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Spring 2021

Constructing History: Architecture and Alternative Histories of New York

Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis (MALS, The Graduate Center)
Jason Montgomery (Architectural Technology, City Tech)

Wednesdays, 4:15pm
Course Number: IDS 81630


Architecture and the built environment are products of their social, political, and economic circumstances. New York City, a perpetually evolving metropolis, has been shaped by successive waves of immigration, shifting economic priorities (from agriculture and manufacturing to finance and technology), and politics. Today, the impact of gentrification, the lack of affordable housing, and climate change is evident in New York City’s built environment. This is not a new story, but one that has been intrinsic to New York City since its founding. Therefore, rather than relying on the written record as the main evidence for exploring New York’s history, this course will introduce students to the built environment and use the urban fabric of New York--its buildings, streets, and places, along with primary source materials about these edifices from libraries and archives--to construct alternative histories of the city. Erected, used, and inhabited by people of all colors, creeds, socio-economic backgrounds and cultures, architecture and the built environment allows us different insights into the development of New York’s history, inviting us to develop alternative stories about the city’s past. The study of architecture and the built environment is inherently interdisciplinary. Students will be introduced to diverse research methods and will be tasked with conducting place-based research on New York City’s built environment during site visits and visits to archives and libraries. The students in the course will have an opportunity to generate new knowledge about New York City, its built environment, and people.


Science & Diplomacy: What Scientists Can do on a Global Stage

Mandë Holford (Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry, Hunter College and The Graduate Center)
Shirley Raps (Biology, Hunter College and The Graduate Center)

Wednesdays, 10:10am
Course Number: IDS 81670


The challenges that scientists today encounter are more complex and far-reaching than ever before. This introductory course invites the early career scientific community to consider the role and responsibility of science in diplomacy and peace building. This role can manifest at multiple levels: individual scientists should adhere to a set of responsible/ethical research practices, and the international communities of scientists and diplomats must come together to negotiate agreements to place restrictions on scientists engaging in research that could be considered ‘dual-use’, while promoting research for peaceful purposes. Essential to success for scientists are skills for problem solving, seeking alternative creative approaches, finding win/win opportunities, building trust and consensus, and communicating in thoughtful and persuasive ways. But these skills have not been conceived in the context of the worlds of diplomacy and international security, nor are they usually part of the learning pathway for most scientists. There is therefore a need to “hack” the application of these skills for diplomacy and international security. If we want to help young scientists engage in solving global challenges that threaten society, such as the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must give them the tools they need to do so with sensitivity and dexterity. This course will exposes its participants to critical science leadership skills, and provide them with a tool kit to augment their impact as scientists and science diplomats. The course uses role playing and experiential field visits to reinforce the participants bond as a network of young scientists, inspire them to interact and add value to their communities and importantly, to be prepared to extend the mission of the Future Initiative by fostering deeper conversations and connections about the future of higher education and educational innovation.


The shorthand term Science Diplomacy (SD) spans wide-ranging activities connecting science and technology with international affairs. The goals of the course are to help early career scientists: (a) think more systematically about the global potential of their work, including ethical, political, and economic implications; and (b) become acquainted with the people, networks, and resources available for scientific cooperation, including those nations with whom cooperation may be especially difficult.


Cities and Disaster: Past, Present, and Future

Cary Karacas (Earth and Environmental Sciences, The Graduate Center | Political Science and Global Affairs, College of Staten Island)
Robin Kietlinski (History, LaGuardia Community College)

Wednesdays, 11:45am
Course Number: IDS 81640


This team-taught, interdisciplinary course will focus on disasters faced by major urban centers across a broad span of time and place. Taught by a geographer and a historian who both specialize in the intersection of cities and crisis, the course will offer a unique perspective on critical issues that arise when cities and citizens are forced to endure a catastrophic event. The course will be divided into three thematic and chronological units: 1) PAST: The focus of this unit will be on the historic destruction and subsequent remaking of important urban centers such as Lisbon, Chicago, Chongqing, Dresden, and Tokyo as a result of earthquakes, fires, and wartime bombing; 2) PRESENT: Cities that have recently experienced destruction and reconstruction as a result of worsening climate conditions, with a sustained focus on New York City during and after Hurricane Sandy; and 3) FUTURE: An examination of cities in the Global South that are being and will continue to be impacted by environmental degradation, climate change, and diminishing resources such as water. We will interrogate differences between the concepts of “natural” versus “man-made” disasters, looking at specific case studies as we discuss how and why the line is not always a clear one.

Working in conjunction with the Graduate Center’s Teaching & Learning Center, we will have each of our students develop a single lecture that connects general concepts learned in the course to a specific example of a city impacted by disaster that they will research throughout the semester. Ideally, by the end of the semester, each student will have delivered their lecture to an undergraduate class (either an Urban Geography or Introduction to Geography course offered at the College of Staten Island, or a World History survey course at LaGuardia).

This course will contribute to diversity at the Graduate Center in a number of ways. Across our team-teaching partnership we will balance our work evenly, and anticipate a good working relationship as we both have prior experience in team teaching. Both instructors have worked in a team-teaching capacity in Japan, and Dr. Kietlinski has team-taught four semesters of World History at LaGCC with a PhD student from Columbia University’s South Asia Institute (in an innovative partnership that she established between LaGCC and Columbia in 2014). Structurally, our class at the Graduate Center will use pedagogical methods that ensure inclusion and equity such as open educational resources (discussed in the below section on pedagogical innovation). We will utilize an online platform to upload course materials in an effort to both offer greater access and to reduce ecological impact. Finally, the course content included in our syllabus will be diverse in terms of challenging a traditional Western canon. The third unit on future challenges to the Global South will be noteworthy in its inclusion of voices of scholars from India and other countries facing the most acute threats.


Equity, Elitism, and Public Higher Education

Matt Brim (Queer Studies and English, College of Staten Island)
Katina Rogers (MALS, The Futures Initiative, and Digital Humanities, The Graduate Center)

Tuesdays, 6:30pm
Course Number: IDS 81660


Higher education can be a powerful engine of equity and social mobility. Yet many of the structures of colleges and universities—including admissions offices, faculty hiring committees, disciplinary formations, institutional rankings, and even classroom pedagogies and practices of collegiality—rely on tacit values of meritocracy and an economy of prestige. For public universities like CUNY this tension can be especially problematic, as structurally-embedded inequities undermine the institution's democratizing mission and values. It is no surprise that normative institutional structures correspond with normative formulations of sexuality, class, race, and gender such that sociocultural biases are built in to the academy. This correspondence governs what counts as valuable intellectual work, and in doing so, it also overdetermines where and how and to whom resources accrue in the university. In other words, many academic structures actually undermine the values that we associate with possibilities for the most challenging and productive and diverse academic life.


In this course, we examine the purposes and principles of universities, especially public universities; consider whether various structures advance or undermine those goals; and imagine new possibilities for educational systems that weave equity into the fabric of all they do. We frame the tension between progressive academic values and conservative institutional structures in a number of ways: equity vs. elitism, public vs. private education, innovation vs. normative instruction, prestige vs. the public good. Our privileged methodology for considering the inequities and opportunities of university life will be queer of color and feminist materialist analyses, an interdisciplinary set of methods and methodologies that lend themselves to identifying, historicizing, and resisting institutional norms that produce queer-class-race-gender stratification in the university. Crucially, because these intellectual tools are themselves housed within institutional formations, they will be objects of our investigation as well as methods of analysis. We also draw on the relatively new field of Critical University Studies to frame the work of the course.


Our chief test-object, as well as our worksite, will be the public City University of New York system. CUNY is an ideal site for the production of place-based knowledge and pedagogical innovation using the methods just described, including a queer of color case study approach, for CUNY is a singular site of queer/race/class density within all of higher education. It is also an institution that provides models for structuring academic work according to the values of equity and democratic knowledge production. As final projects for the course, students may choose to use these models as a guide in designing undergraduate courses and innovative academic structures. Alternately, students may choose to write a final research paper. Students can also expect to blog on throughout the semester, co-create part of the class syllabus, and make connections with CUNY colleagues and resources as part of their course work. Several course sessions will be open to the CUNY community and the broader public. We will use open educational resources to the extent possible.