2019-2020 Team-Taught Courses

The Futures Initiative is pleased to announce our 2019-2020 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. This year, we are introducing a new aspect element: a focus on innovative introductory or required graduate courses. The courses will complement our public programming in the ongoing University Worth Fighting For series. Faculty Fellows were selected in a CUNY-wide competition.

Students across CUNY and from all disciplinary backgrounds are welcome to register for Futures Initiative team-taught courses. Students in graduate programs at other CUNY campuses should apply for an e-permit following the guidelines at their home institutions. The Futures Initiative also gladly participates in the Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium (download this PDF for information about the IUDC Coordinator’s office at your home school). Non-degree students should follow the registration guidelines set forth by the Registrar at the Graduate Center.

Please contact Katina Rogers, Director of Administration and Programs at the Futures Initiative, at krogers [at] gc.cuny.edu if you have any questions about our upcoming courses or the registration process.

Fall 2019

  1. Voices of the City (Profs. Tarry Hum and Prithi Kanakamedala)
  2. Climate Change and Discursive Frames (Profs. David Lindo Atichati and José del Valle)
  3. Interdisciplinary Topics in Law: Mothers in Law (Profs. Sara McDougall and Julie Suk)
  4. Transformations of Modernity, 1914-present (Profs. Karen Miller and Andrea Morrell)

Spring 2020

  1. Introduction to Engaged Teaching for Transformative Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Profs. Cathy N. Davidson and Eduardo Vianna)
  2. Psychological Dis-ease Swelling in Contentious Times (Profs. Desiree Byrd and Michelle Fine)


Voices of the City: accessibility, reciprocity, and self-representation in place-based community research

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

Fall 2019, Thursdays, 2-4pm
Course Number: IDS 81620

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.

Climate Change and Discursive Frames: From Scientific Discourse to the Public Sphere

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

Fall 2019, Tuesdays, 11:45am-1:45pm
Course Number: IDS 81630

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.

Interdisciplinary Topics in Law: Mothers in Law (MALS 70400)

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

Fall 2019, Mondays, 11:45am-1:45pm
Course Number: IDS 81640; MALS 70400

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.

Transformations of Modernity, 1914-present

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

Fall 2019, Thursdays, 4:15-6:15pm
Course Number: IDS 81650; MALS 70800

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.


Introduction to Engaged Teaching for Transformative Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences

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

Day/Time: Thursdays, 2-4pm
Course Number: IDS 81670
Cross-listed: ENGL 89000-1; PSYC 80103-5; MALS 78500-2

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 being developed on hastac.org: (https://www.hastac.org/blogs/ckatopodis/2019/01/11/progressive-pedagogy-public-working-bibliography)

Psychological Dis-ease Swelling in Contentious Times: Contributors, sustainers, and resisters

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

Spring 2020, Wednesdays, 9:30 – 11:30am
Course Number: IDS 81680
Cross-listed: PSYC 80103-4

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.

Archive of past courses