versions; continuous and discrete time versions; fixed and time-dependent covariate versions), life table techniques (single-decrement, multiple-decrement and multi-state), decomposition analysis, age-period-cohort models, methods for analyzing multiple time trends (e.g., Lee-Carter model), Lexis map analysis, smoothing and non-parametric regression techniques, and mathematical models of population dynamics.  Computer exercises are included.

Prerequisites:  Introductory statistics including multiple linear regression; DCP 70200 or permission of the instructor.  No background in calculus or matrix algebra is required.

 

Prof. Jim Jasper – jjasper@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 84600 – Social Movements
Tuesdays, 11:45 – 1:45pm, Room TBA, 3 credits


A survey of social movement theory since the 1960s, with special emphasis on recent micro-level research on strategic choice, cultural meanings, emotions, and the construction of players and arenas. We will pay some attention to the gendered nature of each paradigm and its favored exemplar movements.

Prof. Phil Kasinitz – pkasinitz@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 85800 – Race and Ethnicity
Thursdays, 11:45 – 1:45pm, Room TBA, 3 credits
 
Race and ethnicity are constantly changing and evolving, yet they remain among the most persistent forms of structured social inequality. Focusing on the United States, but with reference to other multi-ethnic societies, we will examine the evolution of the concept of "race" and its relationship to racism; the heritage of slavery and segregation and their impacts contemporary life; the origins of modern racism and anti-Semitism, "scientific racism," why and how the salience of ethnic identity increases and decreases at particular historical moments, the relationship of race and ethnicity to migration, nationalism, colonialism and class, the growth of the  Latino and Asian American populations and  what  that  means for American notions  of race, etc.  In addition we will take an in depth look at how racial boundaries change, competition and cooperation between ethnic groups in contemporary America and how "racialized" minorities are (or are not) incorporated into different societies. Readings will include works by W.E.B. Dubois; Jean Paul Sartre, George Fredrickson; William Julius Wilson, David Roediger, John Iceland, Richard  Alba, Tariq Madood, Alejandro Portes, Stephen Steinberg and Mary Waters.

Prof. Branko Milanovic – bmilanovic@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 84600 – Historical Income Inequality: From Rome to Global Inequality
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30pm, Room TBA, 3 credits
 
The objective of the course is to present methodology that is suitable for the study of income inequality historically (in pre-modern and ancient societies), discuss the data sources used, and review the evidence. The standard "apparatus" for the study of inequality needs to be augmented in historical studies by including the Inequality Possibility Frontier, dynamic social tables and using short-cut measures that focus on the differences in average incomes between classes. The course will review the evidence on income distribution in ancient societies, pre-modern Europe (Byzantium, Italian cities,  Flanders, Spain) and in the 19th and early 20th century "industrializers" (UK, United States, the Netherlands etc.) and the “less developed” countries (Chile, Brazil, Russia).  Using recent books  by Milanovic ("Global inequality: A new approach for the age of globalization"),  Scheidel ("The great leveler") and Bowles and Fochesato ("Technology, institutions and wealth inequality over 11 millennia") it will discuss forces that historically influenced inequality (wars, civil strife, epidemics, colonialism, population density etc.). The course will end with a historical overview of global inequality, including a brief discussion of global inequality today.

Prof. Jeremy Porter - jporter@brooklyn.cuny.edu
Soc. 81900 – Spatial Analysis of Social Data
Mondays, 6:30 - 9:00 pm, Room Bklyn college, 3 credits

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the spatial analysis of social data have emerged as an essential tool for social science researchers and practitioners. The Spatial Data Analysis course will offer students an opportunity to gain skills in using GIS software to apply spatial analysis techniques to sociologically relevant research questions. The laboratory section of the course will give students the opportunity for hands-on learning in how to use GIS systems to analyze data and produce maps and reports. These laboratory exercises will be designed to increasingly challenge the students to incorporate the analytic skills and techniques they have learned in other courses with the geospatial and spatial statistics techniques commonly used in the analysis of data appropriate for spatial analysis. 

Prof. Mary Clare Lennon – mlennon@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 70000 - Proseminar
Tuesdays, 2-4pm, Room TBA, 3Credits   
 
This course introduces students to some of the major elements involved in the training of scholars in the field of sociology.  We will explore the norms that govern the profession, the aims of sociological research, the process of grant-seeking and grant-writing, the qualities of a good dissertation, expectations about publication, the process of approval for research on human subjects, and other aspects of professional socialization.  In an effort to familiarize you with the kinds of scholarly work and teaching that are done by faculty at CUNY, we will also have a number of presentations by members of the CUNY Sociology faculty. 

Prof. John Torpey – jtorpey@gc.cuny.edu 
Soc. 83101 – Populism, Authoritarianism, and Dictatorship
Tuesdays, 2- 4pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

This course explores the nature and characteristics of populism, authoritarianism, and dictatorship from a comparative and historical perspective.  In an effort to gain clarity about our own situation, the course will set contemporary developments against the background of 20th-century European history as well as the history of populist and authoritarian movements in the Americas.

Prof. Julia Wrigley – jwrigley@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 70100 – Development of Sociological Theory  
Thursdays, 2 - 4pm, Room TBA, 3 credits
 
In this course we will read and discuss the works of the classical theorists, including, particularly, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, to discern their theoretical insights and also to understand how and why they became the great shapers of our field, with their work still influencing contemporary sociologists generations later. We will explore their distinctive ideas about power, unity, and division within societies and how societies change and will also consider the intellectual and historical context in which they developed their work.
 
We will proceed through reading and discussion. To foster lively and informed discussion, each week you will be asked to prepare a question about the readings. The questions will be distributed before the class to stimulate thought in advance.

Prof. Robert Smith – robert.smith@baruch.cuny.edu
Soc. 81200 – Ethnography & Mehtods
Wednesdays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

 
This class will cover ethnography, related methods (e.g interviewing), and case based analysis.  This combination of topics seeks to equip students to be able to generate good research questions and analytical frameworks, design a study that will capture the needed data, and make the case for your project persuasively in a proposal, dissertation or article. We will have sections on how to do, and how to weigh the pros and cons, of various approaches to case based research, including: ethnography, interviews of different types, coding techniques, and others.  We will also discuss the epistemic, methodological and practical implications of  using net-effects versus case based approaches within mainstream sociology.

Prof. Pyong Gap Min - PyongGap.Min@qc.cuny.edu
Soc. 82800– Asian Americans
Thursday, 6:30– 8:30 pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

  1. This course has two main objectives.  First, it intends to help students conduct research on Asian Americans effectively by providing information about Asian American experiences and research methods. Second, it will help students to prepare to teach social science courses on Asian American experiences.
  2. To achieve the intended objectives, it will provide an overview of Asian-American experiences by covering Asian Americans both as a whole with regard to particular topics and major Asian ethnic groups separately.
  3. Major Asian American groups to be covered separately are Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, South Asian, Korean, and Indo-Chinese (Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians). 
  4. General topics to be covered are immigration (history and contemporary trends), settlement patterns, socio-economic adjustment, prejudice and discrimination experienced, family and gender issues, community organization, ethnicity (ethnic attachment, ethnic identity, and ethnic solidarity), religious background, and intergenerational transition. 
  5. Specific topics and theories to be covered include the following: the model minority thesis, ethnic and pan-Asian ethnic identities, Asian Americans’ marital patterns, multiracial Asian Americans, Asian Americans' positioning in U.S. race relations, the effects of globalization on Asian immigration patterns, Asian Americans' transnational ties, Asian Americans' political development.
  6. The instructor will devote a significant amount of time in every class to teaching relevant research methods for Asian American experiences.
  7. Students will look at fresh data on Asian American experiences derived from the 2000 and 2010 Censuses and recent American Community Surveys and recent research findings. 
  8. Students will discuss major issues related to Asian American experiences and review a comprehensive literature on Asian American experiences. These components of the course will help doctoral students to decide dissertation topics related to Asian American experiences.

 Prof. Deborah Balk - dbalk@baruch.cuny.edu
Soc. 72200 Population Dynamics and Climate Change
Mondays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits
           
This course will examine two hallmark characteristics of the 21st century: demographic change and climate change. We will examine demographic behavior and population dynamics (urbanization, migration, fertility, mortality, age and aging, and household size and formation) in the context of climate change. Further, we will explore the role that population dynamics play in climate models and scenarios, as well as in climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. We will consider policies and programs that address these issues. The course will be global in nature, although many examples will be drawn from a developing-country context as well as from the United States. Students will learn to examine theory and evidence (data and methods) at the local, national, and international levels to understand populations at risk in the short and long run, internal and international migration flows, city growth and urban dynamism, and fertility and mortality responses tin the context of short- and long-term climate change and related hazards (e.g., increased storms and associated flooding, sea-level rise, drought, and changes in disease vectors). Prerequisites: None.

Prof. Shiro Horiuchi – shoriouchi@gc.cuny.edu
Soc. 81900 - Advanced Methods of Demographic Analysis
Thursdays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

In this course we study advanced methods of demographic analysis. They are widely used in research on mortality, fertility, nuptiality, migration, population composition, and other demographic processes, but many of them can also be applied to a broad range of topics in other areas of the social sciences and biomedical sciences. Those methods include life table techniques (multiple-decrement and multi-state), decomposition analysis, age-period-cohort models, Lee-Carter model, Lexis map analysis, smoothing and non-parametric regression techniques, event history analysis (with demographic emphasis), and mathematical models of population dynamics. Computer exercises using R are included. Prerequisites: (1) Introductory statistics including multiple linear regression; (2) DCP 70200 or permission of the instructor. No background in calculus or matrix algebra, or no previous experience in R is required.

Prof. Ann Kirschner/ Gilda Barabino
Soc. 84503 – Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy
Wednesdays, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits

What does it take to prepare students for success in the 21st century? This graduate seminar will explore innovations in higher education, with a special focus on technology and new pathways that lead to lifelong learning.
The course will be interdisciplinary in its approach, and will look at the web of assumptions about democracy and social mobility that underlie the American system of higher education. It is appropriate for future faculty members, administrators, or anyone who plans a career in education or public policy, or is interested in innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in education.
Leaving aside the philosophical question of what constitutes “success,” we start with a set of observations:

  • For the foreseeable future, the majority of good paying jobs will require some kind of
    postsecondary education.
  • America’s faith in the importance of a college degree is, however, declining among prospective students and their families. About half of today’s graduates question the value of their diploma.
  • The undergraduate student body has changed dramatically: what was once the “nontraditional” student—older, working, diverse, more likely to be first generation to graduate from college, more likely to transfer at least once—is now the mainstream of America’s 20 million college students.
  • Liberal arts majors are less and less popular, as students grapple with the challenge of debt, pragmatic concerns about employability, and outmoded pedagogy and curricula.
  • University curriculum and pedagogy in technology-related majors cannot keep up with the velocity of change in the private sector, a misalignment that will only increase in the future. Moreover, as computer science enrollments grow, universities struggle to maintain adequate instructional capacity.
And a set of questions, intended to be broad and provocative:
  • Is higher education set up to serve today’s students?
  • Is the college diploma the future “coin of the realm” for students? For employers?
  • Is the six year graduation rate the right standard of success? What are possible new pathways to success? Should college be shorter? Longer? In residence? Online?
  • Is “vocational” vs. “academic” an anachronistic construct? In an era when the majority of students say they go to college to get a job, how should we think about balancing career-consciousness vs. intellectual aspiration?
  • Should every student study coding? Shakespeare? How will student confidence in their diploma be affected by the need to pursue high tuition “boot camp” programs to gain employment in competitive new economy jobs?
  • Most employers use a college degree as a proxy for skills attainment; that confidence is perhaps the most important asset of higher education. If we lose this confidence either through outmoded curriculum or more reliable or more precise forms of skills assessment, what happens to the value of higher education?
  • What is the role of experiential learning: internships, study abroad, undergraduate research?
  • What pedagogies or newfangled approaches to the disciplines produce the kind of critical thinking that employers say they want? What is critical thinking, anyway?

Imagine a child of six today, graduating from high school in 2028. What do we think college will look like and how do we get ready for that student?
The course will be conducted in a seminar format, emphasizing class presentations and participation. There will be visitors drawn from leaders in higher education and technology. Students will interview students and leaders at other universities, as well as corporate leaders. Each seminar meeting will include a weekly lightning round, where each student will present an article/new study. Some may elect to be embedded with companies for group strategy projects.
As a final assignment, students will choose an area of innovation and present a case for CUNY adoption.