The Futures Initiative is pleased to announce our 2017-2018 Faculty Fellows and interdisciplinary team-taught graduate courses. As in years past, the aim of these courses is to support diversity, equity, and student-centered interdisciplinary learning at the graduate level, to strengthen faculty diversity at the Graduate Center, and to establish robust peer mentoring among faculty members across the CUNY system. The courses will complement our public programming in the ongoing University Worth Fighting For series. Faculty Fellows were selected in a CUNY-wide competition.
- Public School: Art in the City
- Participatory Action Research in the Borderlands: Research and Pedagogy for the Americas
- Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy
- Undocumented, Illegal, Citizen: The Politics and Psychology of Belonging in the United States
- Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication
- Change and Crisis in Universities: Research, Education, and Equity in Uncertain Times
- Critical Perspectives on Childhood and Pedagogy
Public School: Art in the City
Tuesdays, 12-3pm at different locations around NYC
Course Number: IDS 81630
PUBLIC SCHOOL is a course designed to encourage the making of, and reflection upon, art outside the gallery. Unlike a conventional CUNY seminar, we will never meet in the classroom, but instead use the five boroughs of New York as our campus—visiting sites, buildings, organizations, individuals, and situations that catalyse critical thinking about the public sphere.
Led by an artist and an art historian, the course will draw upon the rich history of New York as a context for radical artistic production in public space since the 1960s. We will be looking at (and sometimes retracing the steps of) artists who in previous decades took over abandoned buildings, collaborated with city workers, performed in the streets and on the rooftops, and thereby investigated the city’s unspoken codes of behaviour.
This post-studio course is designed to encourage the production of art outside the gallery. It is designed primarily for MFA students at the senior colleges, but is also open to students from other disciplines who make a good case for taking it.
Two public works (one in your own neighbourhood, and one in Times Square) and/or a written contribution to the class assignment.
Please contact faculty for permission to register: firstname.lastname@example.org and paul.ramirez.jonas [at] gmail.com
Participatory Action Research in the Borderlands: Research and Pedagogy for the Americas
Ofelia García (The Graduate Center, Urban Education and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages)
Rosario Torres-Guevara (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Academic Literacy and Linguistics)
Virtual collaboration with Members of NLERAP (National Latino Education Education Research and Policy Project)
Course Number: IDS 81640
This seminar explores how to extend understandings about the US Latino community and their experiences in two ways –– 1) reading and discussing work that is grounded in Latin American/Latin@ cosmologies, philosophies and worldviews; 2) conducting Participatory Action Research with the Latino community. The goal of the seminar is to co-construct alternative knowledge about the US Latino community and educate for community empowerment. To do so, the seminar works to develop a creative praxis that would allow imagining alternative realities to the present.
In order to embody the ideas that we discuss in the seminar, students will be involved at El Puente de Williamsburg, and especially in its high school, El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice. El Puente is a community rights institution that promotes leadership for peace and justice through involvement of youth in arts, education, scientific research, wellness and environmental action. In addition, members of NLERAP, the National Latin@ Education Research and Policy Project, will participate in the seminar through Skype and other blended formats. Possible NLERAP participants include family from CAL State San Jose, CAL State San Bernardino, CAL State Sacramento, University of Iowa, UC Riverside, St Peters College, and The Center for PR Studies, among others.
The Graduate Center does not have an active presence in Latino Studies or issues pertaining to Latino students. Even though there is a Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS), its focus is mostly to gather quantitative data on Latinos. And even though there is a robust program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, its focus is mostly literature and language. There is thus a need to encourage thinking about Latino issues from an “other angle,” an angle that would take into account an indigenous cosmology, different from that presented in the U.S, and that would gather data with the numerous Latino community, rather than on them. We foresee this seminar as being important not only to education students, where it originates, but also to students in programs in anthropology, history, sociology. Because of its emphasis on how the arts (music and visual art) forms part of a Latin American cosmology, this seminar would also be of benefit to students in art and music.
The participation of Latino faculty from different geographical regions and with expertise in different disciplines, as well as the grounding of understandings on community practices and lives, will make it a dynamic context in which to explore teaching methods. We foresee that we will link doctoral students to community college students to high school students to community participants and we will explore what we can learn from putting all our voices alongside each other. Finally, the collaboration of Ofelia García and Rosario Torres-Guevara, a young energetic Mexican American scholar, will result in a new impetus for the field.
Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy
Ann Kirschner (University Professor, The Graduate Center; Dean Emeritus, Macaulay Honors College)
Gilda Barabino (City College, Dean, Grove School of Engineering)
Course Number: TBD
What does it take to prepare students for success in the 21st century? This graduate seminar will explore innovations in higher education, with a special focus on technology and new pathways that lead to lifelong learning.
The course will be interdisciplinary in its approach, and will look at the web of assumptions about democracy and social mobility that underlie the American system of higher education. It is appropriate for future faculty members, administrators, or anyone who plans a career in education or public policy, or is interested in innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in education.
Leaving aside the philosophical question of what constitutes “success,” we start with a set of observations:
- For the foreseeable future, the majority of good paying jobs will require some kind of
- America’s faith in the importance of a college degree is, however, declining among prospective students and their families. About half of today’s graduates question the value of their diploma.
- The undergraduate student body has changed dramatically: what was once the “nontraditional” student—older, working, diverse, more likely to be first generation to graduate from college, more likely to transfer at least once—is now the mainstream of America’s 20 million college students.
- Liberal arts majors are less and less popular, as students grapple with the challenge of debt, pragmatic concerns about employability, and outmoded pedagogy and curricula.
- University curriculum and pedagogy in technology-related majors cannot keep up with the velocity of change in the private sector, a misalignment that will only increase in the future. Moreover, as computer science enrollments grow, universities struggle to maintain adequate instructional capacity.
And a set of questions, intended to be broad and provocative:
- Is higher education set up to serve today’s students?
- Is the college diploma the future “coin of the realm” for students? For employers?
- Is the six year graduation rate the right standard of success? What are possible new pathways to success? Should college be shorter? Longer? In residence? Online?
- Is “vocational” vs. “academic” an anachronistic construct? In an era when the majority of students say they go to college to get a job, how should we think about balancing career-consciousness vs. intellectual aspiration?
- Should every student study coding? Shakespeare? How will student confidence in their diploma be affected by the need to pursue high tuition “boot camp” programs to gain employment in competitive new economy jobs?
- Most employers use a college degree as a proxy for skills attainment; that confidence is perhaps the most important asset of higher education. If we lose this confidence either through outmoded curriculum or more reliable or more precise forms of skills assessment, what happens to the value of higher education?
- What is the role of experiential learning: internships, study abroad, undergraduate research?
- What pedagogies or newfangled approaches to the disciplines produce the kind of critical thinking that employers say they want? What is critical thinking, anyway?
Imagine a child of six today, graduating from high school in 2028. What do we think college will look like and how do we get ready for that student?
The course will be conducted in a seminar format, emphasizing class presentations and participation. There will be visitors drawn from leaders in higher education and technology. Students will interview students and leaders at other universities, as well as corporate leaders. Each seminar meeting will include a weekly lightning round, where each student will present an article/new study. Some may elect to be embedded with companies for group strategy projects.
As a final assignment, students will choose an area of innovation and present a case for CUNY adoption.
Undocumented, Illegal, Citizen: The Politics and Psychology of Belonging in the United States
Course Number: IDS 81620
This course will focus on the recent history of citizenship challenges, as related to contemporary migration and higher education. The current movements of people fleeing violence and injustice worldwide have been met with some innovative policies, yet also with fences, detentions, travel bans, and other means. After reviewing such migration patterns and reactions, we focus, in particular, on the politics and psychology of what it means to belong in the U.S. today, officially and unofficially. Interestingly, much of this process has been mediated in public higher education, especially the community college. Course topics include history of 21st century migration, the Dream Act, DACA, DAPA, state policies, social movements, human rights treaties, and critical education programs as mechanisms of change. We also consider diverse perspectives on the issues, such as by generations of refugees, unaccompanied children, sanctuary movements, and relevant contexts, primarily higher education but also agricultural and domestic employment, child/family detention centers, and public media. As an offering in the “Futures Initiative,” the course design will be adaptable to students’ interests. Pending student goals, for example, we will focus on projects such as a) considering different ways of thinking about contemporary migration and citizenship; b) examining databases of narratives, survey responses, and conversations by students and faculty reflecting on the role of the community college for belonging in America; c) developing methods for examining discriminatory language and action; d) curating debates in blogs about migration and human rights; e) interacting with initiatives like “CUNY Citizenship Now!” and Dreamer clubs; f) developing a tool kit of analytic methods sensitive to social science and humanities inquiries. The course involves reading scholarly articles, policy documents, reporting on relevant innovations, writing reflection papers, and designing practice-based research projects.
Change and Crisis in Universities: Research, Education, and Equity in Uncertain Times
Course Number: TBD
This course examines conditions that foster and hinder diversity at an institution where our faculty and students learn and work: the university. While teaching substantive content, we also model various teaching methods, including how to handle “hot” issues in the classroom and how to experiment with pedagogical techniques designed to maximize the potential of all students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This course explores the transformation of people’s everyday experiences at universities, as well as within society. We discuss the burgeoning literature on recent trends affecting universities, with special attention to how those trends exacerbate inequality along class, race/ethnicity and gender lines.
For over eight centuries, universities have served to advance knowledge; recently, their ranks and mission have expanded to include far more diverse interests and populations. But contemporary universities face multiple challenges. Particularly at public universities, austerity budgets have fostered skyrocketing tuition and student debt. Tenure-track faculty lines have eroded as contingent academic employment balloons. On-line teaching and virtual communication have expanded access but also raised concerns about the quality of higher education, student retention rates, and instructors’ workload. Social media has extended scholarship’s reach while eliciting greater scrutiny and trolling.
All these developments reflect the growing hegemony of a market logic emphasizing competition, limited state action, and entrepreneurialism. Universities are pressured to produce employable graduates even as the quality of jobs available deteriorates. Organizational rationalization captures faculty “productivity” in numbers of articles and books published, publication rankings and citations made, funding received, and sizes of classes taught. Meanwhile, vital work that sustains academia – service to the institution and profession, teaching, advising, and mentoring – disproportionally done by women and underrepresented minorities – is undervalued. Inequality has widened between elite universities where students have generous support and faculty have vast resources to advance their research and public institutions where students and faculty must “do more with less.”
As faculty ranks diversify with women and minority scholars, work-family issues and double standards of faculty evaluation are increasingly salient. Despite universities’ commitment to diversity, disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups remain underrepresented, especially among faculty. Students too encounter challenges, with contention about diversity and its meanings, microaggressions and harassment, discrimination, assaults, and violence roiling some campuses. Budget cuts threaten institutional support for the disadvantaged, truncating their life chances.
With these challenges, various countermovements seek to transform universities. Some university scholars have advocated “slow” scholarship, resisting organizational rationalization and technological alienation with values emphasizing quality and connection. At other universities, faculty and students have protested tuition increases, student debt, and work conditions. Adjuncts and other contingent faculty, as well as graduate students, have sought unionization to advance their interests. Students have demanded protections and attention to diversity issues.
No one has a greater stake in understanding the crisis of universities than GC graduate students. Most work as adjuncts and already encounter the challenges outlined above. Graduates all over who are fortunate enough to secure academic jobs are entering a vastly different academic workplace than their predecessors did. This course helps re-imagine possibilities for all.
Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication
Course Number: TBD
This course examines the inter-relationship between the Cold War, the early Civil Rights movement, and the writing and censorship of African American writers. By looking at a range of literary and theoretical texts, we will work to understand the relationship between a range of legal and social conditions and the forms of Black expression at that time. We will be looking at writers who were deeply involved in activism and the Civil Rights movement (such as W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson), writers who wrote against and around censorship especially of same-sex sexual and affective relationships (such as Chester Himes and James Baldwin), writers who had to leave America to write about it (including Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright and others), and writers, especially Black women writers, who did not have the freedom to leave the U.S. and who, for the most part, disappeared within America and to literary history (including Alice Childress and Ann Petry).
We will be using student-centered, activist, engaged pedagogy in this class to have students take an intellectual lead in shaping the content and the requirements of the course and will structure virtual and other platforms such that every student leaves with something published (online, in print, or in a conference paper), some pedagogical tools for their teaching, and other contributions to their graduate career and beyond. An especially exciting and fruitful project we hope to undertake is the excavation and editing of a forgotten text, now available only at the Schomburg Library, All in the Family by Thelma Wamble. Working with Prof Davidson, and with guidance from the Wikimedia Foundation, students will learn how to improve and create Wikipedia entries (including for Wamble) and build an online archive based on original research. Students will also have the opportunity to work with Prof Eversley on a contemporary edition of All in the Family.
Critical Perspectives on Childhood and Pedagogy
Course Number: TBD
Since the adoption of UN’s Rights of the Child in 1989, by all countries except the United States, the definition of “childhood” has spurred political and policy debate, new inquiry across the disciplines, and re-considerations of pedagogical strategies within childhood education. The new inquiry, often called “critical” childhood study, distances itself from the taken-for-granted, universalizing view of childhood that has been dominated by Western psychological and developmental perspectives. The pedagogical guidelines in the dominant models of early education in Euro-America are based on developmental milestones and skills that were identified as being important for children growing up and living in the United States.
Setting the context for the course is a focus on how childhood is influenced by broader processes of neoliberalism, globalization, institutionalization, consumerism, technological, and children/youth activism. Images of children and childhood are historically and socio-culturally constructed which permeate visual culture. A deeper examination of these images helps in understanding day-to-day relationships between adults and children, and about local educational theory and practice. Images of the child, notions of childhood, childrearing, and educational practices constructed within non-western cultural communities appear very different from the Euro-American images and often get ignored.
The course is particularly concerned with how global forces create postcolonial hybrid third spaces in classrooms within which hybrid pedagogies may emerge. Students will explore these practices in light of current ideologies about child-centeredness and demands for culturally relevant pedagogies (Gupta, 2013).
It is imperative for parents, teachers, administrators and policy makers working in the New York City school system to take into account the globally diverse backgrounds of students. Thus, course assignments and projects will be designed to work at two levels: 1) at the level of visual culture, challenging deficit, limiting and often damaging images of children and childhoods that diverge from Euro-American norms, and 2) at the classroom, pedagogical level.
In terms of visual culture, students will not only analyze and critique dominant constructions of childhood, but will also create new images and imaginings by remixing images on a social media platform, VoiceThread, and creating new images using a participatory Tumblr site. These remixed images will serve as a means to ask a broader public of teachers to answer back with videos, images, or texts that challenge stereotypes and taken-for-granted assumptions that limit or harm children’s lives and learning.
Students will also create a website/blog/online forum as a shared space for themselves as well as Pre-K teachers to showcase and discuss instances of child-centered pedagogy. Videos accompanied by narratives may be posted to examine questions like what does child-centeredness look like in a variety of classroom contexts? How are differences in cultural world views manifested in the adult-child relationship? How do teachers navigate the space between their own understanding and mainstream ideas on teaching and learning? How are ideas on child-centered learning and common core curricula brought together in a teacher’s practice? Underlying all these queries will be the attempt for graduate students and Pre-K teachers to recognize and identify a hybrid space that many teachers often encounter in their own classroom teaching. In this way the course will translate specialized research to a wider public.
Archive of past courses