Public Scholarship

Public scholarship seeks to bridge the apparent division between scholars in academia and the general public, including through community engagement, oral history projects, collaborations with local historical societies and museums, the creation of digital archives and projects, and collaborative research with social movements/campaigns for justice. Embracing the social sciences, sciences, and technology, the Public Scholarship concentration enables students to contribute to public knowledge through broadening their academic knowledge to speak to wider audiences, improve their ability to communicate complex ideas in accessible language, and build relationships between academic institutions and external communities. The MALS concentration in Public Scholarship draws on the many related centers and initiatives housed at the Graduate Center as well as public-facing academic work that is produced through active collaboration with institutions, individuals, and groups outside the Graduate Center.

Degree Requirements

MALS students take four classes within the program — Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies, two core courses in their chosen concentration, and the thesis/capstone project — and choose their remaining electives from among courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center. This master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • · A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies] (3 credits)
  • · Two required core courses to introduce students to Public Scholarship [MALS 74800 Introduction to Public Scholarship: Theories, Methods, and Approaches and MALS 74900 Special Topics in Public Scholarship] (6 credits)
  • · 18 credits from courses of the student's choice that are relevant to the student’s concentration or studies
  • · A master's thesis/capstone project [MALS 79000] (3 credits)

Core Courses

MALS 748000 Introduction to Public Scholarship: Theories, Methods, and Approaches.

This course introduces students to public scholarship. Students will learn about the history and development of engaged and collaborative public-facing scholarship in the humanities and social sciences as an interdisciplinary field and a public good. Students will also consider the theoretical nature of and methodological approaches to public scholarship, major debates in the field, and their own lived experiences. The course will expose students to diverse types of publicly engaged work, including museums (educational programming, exhibitions, digital curation); digital public humanities and archives; oral history, story-telling and ethnography; cultural heritage and preservation; participatory action research; community engaged research; and social justice work; conservation; and others. In the course, students will learn how to design, theorize, and formulate public scholarship projects while emphasizing collaboration. Guest lecturers may be invited to discuss their own public-facing work.

MALS 74900 Special Topics in Public Scholarship

This course allows students to explore a specific topic in public scholarship. This course may focus on a semester-long project that engages with a specific aspect of public scholars. For example, the course might focus on a specific museum in order to examine museums and their engagement with the public; work with a local historical society, doing oral history projects; engage with a community-based organization on digital archives or outreach programs; and so on. The aim of this course is to be-hands, so that students gain actual experience in the practice of doing public scholarship.

Elective Courses

Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the doctoral and certificate programs in the social sciences and the humanities at The Graduate Center.

In addition to the many electives students can draw upon at the GC, students are encouraged to purse internship opportunities to engage in the active practice of Public Scholarship.

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Liberal Studies Research Guide.

Associated Faculty

Anna Akasoy, Professor, MALS, is a scholar of Islamic intellectual history who serves as the academic consultant of the Middle East Falconry Archive, a cultural heritage and conservation project based in the UAE with digital and museum-based components. She is also a member of the advisory board of the Bavarian Research Center for Interreligious Discourses which promotes religious dialogues and understanding in Germany. In Spring 2022, she taught MALS 78500 - Patronage, Collecting, and Exhibiting, a course that introduced students to the history

and present practices of cultural and art museums in the United States, using as an example the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art and included a visit to the museum to meet with curators, educational staff, researchers and the director to gain a better understanding of museum and the challenges that they face in the 21st century.

Prithi Kanakamedala, Associate Professor, History, Bronx Community College and MALS, is a public historian. Prior to joining CUNY as a full-time faculty member, she served as historian and curator for Brooklyn Abolitionists, a major long-term exhibit which ran from 2010 to 2015 at Brooklyn Historical Society (now the Center for Brooklyn History at the Brooklyn Public Library). She continues to work with a range of cultural organizations across the city. Her MALS courses in the New York Studies concentration have focused on using traditional and community archives, working collaboratively with cultural organizations, designing oral history projects, writing grant proposals and other ways of writing for the general public, and exploring New York City’s history and cultural life.

Elizabeth R. Macaulay, Associate Professor & EO of MALS. She is the Board chair and the Acquiring Editor, Roman, Islamic Art, Cultural Heritage and Archaeology, for, the Center for Public Art History, and the most visited art history website online, where she contributes essays and videos. If it were a museum, would have the third most YouTube subscribers after the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Her ten videos have been viewed over 500,000 times on YouTube, while her essays have had a similar number of readers.

Naomi J. Stubbs, Professor, LaGuardia Community College and MALS. Her work explores the history of New York, museum history, and American theatre and performance traditions. She is the editor of the open-access, digital edition of the diary of an actor, playwright, and stage manager named Harry Watkins (1825–94), who collaborated with many celebrities including P. T. Barnum, Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin Forrest, Anna Cora Mowatt, and Lucy Stone. His diary is the only pre-Civil war diary of substantial length and scope written by a U.S. actor.