Participatory Action Research in the Borderlands: Research and Pedagogy for the Americas, (Fall, 2017)

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)

Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15pm
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.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309