Category Archives: Community

Fellows Project: Engaging Thoughtfully in Public Discourse: An Examination of Unconscious Bias

Organized by Sarah Bishop (Baruch College), Susan Kuhn (Queens College); Victoria Perez-Rios (John Jay College), and Amy Traver (Queensborough Community College). 

Unconscious bias is a human reflex to make assumptions about people that aren’t necessarily true. This tendency affects society as a whole, limits our understanding of others, and holds us back from achieving the best possible outcomes across all fields of discipline, ranging from business to sociology, communication to criminal justice. As educators in the liberal arts, the four of us were interested not only in the effect of this phenomenon in our respective fields, but also how it affects our classrooms, our students, and our communities. We wanted to study this in partnership with our students, in the hope and belief that real change is possible when deeply rooted in thoughtful and inclusive educational practices.

As teachers, we recognize that true learning takes place when knowledge is absorbed, engaged with, and applied. We undertook this process together with our students through a series of structured, scaffolded learning opportunities. On April 1, we attended a book talk via Zoom, sponsored by the University of Buffalo Gender Institute, featuring Jessica Nordell, author of The End of Bias: A Beginning – The Science and Practice of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. In our individual classrooms, we continued the discussion as it pertained to our disciplines, and then invited students to produce short videos of themselves sharing some of their unconscious bias experiences or learning outcomes. Our ultimate project was a one-hour, student-led live panel discussion on this topic, with a supporting student audience, held at John Jay College on Thursday, April 21.

The local television show presented here represents a compilation of the taped student panel discussion (including audience participation) and the video uploads. The content is entirely driven by the concerns and voices of our students at Baruch, Queens, QCC and John Jay. They share personal stories and reflect on how unconscious bias affects them in their families, neighborhoods and perspective careers. The show was edited, produced and directed by John Jay graduate student Masha Wickramasinghe. We professors, having ignited the discussion, are now audience members learning from our students.

Our CUNY motto states “The education of free people is the hope of humanity.” All of us involved in this project have learned a great deal about unconscious bias, and we believe the conversation has only started. We hope you enjoy learning more about this too, and that from this hope blooms change. Enjoy the show!

*A link to view the TV Show is forthcoming, it will be added to this blog post this June!

Fellows Project: (Re)Mapping Knowledge

Organized by Kimberley D. McKinson (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), Tatiana Nuñez (Graduate Center and City College) Micheal Rumore (Baruch College) and Stefanie Wess (Lehman College, Hunter College and Queensborough Community College).

(Re)Mapping Knowledge is a student-faculty collaborative podcast project that showcases the creative scholarship of CUNY students and also serves as a critical pedagogical tool for the wider CUNY community. Featuring the creative scholarship and storytelling of CUNY undergraduate students, this four-episode podcast series highlights innovative and radical pedagogical approaches as well as the possibilities that emerge from incorporating student-produced and student-centered knowledge in the classroom.

Drawing on the writing and research of student-scholars, episodes 1-3 of the project highlight different pedagogical approaches to (re)mapping knowledge in the classroom. Episode 1 interrogates the relationship between self, community, language, and textuality. Episode 2 discusses classroom strategies for confronting the coloniality of literary traditions. Episode 3 uses student autoethnography to center embodied knowledge as decolonial pedagogy. Episode 4 of the project features a moderated conversation between the three Faculty Fellows on the themes, teaching tools, and strategies illuminated in Episodes 1-3. In this way, Episode 4 not only serves to frame Episodes 1-3 but also serves as an accompanying teaching tool in its own right, including a discussion of innovative approaches to teaching and reading canonical texts.

(Re)Mapping Knowledge provides CUNY students and teachers the opportunity to problematize the notion of the canon and also allow for meditations on the radical ways in which knowledge can be produced by students in the classroom. The episodes capture student scholarship in a rich way. As a pedagogical tool, (Re)Mapping Knowledge provides an example of how faculty can embrace podcasts as a means by which to embrace different sensorial teaching tools that can complement more traditional written texts.

Website screenshot showing five student group projects

The Museum of Us: Student Projects from Arts in NYC at Baruch College

TLH Faculty Fellow Cheryl Smith (English, Baruch College) teaches a course called, Arts in NYC, which is a humanities seminar for first-year students. The final project for the course was a group curation project of an online exhibit around a theme of their choice. Their exhibits are gathered together in what the students chose to call “The Museum of Us.”

Professor Smith tells us,

“This project was profoundly shaped by our work together in the TLH Seminar—our discussions and readings. I see the focus on empathy, care, creativity, voice, and representation emerge in these projects. I’m proud of the work my students did and grateful I could provide a space for nurturing it; I think they were genuinely proud of their work, too. It’s been a long, hard semester for many of us, and it’s so nice to end on this kind of positive note.”

You can view the student group projects on their website (opens in a new window). Projects are titled, “Plugged In: The Playlists of the Pandemic,” ‘“I”dentity,’ “Baruch 25 Student Journal: New Beginnings,” “Pandemic-Centric Inclusivity,” and “Tranquility in a City that Never Sleeps.” Thank you, Dr. Smith and students for sharing your impressive work from the semester!

Community Access and Equity in Health Education – Video from Student Projects

How do we define health? How do we access resources to maintain and promote healthy lives in our communities? This project explores these questions through community maps created by Urban Community Health students from Guttman Community College CUNY, which explore both resources and barriers to health in their home communities around the city. Challenging the model of individual responsibility and behavior change often prevalent in public health approaches, the maps provide a more equitable approach to health understandings and health education.

The opening event premiered this video featuring the students’ narration of their maps, in addition to a display of the maps themselves, both video and exhibit invite consideration of intertwined issues between political, educational, and media environments. We are evolving design for displays of information to facilitate dialogue and understanding between policy makers and stakeholders, to educate about inequities in health resources around the city, and expand ideas of how we might define and promote health more holistically in all communities.

08 community health mapping

No Description

Thank you to TLH Faculty Fellows, Kristina Baines (Social Sciences and Anthropology, Guttman Community College), Anita Cheng (Film & Media, Art, Hunter College and Brooklyn College), Helen Chang (Behavioral and Social Sciences, Hostos Community College) and Kathleen Tamayo Ales (English, Queensborough Community College) for sharing the potential of community mapping for teaching about social structures that impact our health and wellbeing.

A whiteboard and video display showing student community mapping projects A video display screen showing the video linked in this blog post. Several people are in the background. Visitors to the exhibit view the student community health mapping projects Students from the class pose in front of their presentations Dr. Anita Chang stands next to the video display monitor and speaks with her arms outstretched. She is wearing a face mask and winter coat. Several students for the class pose for a photo. They are all wearing face masks and winter coats. A student poses in front of the video monitor, where they are also on the screen.

Exploring Bravery in the Classroom

Bravery is not often discussed in the classroom, but it takes a certain amount of bravery to overcome fears that students and teachers may feel. How are supportive and inviting classrooms cultivated to help students overcome their hesitation to participate?

On December 2, 2021, TLH hosted this 1-hour interactive panel discussion with four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Heather Huggins (Queensborough Community College), Alyse Keller (Kingsborough Community College), Susan Phillip (New York City College of Technology), and Tom Zlabinger (York College). In the first part of the event, each panelist shared their unique experiences and expertise cultivating bravery in the classroom followed by open dialogue with attendees, which was not recorded.

The presentations incorporate feedback on the topic from Huggins, Keller, Zlabinger, and Phillips’ students, and provide a breadth of perspectives and ideas for how to encourage courage. Thank you all for organizing this thoughtful and thought-provoking event.

Bravery in the Classroom

On December 2, 2021, Transformative Learning in the Humanities hosted this 1-hour interactive panel discussion with four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Heather …

Creating Communities of Care in our Classrooms – Event Recap and Recording

This 1-hour interactive, peer-to-peer workshop featured four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Lara Saguisag (College of Staten Island), Jason Hendrickson (LaGuardia Community College), Reiko Tahara (Hunter College), and Cheryl C. Smith (Baruch College). It was an opportunity to have an honest dialogue with students and colleagues about some of the experiments the fellows have been doing to create communities of care in their classrooms. Presentation titles are: “Students Perception of Care in the Classroom” (Saguisag); “Language as (Em)Power(Ment)” (Hendrickson); “Student-led Classrooms as a Practice of Care” (Tahara); and “Poetry as a Practice of Care” (Smith). After the the presentations (10min each), the rest of the hour was spent hearing from participants and engaging in student-centered discussions about creating learning communities of care.

Watch now:

Creating Communities of Care in our Classrooms

This 1-hour interactive, peer-to-peer workshop featured four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Cheryl C. Smith (Baruch College), Jason Hendrickson (LaGuardia Commu…

Understanding and Building Collective Efficacy

This post was written by Contributing Authors Tim Leonard and Leigh Somerville

The purpose of this blog post is to provide a brief overview of the concept of collective efficacy and share some practical examples of what it can look like in the classroom setting. As well, we provide several open-source documents that may be helpful in reflection and instructional planning. 

What is collective efficacy? In short, it is when a team of individuals share the belief that, through their combined efforts, they can overcome challenges and positively impact student achievement and success. Continue reading

Moving Toward Dis/Comfort (Event Recap)

This post was written by Contributing Authors Karen Zaino (Secondary Education and Youth Services, Queens College), Azreen Hasan, Emily Ram, Maria Sultana, and Ahmad Zeidieh.

During this session, which was part of Dean Dana Fusco’s Will to Change series in the Queens College School of Education, I worked with four undergraduate students to facilitate a workshop on “moving toward dis/comfort” in classroom conversations. We use the term “dis/comfort” to signal the importance of recognizing different positions and comfort levels within the classroom, where “comfort” and “discomfort” are shorthand for the affective experience of material injustice. For many students–particularly minoritized students–classrooms have long been “uncomfortable” places that dismiss, demean, or erase their ways of knowing and lived experiences. Therefore, this workshop focused on how we might critically consider the distribution of comfort in a classroom setting – who is comfortable? At whose expense? – and use a series of “talk moves” to shift the hegemonic distribution of comfort and discomfort. These moves were adapted from the recent book Classroom Talk for Social Change by Melissa Schieble, Amy Vetter, and Kahdeidra Monét Martin. Continue reading

UnHomeless NYC: Sharing the Value of Community-Based Education

This post was written by Contributing Authors Midori Yamamura and Tommy Mintz and edited by Jason Leggett.

“That was the best of all the webinars and whatever I’ve been clocking into!”

“This was a very powerful conversation on the topic of homelessness. The biggest takeaway for me is to hear this topic approached from grassroots and not top-down perspective.”

These reactions came from participants of UnHomeless NYC: an information session. This two-day workshop examined homelessness with artists, community activists, students, educators, and attendees in dialogue around activities leading up to a public exhibition in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022 at Kingsborough Community College. Together, educators across disciplines along with students, activists and artists are transforming educational spaces to critically reflect about perceptions of homelessness as agency for social change. As one activist, Manon Vergerio, reflected after the event, the voices from the street can be a powerful pedagogical tool that triggers us to see things differently, not just scholars writing for other scholars. Continue reading

Creating Community Media: A Panel Discussion between Asian American Filmmaking and Activism (Event Recap)

This post was written by Contributing Author Alex Ho, who teaches in the Center for Ethnic Studies at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC).

When I worked at the Museum of Chinese in America, we would use one of the first photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown, “An Unsuspecting Victim” by Arnold Genthe, to show how an author’s intent through what they choose to show and to hide and to editorialize would affect the impression a photograph could give a viewer. The photograph is stripped of the other white Americans, darkened, and given dimensions much more familiar to our vertical-video smartphone world. It jibes with a persistent fantasy about ethnic enclaves like Chinatown–that they are mysterious and dangerous for white America. Continue reading