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Fall 2019

Voices of the City: accessibility, reciprocity, and self-representation in place-based community research


Tarry Hum (Queens College and The Graduate Center, Environmental Psychology)
Prithi Kanakamedala (Bronx Community College, History)

Fall 2019, Thursdays, 2-4pm
Course Number: IDS 81620

Scholars active in place-based or participatory action research are committed to documenting community narratives and neighborhoods. It is central to our work, rooted in social justice, that these communities are not just represented, but that they have equitable stake in the project. Yet practitioners across the city struggle with core issues of accessibility, reciprocity, self-representation, and equity within the communities they work with. Who do place-based researchers represent, and does our work empower communities to tell their own stories? What histories do we contest and perpetuate with this work? And, who gets to participate? This inter-disciplinary course combines best or effective practices in Public History, Oral History, and Urban Planning to consider a number of projects in New York City that seek to document communities and narratives about the city that are not traditionally represented.



Climate Change and Discursive Frames: From Scientific Discourse to the Public Sphere


José del Valle (The Graduate Center, LAILAC)
David Lindo Atichati (College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center; Engineering and Earth and Environmental Sciences)

Fall 2019, Tuesdays, 11:45am-1:45pm
Course Number: IDS 81630

This course examines how scientific literature on climate change is discursively framed, how it becomes reframed as it travels to the social spaces where public opinion is negotiated, and how those linguistic and textual strategies shape and are shaped by the political economy of climate debates, that is, by the specific geopolitical and social positions of the different stake-holders. The climate literature produced by the specialized sciences is vast and not easy to transfer, on one hand, to the academic realm of the humanities and, on the other, to the complex public sphere where issues of political importance are selected and debated. The purpose of this course is, first, to explore the possibilities of a new interface between sociolinguistics and environmental science to raise awareness of the challenges faced when we position ourselves outside of our communities of scholarly practice. Secondly, the course aims at providing students with tools to perform a mediating role between specialized knowledge production and the public. We will offer a discussion-style class of key emerging issues related to climate change and atmospheric teleconnections using a critical discourse approach.



Interdisciplinary Topics in Law: Mothers in Law (MALS 70400)


Julie Suk (The Graduate Center, Dean of Master’s Programs and Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and MALS)
Sara McDougall (John Jay College, Global History; The Graduate Center, French and History)

Fall 2019, Mondays, 11:45am-1:45pm
Course Number: IDS 81640; MALS 70400

This course will introduce students to central issues in the history and sociology of law through the study of motherhood. The lens of motherhood will open up broader themes in the study of law and society, including categories such as gender, constitutionalism, and criminal justice. Studying the socio-legal history of motherhood will enable students to learn the skills of legal reasoning, utilize methods of legal-historical research, and pursue experiential learning through field studies, panel discussions open to the public, and the authoring of publicly available teaching materials on select topics.

First, we will explore how ideas of women as mothers have been enshrined in law, from the legal definition of the mother in civil law, to the legal treatment of pregnancy.

Second, this course will study women as lawmakers, as “founding mothers” of twentieth-century constitutions, and laws more generally. We will explore biographies of women lawyers and lawmakers.

Third, we will consider mothers as law-breakers, by engaging the history of mothers in prison, and the current legal issues arising from incarceration of mothers. This component of the course may include field trips to engage the criminal justice system.



Transformations of Modernity, 1914-present


Karen Miller (The Graduate Center and LaGuardia Community College, MALS and History)
Andrea Morrell (Guttman Community College)

Fall 2019, Thursdays, 4:15-6:15pm
Course Number: IDS 81650; MALS 70800

This class will put colonial relations of power at the center of our study, exploring how claims about modernity have been used to both amplify and challenge inequalities on both intimate and global scales. It will interrogate the widely held assumption that “modernity” is linked to liberty, freedom, and state-protected equality. Instead, it will examine the multiple, contested, and conflicting meanings that people have used to understand the concept of modernity from the early 20th century into the present. How, we will ask, have various people used the moniker “modern” and to what end? How have modernity’s opposites – primitivity / backwardness / tradition – also been used to characterize spaces, people, institutions, states, “cultures,” geographies, technologies, etc.? In other words, we will explore the incredibly mixed set of foundations and legacies that shape the notion of modernity, as well as a range of responses from a range of different positions to its contradictory sensibilities. This class is interdisciplinary and will examine these questions through a range of texts, disciplines, and methodologies.