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Equity, Diversity, and Student-Centered Pedagogy Across the Disciplines

One of the Futures Initiative’s key program areas are a unique set of interdisciplinary, inter-institutional team-taught courses. Following a competitive, CUNY-wide application process, five to seven courses are selected annually for support from the Futures Initiative, with faculty teaching these courses designated as Faculty Fellows. These courses are designed to exemplify equity and innovation, and promote the Futures Initiative’s goals of increasing faculty diversity and establishing robust peer mentoring among faculty members across the CUNY system. Spanning many content areas, the courses emphasize creative, student-centered pedagogy and interdisciplinarity in their methods.

The courses create collaborations across the CUNY campuses and work towards a larger goal of public engagement. In addition to connecting faculty members from multiple CUNY colleges, by focusing on graduate pedagogy as well as ways doctoral students can apply student-centered methods in their own classrooms, they create renewed possibilities for graduate students to consider their dual role as learners and as instructors and valued junior colleagues. To solidify this connection, undergraduates who are taking courses taught by graduate students in Futures Initiative courses are invited to apply to become Undergraduate Leadership Fellows in a competition each spring.

Futures Initiative courses are structured to support the connections between the three pillars of higher education: research, teaching, and service to society. The courses complement and contribute to our public programming through conferences, symposia, and the ongoing University Worth Fighting For series.

Courses by Semester

Spring 2022

Javiela Evangelista (African American Studies, New York City College of Technology)
Carla Shedd (Urban Education, The Graduate Center)

Spring 2022
Course Number: IDS 81680

Black Diasporic Visions turns us toward a myriad of pathways for liberation formed by African people and people of African descent inside and outside of oppressive structures of power, as well as the development of alternative visions and spaces. More specifically, in this course, we consider these constructions which are often despite, within and at the intersections of institutions and systems that impact education, the prison industrial complex, food justice, public planning, preservation, legal personhood and climate change. It is our hope that the knowledge that grows out of Black Diasporic Visions may inform and continue to be informed by urgent interventions and creations today.

African people and people of African descent have always, envisioned, created. It is in part for the capture of innovation for profit, that early African civilizations were enslaved and African developments redirected. Let us read African and African descendant innovations and demands for being, with as much rigor as we read exploitation and oppression. In Black Diasporic Visions we consider how the tools of literary archaeology and magical realism inform how freedom dreams and provide possibilities for just existences and being seen. We examine what may be gleaned from the use of the ringshout by artist Common to honor the life of Freddie Grey, the Free Breakfast Programs organized by the Black Panther Party for educational reform, large statutes of African descendants by artists such as Simone Leigh and Kehinde Wiley that reclaim and redefine public space, community incorporation of solar panels and farming into educational programming in post hurricane Puerto Rico, embodied avatars as a means of survival as defined by Uri McMillan, and the call and response of #sayhername?

New technologies of expulsion and racial capital call for us to consider what it means to be in the wake, doing wake work, as described by Christina Sharpe. The range of constructions and visions reviewed in this course serve as correctives and prescriptives to the problems of omission and misrepresentation in academia, archives and society at large. Ultimately, Black Diasporic Visions, centralizes historically and globally informed liberatory possibilities, imperative to our lives today, that challenge divides between theory and practice.

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

Spring 2022
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.

Fall 2021

Michael Gillespie (Media and Communications and African American Studies, City College | Art History, Film, and English, The Graduate Center)
Amber Musser (English, The Graduate Center)

Fall 2021
Course Number: IDS 81650

The class will be an interdisciplinary consideration of blackness and the art of black cultural production with attention to framing art as an enactment of black visual and expressive culture. We will focus on the aesthetic, political, historiographic, and cultural instantiations of the idea of race as discourse. The narrative of the class is structured around various epistemological and aesthetic themes/tendencies that inform black visuality and performativity in the arts (e.g. film, television, literature, music, new media, photography, dance, painting, installation art).  Students will be required to complete and present their own projects on black visuality/performance. Course readings may include: Tina Campt’s Listening to Images, Uri McMillan’s Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance, Emily Lordi’s The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience Since the 1960s, Huey Copeland’s Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America, Amber J. Musser’s Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance, and Michael Boyce Gillespie’s Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film.

Karen Miller (History, LaGuardia Community College | M.A. Program in Liberal Studies, The Graduate Center)
Saadia Toor (Sociology and Anthropology, The College of Staten Island | Women’s Studies, The Graduate Center)

Fall 2021, Wednesdays, 6:30pm
Course Number: MALS 73200 / IDS 81670

This class will examine American Studies through the lens of social, cultural, political and other kinds of institutions. We will begin by exploring what we mean when we say “institution.” We will think together about why this may be a productive lens for assessing and interrogating the world around us. What does it offer? And what might it elide? How do studies of institutions help expose the myriad ways that power functions in culture, society, and politics? How do institutions, themselves, shape these power relations? And how do different approaches to understanding institutions give us different sorts of answers? American Studies scholars have been asking these questions for decades. We will turn to their texts as sites for exploration.

The texts that we will explore together will put questions about inequality and how it operates at their core. Thus, we will ask how institutions can help amplify or mitigate the often-crushing hierarchies that have been (and continue to be) based on racial, gender, sexual, national, and other forms of difference.

The class will be organized thematically, arranged around a series of inquiries drawn from recent scholarship. Each week, we will take a specific institution as our starting point. These institutions may include (but will not be limited to) the family, the state, courts, race, colonialism, hospitals, prisons, schools, the military, libraries, social networks, media, the corporation, capitalism, etc. We will examine how scholars within a range of American Studies subfields have developed different approaches for exploring institutions. They have used both creative and conventional scholarly tools to explore questions about life, infrastructure, health, race, ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, sexuality, transnationality, borders, architecture, foreign relations, language, politics, economics, literature, art, music, work, social movements, and more. Finally, we will discuss how these institutions may help offer us strategies for imagining new, and possibly better futures.

Spring 2021

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

Wednesdays, 4:15 p.m.
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.

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

Wednesdays, 10:10 a.m.
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.

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

Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m.
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.

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

Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.
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 futuresinitiative.org 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.

Fall 2020

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

Note: This course has been postponed to SPRING 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.

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.

Spring 2020

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

Day/Time: TBD

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, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, José 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 on hastac.org.

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

Mondays, 11:45 a.m.

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.

Fall 2019

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

Thursdays, 2:00 p.m. -4:00 p.m.

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.

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

Tuesdays, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

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.

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

Mondays, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

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.

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

Thursdays, 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.

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.

Spring 2019

Jonathan Gray (The Graduate Center and John Jay College, English) and Joy Sanchez-Taylor (LaGuardia Community College, English)

Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.

In 1994 Mark Dery defined Afrofuturism as “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the contexts of twentieth-century technoculture,” locating its origins in the early work of Samuel Delany (and O. Butler? and Sun Ra?). Our seminar takes Dery’s definition as a point of departure to examine the fiction, films, graphic narratives and music videos produced in the sub-genre of Afrofuturism. Because Afrofuturist expression runs the gamut from literary (science) fiction to popular music, it is incumbent for graduate students interested in African American and Africana literature and culture, American Studies, popular culture studies, and science fiction and fantasy to engage in the necessarily interdisciplinary inquiry that Afrofuturism demands. Indeed, the question of Afro-futurity informs recent creative work (Junot Diaz’s “Monstro,” HBO’s Westworld) and technical innovation (Black Twitter) that would seem to fall outside of an Afrofuturist paradigm. Thus, our exploration of this topic will problematize our understandings of speculative fiction (also known as science fiction or sci-fi), question how the imbrication of technology into our lives transforms human subjectivity, and survey literary theory to arrive at an understanding of how Afrofuturism has developed since the mid-20th century and how it promises to propagate itself into the future.

This course is grounded in student participation. Students in the course will thoroughly investigate primary and secondary sources on Afrofuturism and will play an active role in the course by taking turns as facilitators of class discussions and through the completion of a class project with a digital humanities component.

Michelle Billies (The Graduate Center and Kingsborough Community College, Psychology) and Soniya Munshi (Borough of Manhattan Community College,Social Sciences, Human Services, and Criminal Justice)

Thursdays, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

In this interdisciplinary course, graduate students will engage with critical race scholarship to build from and integrate this scholarship into their own research and pedagogy. Readings will span an expansive array of critical race theories and methods. Scholarly traditions will include transnational and diasporic feminisms; Black geographies and Caribbean philosophies; indigenous studies and critical ethnic studies; critical whiteness studies; queer studies; disability studies; activist scholarship; and, literature addressing pedagogical approaches in these areas. Students will use course readings to craft a writing project useful in their research or teaching. They may deepen an understanding of a particular theorist or body of work; rewrite the philosophical or theoretical underpinning of their research; create a course, syllabi and/or set of teaching plans; collaborate with another student to generate theory or a team-taught course; examine internalized dominance or internalized racism and its relationship to their scholarly work or teaching; or another project they propose. Students will be invited to contribute a reading to the syllabus.

Contemporary challenges in the academy and society at large confirm the crucial need for intellectual engagement with critical theories of race and intersectionality that address systemic, historic racism. This graduate course is a means of proliferating knowledge and critiques of race in and out of the academy while developing strategies for furthering this work in the undergraduate classroom. The pedagogical approach will foster open discussion of personal relationships to the readings as well as experiences of race and ethnicity.

Juan Battle (The Graduate Center, Sociology, Urban Education, Public Health) and Sigmund Shipp (Hunter College, Urban Policy and Planning)

Mondays, 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.

This course will provide students with a deeper understanding of contemporary academic and public discourses surrounding race and ethnicity. Grounded in a sociological approach, students will read key social scientific texts on the meaning of race from both historical and contemporary perspectives. This class is different than a traditional race and ethnicity graduate course because it asks students to not only understand academic discussions of race and ethnicity but also work to make these complex arguments accessible to wider audiences. With journalists and publics becoming increasingly interested in nuanced discourse about the influence of race in the Post-Obama era, the class presents a unique opportunity to help emergent scholars hone their voices and analysis.

The contemporary political environment necessitates a language and nuance that helps articulate an increasingly diverse yet still unequal world. Weekly discussions will be facilitated by rotating members of the class. Students in the course will be expected to develop three written products: 1) an op-ed targeted at a major news publication such at the New York Times or a national news publication; 2) an article for Contexts magazine, The Conversation or a similarly public facing publication; and 3) a book review for an academic publication. The course will draw primarily from two texts: Beyond Black and White: A Reader on Contemporary Race Relations edited by Zulema Valdez and Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists by Arlene Stein and Jessie Daniels. We plan to incorporate guest speakers who specialize in public facing work including a journalist, an editor from public facing publication, and academic with high profile success engaging publics.

Fall 2018

David Chapin (The Graduate Center, Environmental Psychology) and Tomoaki Imamichi (LaGuardia Community College, Social Science)

Thursdays, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach in exploring the relationship between care and the physical environment—how care (and the absence of it) is reflected in the physical environment and the physical environment can support care. The course will focus approximately two-week segments on the following topics:

  • Experiencing Places of Care - Taking advance of the diverse settings and opportunities of New York City, this course includes field trips (such as Roosevelt Island, a Japanese Tea Room, and a guerrilla garden), phenomenological experiments (e.g. traveling with a stroller or suitcase through different environments), and guest speakers (possibly from the Adaptive Design Association and the Ramapough-Lenape Nation).
  • Understanding Care by Exploring Environments of Anti-Care - We will focus briefly on concepts of power and how they are actualized in issues such as racism, class distinctions and the like; techniques of exclusion, exploitation, deflection and distraction. Who benefits?
  • The Architecture of Care: Caring for the Community - Through readings, visual examples, and discussions, we will explore and analyze how the built environment enables and disables people, and what caring environments entail. Some of our focus will be on institutional settings, but we will also look carefully at everyday environments—environments designed for diversity and inclusion which allow people with diverse abilities, different cultural backgrounds and possible conflicting needs to feel welcome and participate in society.
  • Sustainability by Design: Caring for Our Future - How do architecture, urban design and policies of justice lead to more sustainable practices? We will consider innovative new building techniques and designs, as well as existing models of neighborhoods, global cities, and cultural traditions.
  • Environmental Attitudes of Care - We will investigate different ideological and philosophical approaches with implications of how we relate to the environment, ranging from existential approaches of “being-in-the-world” to concepts of “dwelling” and wabi-sabi (an appreciation for imperfection and the aged) and how these attitudes can be manifested in practice, objects and the built environment.
  • Contemporary Issues of Care - We must also consider care (and the lack of) in the evolving context of virtual environments, screen-life, and technological advances such as “care-giving” robots and “artificial emotions.”

Project

Working in small groups, we will expect each class member to actively apply concepts from the class to a project defined as significant by the group.

Joseph Straus (The Graduate Center, Music) and Julia Miele Rodas (Bronx Community College, English)

Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Like the fictions of gender and race, disability is a cultural and social formation that sorts bodies and minds into desirable (normal) and undesirable (abnormal, sick) categories. Regimes of representation in literature, art, music, theater, film, and popular culture—the ways that bodies and minds constructed as disabled are depicted—both reflect and shape cultural understandings of nonconforming identities and extraordinary bodies, affecting the lived experience of people understood as disabled, often in negative ways. Drawing on examples from the arts and popular culture, this course will interrogate the many ways disability identity has been confined to rigid and unproductive social, political, and aesthetic categories. It will also explore a significant counter-tradition in which disability is seen as a significant artistic resource and a desirable way of being in the world. Topics will include: the medical and social models of disability; narratives of disability; disability and performance; disability writing (memoir and fiction); narratives of overcoming; the histories and cultures of autism, deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, and madness. We will pay particular attention to the intersection of disability with other more familiar tropes of human disqualification, including race, gender, and sexuality.

Ann Kirschner (The Graduate Center)

Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Coming soon to your neighborhood…Driverless cars. Stores without cashiers. Supermarkets stocked with food that was harvested by robots and delivered by drones. Restaurant with automated burger flippers. Classrooms stocked with virtual reality headsets and no teachers. Nursing homes with comfort care e-surrogates. Hospitals with virtual doctors. Brain-computer interfaces that cure blindness and fix spinal cord injuries.

Sometimes called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the Second Machine Age, we are on the cusp of an era in which artificial intelligence, automation, genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, to name just a few, are transforming how we live, learn, and earn. In previous eras, major shifts in technology created as many new jobs as they destroyed. Are we doomed to a period of massive unemployment and social unrest? Or is this the new utopia?

Mind the Gap will address this question: As we think about the range of possibilities — from the utopian to the dystopian — what are the policies, technologies, and social systems that should be anticipated today to ensure positive outcomes for the future? The course will examine the historical role of work, the outcomes of previous technological shifts, and the ethical dimensions that should inform our planning for the future. The focus will not only be on technology but on drivers for change, the context in which they are taking place, from changing demographics to globalization to climate change.

The course assumes that technology is not created in a vacuum, that the future is a page not yet written, and that we have a window of time in which business, government, and the individual can proactively adapt and shape a better future.

Spring 2017

Cathy N. Davidson (The Graduate Center, English) and Michael Gillespie (City College, Black Studies and Film Studies)

Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

This course is designed as both an introduction to core concepts of race and gender theory and as a course in the pedagogy of teaching race and gender in the introductory undergraduate humanities classroom. We will be reading a number of key texts, largely in the disciplinary areas of film, literary, and cultural theory, from the perspective of critical race theory, feminist theory, queer theory, visual culture studies, and gender and sexuality theory. We will also be reading constructivist, student-centered, activist, engaged learning theory.

The course begins from the premise that profound work in race and gender theory occurs in introductory courses throughout the humanities. Introductory courses are among the most challenging to teach and our CUNY graduate students, early in their graduate careers, have sole responsibility for teaching them on the CUNY campuses. This course is specifically designed to help prepare them for their crucial role in higher education at CUNY and beyond. In demographic terms, the drop-out rate is highest in introductory undergraduate courses. In disciplinary terms, introductory courses are where students are most likely to determine a later course of study—a major or graduate school. In intellectual terms, introductory courses help create the critical lens through which students view the rest of their learning, in school and out. Yet, very little pedagogical training in graduate school focuses on methods for engaging students who are encountering race and gender theory for the first time, on how to integrate race and gender theory into a general introductory humanities curriculum, on how to connect the core concepts in an introductory course with a graduate student’s own specialized research, and on how race and gender are interconnected and converge in the terms of intersectionality.

This course will be offered to Graduate Center students by permission of the instructors. First priority will be to GC students currently teaching courses on a CUNY campus. We will build upon graduate students’ own experiences as teachers and learners. We will have a site on C-Box/Academic Commons for our course and also sites that will link all the undergraduate courses being taught by the graduate students in the course.

We will focus on such basics as designing syllabi, creating engaged pedagogical exercises, rethinking formative assessment methods, interrogating both the lecture and the standard discussion models used in traditional humanities courses, and in building online portfolios to showcase student work.

Both graduate students and the undergraduates they are teaching will be required to publish some of their work in public online forums and to participate in at least one project that offers a public contribution to knowledge, possibly in partnership with colleagues at LaGuardia Community College as part of our new Mellon-sponsored Humanities Alliance.

Since this course will be a student-led course with graduate students creating some or all of the syllabus together via a Google Doc exercise that models student-centered pedagogy, we will not finalize all the readings and viewings in advance However, it is assumed there will be some combination of DuBois, Dewey, hooks, Fanon, Freire, Lowe, Butler, Lorde, Sedgwick, Berlant, Ahmed, Rich, Moten, Fleetwood, Davidson, and Gillespie.

Setha Low (The Graduate Center, Environmental Psychology, Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Women’s Studies) and Amy Chazkel (The Graduate Center and Queens College, History)

Thursdays, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

We propose an interdisciplinary course that examines the concept of the public, and the plural publics, as an analytical construct of particular importance in both scholarship and political life. This course offers a useful way to think about diversity in society, as the concept of “public” implies the question of who is included in and excluded from the collective. Students will master the classic and more recent literature on space and place with respect to the designation of public and private. We will also go beyond the literature on shared resources and social spaces to think broadly about major approaches to the common, the communal, and the ordinary. The course knits together diverse, related themes, including: state versus private jurisdiction in regulating everyday life; feminist and black public spheres; the history and politics of public education; the privatization of urban public space; and political, social, and legal conflicts over copyright, intellectual property and public scholarship and art. We will pay special attention to a dimension of the study of public life of particular concern to us both, and of perennial political relevance as a question of global social justice: the privatization of formerly shared or commonly owned resources—the “enclosure of the commons”—as both a historical process and a present-day phenomenon. Readings will include a combination of theoretical inquiries and case studies drawn primarily, but not exclusively, from the North American, Latin American, and European contexts.

Among the learning goals of such a broad, interdisciplinary course is the theoretical/methodological question concerning the relative merits of different levels of analysis. We will bring the question of scale to bear on our class discussions, which take up the concepts of the public/publics through, in turns, case studies, transnational research, social scientific modeling, and theoretical explorations. Thus, in addition to familiarizing students with a subject of immense importance in the humanities and social sciences, this course aims to impart a significant meta-lesson in how to approach research and learning.

Guest speakers might include Peter Linebaugh (on the commons in historical perspective), David Bollier (on the commons as a broadly applied political concept), and Rebecca Scott, who has done pioneering legal and social history research on slave and post-abolition societies and might conduct a workshop for our students on the concept of public rights.

Full, active, and equitable student participation will be built into the syllabus, first in the form of students’ in-class presentations and then in students’ responsibility to select readings for the last third of the class as an exercise in bibliographic research and radical pedagogy.

The instructors will provide intellectual and logistical support for students to engage in lasting collaborations with each other and with faculty members that would continue beyond the end of the semester. Such collaborations might take the form of jointly authored articles, websites, or public history projects.

Diana Romero (Hunter College and the CUNY School of Public Health, Community, Society and Health, Public Health Program) and Ananya Mukherjea (College of Staten Island, Sociology/Anthropology)

Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

This course brings an interdisciplinary public health (social ecological/multilevel) and sociological (critical cultural studies) lens to examine the social, historical, political and other contexts in which sex, gender and reproductive health are situated. There will be a particular focus on the role of social inequality with regard to imposition and effects of policies on diverse groups and their associated, disparate sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes. Because of the cross-cutting nature of this subject, we seek to bring together a diverse group of graduate students (eg, from sociology, public health , anthropology, political science, social welfare, gender studies, law), in order to deepen the analysis of the selected issues and provide a more valuable experience than the typical discipline-specific course. We will employ an innovative pedagogical case-study approach to conduct in-depth analyses of select SRH issues (1) as a group in class (selected by the instructors), and (2) in student pairs (selected by the students). The student-led, case-study analyses will involve their assuming the role of ‘co-instructors’ for individual class sessions, wherein they will lead the class in a discussion of the topic and their specific analysis. Toward this end, web-based and other materials on pedagogy will be included among the course materials (e.g., Pedagogy in Action: Connecting Theory to Classroom PracticeMerlot Pedagogy).

Possible instructor-led case-study topics may include:

  • Family planning/contraception and abortion in women of color past and present: population control, reproductive rights, choice, economic equality, or something else?
  • The culture and politics of male circumcision, PrEP, and condom usage as differing approaches to reducing rates of HIV transmission
  • Sexual health education and teen pregnancy: cross-national trends and policy comparison
  • The ongoing controversy regarding HPV vaccine availability to teens and young adults in the US
  • Pregnancy and childbearing — ‘intended’ or not? Interrogation of rational-based theory via quantitative measures to measure pregnancy/childbearing intentions
  • Two scenarios ‘beyond ‘choice’: conscientious objection and sex selection

For the student-led, case-study analyses, students may select from a range of possible topics, as well as propose their own, including but not limited to: LGBTQ health and rights issues; sterilization of marginalized groups and constrained choice; abstinence­-only education vis-à-vis risk of pregnancy and STIs; emergency contraception knowledge, access, and policies; US poverty policy, reproduction (family cap/child exclusion), and heteronormativity (two-parent families/paternity identification).

Our interdisciplinary analytic approach will utilize diverse primary and secondary data sources, domestic and international, as relevant, bringing both qualitative and quantitative research expertise to this co-teaching endeavor. We will engage with methods and theories from the social sciences, public health, and law (human rights) to understand how various forms of social inequality along the lines of race/ethnicity, gender, and class shape not only sexual and reproductive health experiences and outcomes but also the very meaning of reproduction and ‘reproductive illness.’ This course will equip students with the analytical tools to engage in contemporary debates and policy analyses of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and policies, that recognize the inherent diversity of experiences in this field.

Patricia Brooks (The Graduate Center and College of Staten Island, Psychology) and Jill Grose-Fifer (The Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Psychology)

Wednesdays, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

An important goal of the PhD program in Psychology is to prepare graduate students to teach psychology in university settings. This team-taught course will focus on professional development and the use of innovative student-centered pedagogical methods for undergraduate teaching that focus on active learning. You will read and discuss research on the science of teaching and learning, and the advantages and disadvantages of various technologies for instruction (e.g., hybrid/on-line teaching, YouTube, Blackboard, PowerPoint). You will use a collaborative model of teacher preparation in which you will share your knowledge and resources with peers.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Design and teach a course using a student-centered teaching approach based on the five APA learning outcomes for undergraduate education: Content knowledge; Scientific inquiry and critical thinking; Ethical and social responsibility in a diverse world; Communication; and Professional development.
  • Design active learning exercises and strategies that build crucial skills in students, such as their oral and written communication skills, critical thinking, the ability to work with others, etc.
  • Produce a preliminary teaching portfolio, which will include a draft statement of teaching philosophy and a course syllabus.
  • Effectively use universal design in your activities and course design to meet the diverse needs of students in today’s college classrooms.
  • Demonstrate the ways in which educators can fulfill their responsibility to stay current in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and use effective pedagogy as determined by evidence-based studies.

Martin Ruck (The Graduate Center, Psychology) and Erika Niwa (Brooklyn College, Psychology)

Tuesdays, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine how the social construction of
childhood, both across time and context, shapes children’s perceptions of self, others, and
society. This team-taught course will utilize multiple disciplinary lenses, from developmental psychology, sociology, child studies, and anthropology, as well as critical theory and international policy. Using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, United Nations General Assembly, 1989) as our overarching conceptual framework, we are grounded by our fundamental belief that the perceptions and lived experiences of children and youth are inextricable from the complex worlds that they inhabit, extending from the most proximal contexts (including families and schools) to the most distal contexts (including policy, institutions, and cultural beliefs). Furthermore, inequality and oppression play a key role in these processes. Specific attention will be paid to examining the complex intersections of individual development and multi-level ecological systems as they shape a range of developmental domains – including perceptions of children’s rights, civic engagement, and identity development – in the face of continuing inequality and oppression.

This seminar-based course is grounded in student participation. Students will play an active role in the course via class dialogues, in-class presentations, and being lead facilitators of class discussions. Thus, the collaboration of the students with each other and with the instructors will build the framework for the course.

Spring 2016

Anna Stetsenko (Graduate Center, Psychology/Urban Education) and Eduardo Vianna (Social Sciences, LaGuardia Community College) 

Tuesdays, 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m., 3 credits

The role of agency and agentive positioning in knowledge production and teaching-learning processes remains highly contested across major frameworks at the intersection of education and human development.

This course will examine a broad spectrum of approaches – from critical pedagogy and constructivism to learning-as-participation and activist learning – in terms of how they address agency at both individual and collective levels of social dynamics. One of the angles will be to critically address how conceptions about agency in the context of culture and society find their way into the practices of teaching and learning.The goal is to set the stage for teaching-learning in ways that overcome the ethos of adaptation and transmission models to instead provide the tools for learners’ agentive positioning as creators and co-contributors to knowledge production and learning within the dynamics of social transformation in classrooms and beyond. In capitalizing on social transformation and activist agency, this exploration will interrogate responsibilities that various models and epistemologies embody and target templates for overcoming taken-for-granted norms, biases, power differentials, and inequalities.


See this article that Professors Stetsenko and Vianna co-authored titled “Research with a Transformative Activist Agenda: Creating the Future Through Education for Social Change.”

David Forbes (Brooklyn College, School Psychology, Counseling, and Leadership) and Gillian Bayne (Lehman College, STEM Education)

Tuesdays, 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m., 3 credits

This course will examine novel, contemporary and foundational methodological approaches and the application of mindfulness into STEM education, and more broadly into the learning sciences (i.e., the science of teaching and learning in formal and informal contexts).  An overarching goal of the course is to understand, develop and contribute to a nexus of theories, ideas, research activities and practices that can be used to improve teaching and learning experiences at the student, teacher, teacher education and policy levels via drawing from a sociocultural framework and the Integral Model.  Students can look forward to growing as scholars, researchers, global citizens and reform minded education leaders, while they come away from the course experience with an awareness of a) the psychological, social, cultural, and political context of STEM and the learning sciences b) their own values, thoughts, and feelings about teaching urban youth STEM content that is synergistically aligned to mindfulness practices, and c) the psychological, social, cultural, and political context of the lifeworlds of urban youth and their relationships to STEM.

We will teach and use the mindfully infused STEM practices with the intention to share best possible outcomes for urban youth and for society in a holistic way.

Through the Integral model students will (a) be exposed generally to mindfulness, (b) learn about the recent controversies around the use of mindfulness in education and in other institutions, and as a component of this, mindfulness will be examined in relation to science – both the science of mindfulness, and the controversy over why mindfulness proponents believe there is a need turn to the sciences in order to be taken seriously, and (c) examine mindfulness and meditation in integral terms, so as to find a conscious, integrally informed way to use it.  The integration will be considered in the context of both being educators and people interested in  personally and socially promoting optimal human development, and in working with urban youth, while bringing in mindfulness as a critical, socially conscious force for personal and social change, not just as a technology.   We will examine the use mindfulness in dialogue in the classroom, and use it to look at and/practice dialogue around difficult issues like white privilege and Black Lives Matter, and challenging sources of power in society.


On May 2, 2016 Futures Initiative Faculty Fellow Gillian Bayne and Urban Education Ph.D. student Aderinsola Gilbert led an exciting and productive workshop during Teach@CUNY Day on “Advancing STEM Teaching and Learning in New York City’s Metropolis.” Read the recap here.


In a recent Salon piece on mindfulness in the classroom, Prof. David Forbes writes about neoliberal education and how it uses mindfulness for purposes that run counter to its own principles. (Prof. Forbes would like to note that he did not select either the title or sub-title for this piece.)

Cathy N. Davidson (Graduate Center, Futures Initiative and English) and William Kelly (Graduate Center, President Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor)

Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. 2, 3, or 4 credits.

This course has three primary intentions; First, we will consider some foundational texts of American educational and cultural history, investigating the strategies of inclusion and exclusion they deploy. Possible topics include: the seventeenth and eighteenth-century establishment of religiously-affiliated institutions designed to educate clergy, schools which in time became bastions of privilege; the yoking of education and republican principle in antebellum America, particularly as that impulse is registered in Thomas Jefferson’s founding of the University of Virginia; the expansion of educational opportunity through the public school movement, as documented in Horace Mann’s reports to the Massachusetts Board of Education (1837-48); the rise of politically and ideologically-fraught institutions to serve women, African-Americans, and Native Americans; the expansion of educational franchise marked by the opening in 1847 of CUNY’s forerunner, the Free Academy, and by the passage of the First Morrill Act in 1862; and the emergence and consequence of liberal education theory at the end of the nineteenth-century. 

Second, we will read contemporary critiques/accounts of American education. 

Third, we will experiment with a variety of pedagogical practices that model different relationships between power and knowledge. 

The range of texts we might read is very wide indeed; writers under current consideration include: Increase and Cotton Mather, Thomas Shepard, Charles Chauncey, John Witherspoon, Jonathan Edwards, Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Bronson Alcott, Susanna Rowson, Catherine Beecher, Margaret Fuller, Lucy Larcom, Emma Willard, Horace Mann, Townsend Harris, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Zitkala-Sa, Henry Adams, John Dewey, Ralph Ellison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lani Guinier, Christopher Newfield, and Craig Steven Wilder. 

Method

Our method is simple: we will have a traditional syllabus for the first half of the course. It will be posted in a public group on HASTAC. For the midterm, each student will create a syllabus for the second half of the course—also posted on HASTAC. Then, during the scheduled midterm class, the professors will leave the room, and the students, having read one another’s syllabi, will use a Google Doc and create the rest of the course—the syllabus, final project (which will entail some public contribution to knowledge), any other requirements.


View the course website and the final, co-authored book project with contributions from each graduate students:Structuring Equality: A Handbook for Student-Centered Learning and Teaching Practices.


For more on how this course will work and why it matters, see Prof. Cathy Davidson’s recent HASTAC post: “How To Move from History and Theory of Higher Education to More Equitable Classroom Practices.”

Fall 2015

Kandice Chuh (Graduate Center, English) and Sujatha Fernandes (Queens College, Sociology)

Cuba has long loomed large in the U.S. imagination, whether by virtue of its refusal to embrace capitalism, the richness of its literary and musical traditions, the persistence of Fidel Castro's leadership, its proximity to the US coastal state of Florida and the migrants, exiles, and refugees who crossed the Florida Straits, and, now, because of the changing relations between the two countries. This team-taught, interdisciplinary course offers the opportunity to consider how ideas of Cuba and "Cubanness" take shape through literary and other aesthetic modes of expression, and to examine the ways in which such ideas are grounded in or depart from the everyday lives and political and cultural practices characterizing life in Cuba. What understandings of Cuba emerge by understanding it as a key site in the long histories of capital-driven migrations? How might racial formation be theorized through this space characterized by multiple forms of racialization, colonial histories, and ex-colonial nationalism? In what ways does Cuba exemplify and generate Caribbean and Latin American epistemologies, and what remains distinctive "about" Cuba and Cubanness? We will address such questions by studying the literature, film, history, sociology, and political theory, that help us encounter Cuba from multiple points of entry.

Students should expect to contribute regularly to this discussion-based seminar, and to submit several writing assignments as the formal requirements of the course.

Ofelia Garcia (Graduate Center, Urban Education and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages) and Carmina Makar (City College, Teaching Learning and Culture)

This seminar will engage students in critically thinking about how language policies in society and education are linked to sociopolitical ideologies in different nation-states. The seminar focuses on the role that language policies, enacted from the top, have played in constructing, sometimes, better futures, but other times, inequities and differences among speakers with various social characteristics. The seminar will also expand understandings of how people at the local level, as well as educators, negotiate language and literacy policies from the bottom-up. To enlarge these theoretical understandings, cases are drawn from throughout the world, using a global lens to expand our local understandings and practices. New York City will also serve as the laboratory to study the language practices of different communities and to reflect on the relationship between those practices and the language policies in New York City schools.

Spring 2015

Professors Cathy N. Davidson and William Kelly

Tuesdays, 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.

The course is designed for doctoral students across the humanities, social sciences, and STEM disciplines who are relatively new to undergraduate teaching (typically second, third, and fourth year students) and who will be teaching during S 2015 at one of CUNY’s colleges or community colleges.

As is the case with the larger Futures Initiative, this course looks in two directions at once, at innovation and equity. First, we will explore new methods of peer learning and teaching, interdisciplinary research collaborations, experiential learning, new digital tools, and public (online) contributions to knowledge. Second, we will consider the role of the university in society, especially public education in the U.S. in a stressed time where, nationally, we have seen declining support for public education, leading both to a student debt crisis and a professorial crisis of adjunct or contingent labor practices. What are the costs? Who bears them? What are the collective investments society makes in public education and what are the rewards? How do college students themselves contribute to society? And what will our contribution be?

Because much of the apparatus of modern higher education was developed roughly between 1865 and 1925, in and for the Taylorized Industrial Age, we will be proposing new pedagogical and institutional designs for the world we live in now. Doctoral students will be putting those ideas into practice in their own teaching in S 2015 on the CUNY campuses. Their undergraduates will be included as co-learners in this project, contributing their own ideas and feedback via course websites that will connect them to one another, across the campuses. As a final project across all the courses (and embodying both aspects of the class), we will design and populate a collaborative, online, public “CUNY Map of New York,” designed to visualize what college offers the community--and vice versa.

All graduate students enrolled in “Mapping the Futures of Higher Education” will turn in a final ePortfolio of their work, including links to their students’ contributions. NB: Graduate students taking the course for four credits will, in addition, lead a public presentation of this collaborative learning project at the Graduate Center and across the CUNY network.