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GUIDE Program Courses

    GUIDE Program

    GUIDE Program Courses:  Fall 2017

    At the start of the sophomore year, eight BMCC students will enter the GUIDE program as GUIDE Finalists. Each finalist will enroll in one NYU Gallatin course focused on social justice during the Fall semester.

    A strong component of Gallatin’s curriculum is the study of social justice, which is understood broadly to include a variety of fields and approaches, including but not limited to: social movements, law and governance, urban democracy, economics, identity formation, political literature and art, arts activism, and environmental concerns.

    The course will introduce GUIDE students to the nature of interdisciplinary study and make visible the array of academic fields that engage social justice.

    GUIDE program Finalists will be able to enroll in one of the following seminars in Fall 2017.

    Site-Specific Performance: Art, Activism and Public Space

    ARTS-UG 1080

    Instructor: Martha Bowers

    Course meeting day/time:  Thursdays 9:30 AM - 12:15 PM


    This course looks at the development of site-specific performance with a special emphasis on projects that engage with social issues and include activist agendas. “Site-specific” is a term frequently associated with the visual arts but since the Happenings of the ’60s and ’70s, a body of work termed “site-specific performance” has evolved as highly structured works of art that are designed around, for or because of place and associated communities. As site artists confront the matrix of social forces and overlapping communities that relate to a given site, their aesthetics, creative process and goals have shifted. How are they blurring the lines between art and activism, art and urban renewal, art and real life? This arts workshop will emphasize making site work by completing a progressive series of studies, using various artistic mediums. We will also be reading about and viewing site work by seminal artists in this field. This course is recommended to adventurous students with interests and some training in at least one of the following mediums: dance, theatre, spoken word poetry, media, photography and/or visual art. Readings include texts by Suzanne Lacy; Jan Cohen Cruz; Bertie Ferdman, among others.

    Dramatizing History I

    ARTS-UG 1575

    Instructor: Kristoffer Diaz     

    Course meeting day/time:  Fridays 12:30 PM - 3:15 PM


    How does the dramatist bring alive an historical epoch to enliven a work for stage, film or television? What elements are essential to create a compelling narrative? Should the characters be actual people or fictionalized composites? And what ethical issues are raised in such decision making? In this arts workshop students will embark on a journey to bring alive and shape stories that hold personal significance. Whether the tales are connected to family, culture, gender or ‘race’ memory, there are certain steps that may enhance the creation and development of dramatic work based on historical information. The goal, based on the student’ work, is the fully develop the outline of the story. Readings may include texts by Anne Bogart, Anna Deavere Smith, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sarah Ruhl, Robert Schenkkan, and Jackie Sibblies Drury, among others.

    Lyrics on Lockdown

    ARTS-UG 1593

    Instructor: Piper Anderson

    Course meeting day/time:  Mondays 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM (additional meeting times - please see Note below)


    Rates of detention amongst girls in the US continue to increase even as overall rates of incarceration amongst youth have steadily declined in the last decade. Yet, because girls represent a proportionally smaller population within the juvenile justice system fewer resources are allocated to address the underlying causes of incarceration and recidivism amongst young women ages 12-19. This course investigates the causes and consequences of incarceration amongst girls and women. In this course students, design and facilitate an arts and education program for incarcerated girls. What are the unique concerns presented by incarcerated female populations? What must we understand about the policing of gender and sexuality in order to meet the needs of incarcerated girls and women? What role does trauma play in the experiences of girls remitted to the juvenile justice system? What is the role of the arts in empowering incarcerated youth? Exploring these and other questions enables students to better understand the role of the Prison Industrial Complex in defining and policing gender roles and sexual minorities. Readings include Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison-Industrial Complex by Julia Sudbury; Queer Injustice by Andrea Ritchie, and Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd. This course requires 5 Saturday morning workshops at Rikers Island from April-May.


    Students are expected to attend a mandatory facilitation training on Saturday, October 14th. Workshop sessions in the detention facility will be on Saturday mornings Nov 4th-Dec 9th with the exception of Thanksgiving. Students must be available for three workshop sessions.

    The Qur'an

    IDSEM-UG 1357

    Instructor: Sinan Antoon

    Course meeting day/time:  Mondays 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM


    The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

    Creative Democracy: The Pragmatist Tradition

    IDSEM-UG 1381

    Instructor: Bill Caspary          

    Course meeting day/time: Wednesdays 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM


    From Emerson, through William James, to John Dewey, and beyond, Pragmatism has been a uniquely American contribution to political theory and philosophy. The pragmatists are concerned with action in the world, to address “the problems of men and women.” They construct a philosophy for understanding and guiding that action. That philosophy values imaginative vision and exploratory experimentation. It looks forward to the new rather than dwelling on explaining, justifying, or condemning what exists. Pragmatism, like classical political theory, is concerned with politics as a way of achieving a good society, in which people can lead good lives. It does not view politics narrowly in terms only of elections and governments. Reading pragmatism as philosophy, in the first half of the course we will consider ethics, theory of knowledge, theory of science and social science, and put these in the service of democratic theory. Through the lens of the “Dewey-Lippmann controversy” we will consider the capacity of citizens for informed responsible participation. In the second half of the course we will consider democratic experiments: economic democracy, civic journalism, progressive education, participatory action research, and conflict resolution. Possible readings include Emerson’s “The American Scholar;” James’s “Moral Equivalent of War;” Dewey’s  The Public and Its Problems , “Creative Democracy,” and “The Economic Basis of the New Society;” Walter Lippmann's  Public Opinion , Jay Rosen's.  What Are Journalists For , William & Katherine Whyte's,  Making Mondragon , and so on.

    Feminism, Empire and Postcoloniality

    IDSEM-UG 1523

    Instructor: Marie Cruz Soto

    Course meeting days/times:  Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM


    Jamaica Kincaid once said, “I now consider anger as a badge of honor. [It is] the first step to claiming yourself.” Anger, rather than Betty Friedan’s “problem that has no name,” has haunted the life of many women whose negotiations of the meaning of gender, race and sexuality are marked by the violence of colonial-imperial encounters. Accordingly, this course examines the following questions: How have colonial-imperial encounters shaped the imagination of gender, race and sexuality? How have women built feminist solidarities amidst, or perhaps based on, the shared experience of violence and anger? In turn, how has the imagination of gender, race and sexuality redefined the histories of colonies and empires? To pursue these questions, course readings include literary and other scholarly texts engaging feminist and postcolonial theory. Readings range from Kincaid’s  The Autobiography of My Mother  and Rigoberta Menchú’s  I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala  to other texts by scholars like Uma Narayan, Patricia Mohammed, Vandana Shiva, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Ann Stoler.

    Consumerism in Comparative Perspective

    IDSEM-UG 1586

    Instructor: Kimberly DaCosta

    Course meeting day/time:  Thursdays 9:30 AM - 12:15 PM


    Consumerism—the linking of happiness, freedom, and economic prosperity with the purchase and consumption of goods—has long been taken for granted as constitutive of the “good life” in Western societies. Increasingly, global economic shifts have made it possible for some developing countries to engage in patterns of consumption similar to those in the West, such that one quarter of humanity now belongs to the “global consumer class.” At the same time, however, nearly three billion people struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. This course takes an international and interdisciplinary approach to examine consumption in different societies, and we do so by asking several central questions: What are the key determinants of patterns of consumption, and how are they changed or reshaped over time? In turn, how do patterns of consumption shape class formation, racial inequality, identity, aesthetic sensibility, and international boundaries? How do practices of consumption inform the ways in which people understand their values and individuality, imagine success and failure, or conceive happiness? By reading widely in sociology, anthropology, and history we will develop a framework for analyzing the ethical, environmental and social justice implications of consumerism. Readings include case studies from the US, China, India, Europe and Africa Some likely authors include: Veblen, Keynes, Marx; Twitchell; Sut Jhally; Bill McKibben; Arlie Hochschild, Lizabeth Cohen.

    Government and the Economy: What Every Citizen Should Know

    IDSEM-UG 1768

    Instructor: Ngina Chiteji            

    Course meeting day/time: Tuesdays 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM


    What are the different ways that the government intervenes in the economy? Why is government intervention so controversial in the United States? In this course students will learn how an economy functions at the macroeconomic level while also learning about the structure of the U.S. government and the way that the political process shapes economic policies. Our goal is to study the national economy in a way that situates basic economic insights in a political and historical context in order to fully understand the legislative and institutional environment in which policy decisions are made; and existing programs, policies, and outcomes, such as the Social Security Program, state and federal welfare programs, , the Federal Reserve's policies , and the $1.1 trillion budget deficit. The course combines conceptual and quantitative approaches to its subject matter. Readings may include David Wessel, Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget; Benjamin Bernanke, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis; and The US Constitution.

    Black Lives Matter: Race, Resistance and Popular Protest

    IDSEM-UG 1849

    Instructor: Frank Roberts

    Course meeting day/time:  Thursdays 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM


    The age of the Obama Presidency has been plagued by a number of highly publicized police cases involving the shooting of unarmed black citizens at the hands of law enforcement and/or local vigilantes. In the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Vonderrick Myers, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and others, the recent #blacklivesmatter movement has emerged largely in response to histories of state sanctioned violence against black and brown bodies. This seminar links the #blacklivesmatter” movement to four broader phenomena: 1) the rise of the U.S. prison industrial complex and the increasing militarization of inner city communities, 2) the role of media in influencing national conversations about race and racism, 3) the state of racial justice activism in the purportedly “post-racial” Obama Presidency, and 4) the increasingly populist nature of decentralized protest movements in the U.S. We will debate and engage with a variety of topics, including the moral ethics of “looting” and riotous forms of protest; violent vs. nonviolent civil disobedience; the media myth of “black on black” crime; coalitional politics and the black feminist and LGBTQ underpinnings of the #blacklivesmatter movement; comparisons between the blacklivesmatter movement and the U.S. civil rights movement; and the dynamics of political protest among the millennial and post-millennial generations. Readings will likely include writings by Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, James Cone, Osaygefo Sekou, Imani Perry, Frederick Harris. Our reading material will also be supplemented by guest speakers and media activists who have played prominent roles in the blacklivesmatter movement.

    Imagining Justice

    IDSEM-UG 1886

    Instructor: Myisha Priest          

    Course meeting day/time: Wednesdays 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM


    Cultural work is political imagining. This course asks just where the picture of a just world comes from. The common link between recent political movements like Occupy, Black Lives Matter, contemporary radical feminisms and queer politics is the claim that justice is not for everyone. Through events, actions and statements, movements urge us to see who is left out of the collective imagination of a just world. The creative work of our culture, as much as much as any political document or decree, teaches us what justice is and whom it is for. This means that it is crucial for us to examine how novels, film, exhibitions, memorials and events represent histories of political change and the achievement of justice. Our time is ripe for this exploration, since in the last few years we have been inundated with work in many genres that represent the anniversaries of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, LGBTQ movements and more. Who do these narratives teach us that justice is for, and what happens to those who fall out of their view? We will investigate a range of texts, considering how they uphold or limit forms of justice and also how they intervene against those limits. A range of primary and secondary texts might include Morrison's  Beloved , Walker's  Meridian , Baldwin's  The Fire Next Time , Coates's  Between the World and Me , and the recent films  Selma  and  12 Years a Slave. 

    Deconstructing the Wall: A Critical Examination of Current Issues in Education

    IDSEM-UG 1888

    Instructor: Benjamin Brooks

    Course meeting days/times:  Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM


    This course will explore foundational philosophies of education and theories of learning to develop a vocabulary by which we can examine current controversies and debates about education in both K-12 and higher education. We will begin with core texts addressing the purpose of education in a democratic society, then analyze education sociologically, through questions like: Does education reproduce class divisions or enable social mobility? And more broadly, does education simply reproduce dominant social norms or does it enable social change? We will then engage modern texts drawing heavily from critical pedagogists, to examine contemporary issues in education, including the corporatization of schooling, the charter school movement, the relationship between poverty and educational access, the recently passed  Every Student Succeeds Act  and the use of high stakes testing, freedom of expression and diversity on college campuses, the impact of technology on learning, and the concept of school safety in its many forms. In turn, students will be able reflect on and critically engage their own educations and academic choices, while seeing the politics involved in determining the goals of education, what students are required to learn, and how the resources for learning are defined and distributed. Readings for this course may include Dewey,  Experience and Education ; Freire,  Pedagogy of the Oppressed ; hooks,  Teaching to Transgress ; Kozol,  The Shame of the Nation;  and Spring,  The American School ; as well as work by Apple, Bok, Darling-Hammonds, Durkheim, Giroux, Noddings, Tatum, and Weber. 

    Insistence and Possibility: New and Alternate Economy Projects in 21st Century New York

    PRACT-UG 1480

    Instructor: Mark Read

    Course meeting days/times: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:55 PM - 6:10 PM


    There are approximately 67 worker-owned cooperatives currently operating in New York City, as well as numerous collective housing projects, intentional communities, community gardens, urban farms, and participatory budgeting initiatives. These represent a fast growing trend in New York, and nationally. What ethical principles or ideological positions do such projects hold in common, if any? What desires, needs and aspirations do they attempt to address? Do they form a challenge to capitalism, do they see themselves as operating outside of it, or both? Upon what kinds of possibility do such projects and initiatives ultimately insist? In this class, students will examine the social, political and historical trajectories of which these projects and initiatives are a part, through weekly reading and writing assignments, group presentations, and vigorous conversation. As community- engaged learners and participant-researchers, students will be asked to engage directly and deeply with a specific ongoing new/alternative economy project in the city, selected from a long and growing list. Students will prepare reports to present to the class as their participation-research unfolds. The culminating project of the course will be a research-based paper, presentation or art project of the students’ design. Collaboration will be encouraged.