Show The Graduate Center Menu


Spring 2020

Introduction to Engaged Teaching for Transformative Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Cathy N. Davidson (The Graduate Center, English and the Futures Initiative)
Eduardo Vianna (LaGuardia Community College, Social Sciences, and The Graduate Center, Psychology)

Day/Time: TBD
Course Number: IDS 81670

What does it mean to “introduce” a student to a field? This course is intended for any graduate student in the humanities or social sciences who is thinking seriously about the deepest “why” and “how” questions about their discipline and how those apply to their own research and teaching. We will begin with theoretical questions about disciplines, fields, foundations, pedagogy, research, aesthetics, and institutional structures alongside issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, social justice, engagement, and transformation. In each class and in final projects, we will encourage students to transform critique into engaged practice. Students will work collaboratively on analyzing and then designing: (1) a standard anthology or textbook in their field; (2) key articles or critical texts in their field; (3) standard syllabi of introductory or “core” courses in their field; (4) keywords in their field. Students will leave the course with a deeper understanding of the assumptions of their field and new methods for transformative learning that support diversity, inclusion, and a more equitable form of higher education. Our aim is to work toward “research with a transformative activist agenda” and teaching and mentoring as a “collaborative learning community project” that, in the end, contributes to education as a public good and a more just and equitable society.

Readings will be chosen from: Lev Vygotsky, Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde, Anna Stetsenko, Michelle Fine, Ira Shor, Stuart Hall, KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw, JosĂ© Munoz, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Peter Galison, Sara Ahmed, Alfie Kohn, Christopher Newfield, John Warner, Kandice Chuh, Roderick Ferguson, Kurt Lewin, Lisa Lowe, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Michael Fabricant, Stephen Brier, Cathy Davidson, Eduardo Vianna, as well as authors included in the crowdsourced “Progressive Pedagogy” bibliography being developed on (

Psychological Dis-ease Swelling in Contentious Times: Contributors, sustainers, and resisters

Michelle Fine (The Graduate Center, Psychology and Urban Education, MALS, and Women’s and Gender Studies)
Desiree Byrd (Queens College, Psychology)

Spring 2020, Mondays, 11:45am
Course Number: IDS 81680

The lived experience of mental health in the US, and in NYC in particular, reveals systemic inequities that result in disparate levels of navigational burden for cultural minorities and other marginalized citizens living with mental illness.  This introductory graduate course shifts the framework of pathological analysis from age old psychological theories to applied sociopolitical realities that will critically interrogate literatures on anxiety, paranoia, immigration, trauma, crime, violence and mental health and deconstructs how psychopathology varies by race/ethnicity, immigration status, income level, religion, sexuality and gender. As this course traverses through mood, anxiety and thought disorders, students will read, critique and create interdisciplinary “documents” and performances at the intersection of research, law, policy and analysis to connect individual level “mental health” concerns with the sociopolitical realities of modern day NYC. Working in interdisciplinary groups, students will select an “angle” for critical analysis, blending scholarly reviews, popular media and participant observation/interviews with respect to a range of issues, including the racialized criminalization of mental health and  police violence against women of color suffering from mental illness. This course will also involve lectures from/visits with activists as well as organizers involved with interpersonal violence, mass incarceration, addiction communities, immigration justice groups, and community leaders who  have cultivated unique interventions at the grass roots level to counter the impact of mental health disparities within varied neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Our analysis will move between pain and resistance; individual and structural enactments of dis-ease; prevention; and healing.