“Mapping the Futures of Higher Education” Syllabus

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(IDS 70200)

Cross-listed: Anthropology (ANTH 80600); Art History (ART 80010); Comparative Literature (CL 80100); Critical Social/Personality Psychology; Earth and Environmental Sciences; English (ENGL 89010); Music; Urban Education (UED 75200)

Spring 2015 Tuesday 4:15-6:15

Professors Cathy Davidson and William Kelly

*3 or 4 credits (depending on the crosslisting department)

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.

Admission by Permission of the Instructor:  Only 12-15 students maximum will be admitted in this first course offering. The goal is to have as diverse a cohort as possible, with students coming from as many crosslisting departments as possible and also teaching at the widest possible range of CUNY colleges or community colleges during the Spring 2015 semester. To that end, students interested in taking the course will need to complete a simple survey with this information. Students seeking admission should apply online by December 4, 2014:

Students will be notified that they have been admitted to the course by December 10, 2014. Students not admitted to the course will be invited to take part in a non-credit series of public peer-learning workshops hosted by the course participants.

Please contact Ms. Lauren Melendez (, Administrative Specialist for the Futures Initiative, if you have any additional questions.



Because this is a peer-driven, student-led, cross-disciplinary course, the syllabus will be created by the class participants.  During the Fall 2014, a collaborative “syllabus” has been generated at a number of public events and will serve as a resource for the course:

All students in the course will be required to:

  • Work with a partner and, in tandem, be responsible for all aspects of one unit (presumably one class meeting) in the course. This might include (but is not restricted to):
    • Selecting and assigning a field-specific reading and one or two pedagogical readings (theoretical, practical, or both) applicable to innovative teaching in that field.
    • Designing one active, experiential, interactive, or other learning experience to help the students in IDS 70200 understand some aspect of their research
    • Serving as a guide and an adviser to all the graduate students in the class who will be adapting a version of this learning exercise in their own classes taught in one of the CUNY colleges or community colleges
    • Being the lead contributor to a full online lesson plan (with resources), assessment (qualitative or quantitative), discussion, analysis, or other public document that guides others beyond our course who may want to learn from this pedagogical experiment.

In addition, in lieu of a final research paper or a final exam, students will:

  • Write a syllabus for their own peer-led, collaborative course in their field and post it to our public website as a resource for others.
  • Contribute biweekly public blogs about how learning theory is working out in practice in their courses and how the pedagogy is or is not contributing to a fuller, richer model of higher education and knowledge for the benefit of society.
  • Guide their students in their own course in one of the CUNY colleges or community colleges through all the innovative experiments proposed by the other students in the class, including their participation in a public blog on which they offer constructive feedback on this collaborative learning effort.
  • Guide their students in participating in our joint project populating the portfolio of mapping and data visualization projects that we are calling the “CUNY Map of New York.”  We are aiming high: The purpose of this project is to make a public contribution to knowledge and to society.
  • Work with their students on a year-end final, project featuring their contribution to a CUNY Map of New York

For students taking the course for four credits, there is an additional assignment (optional for those taking the class for three credits):

  • Work with their students and colleagues in IDS 70200 for some final, collaborative, public presentation of the whole “Mapping the Futures of Higher Education” project in an onsite exhibit at the Graduate Center.


We are working on assessment methods as complex and varied as the course. We will be adding a section on assessment after our Dec 8 workshop with Dr. Anthony Picciano.


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