During one of our first TLH seminars, we discussed what it means to treat students with care. What does it mean? What doesn’t it?
Inspired by the work of Hooks and other feminist theories and frameworks, Pedagogies of Care emphasize creating supportive environments and fostering positive relationships in the classroom. They focus on empathy and compassion in the classroom. They prioritize relationship building, emotional support, inclusive practices, authentic engagement, empowerment, and agency. Pedagogies of Care ask us to remember that our students are real people, people with thoughts and feelings and fears, all which can (and do) affect their learning experiences. In short, what we said on that day in the seminar stuck with us: How we connect with our students (each and every one of them!) is something fundamental, something crucial – it creates the bonds between us within the classroom. Care matters. Continue reading →
On April 27 Transformative Learning in the Humanities welcomed poet, scholar, and performer Tracie Morris, MFA, PhD, to the CUNY Graduate Center for the final event in our 2022-23 speaker series. For Morris, the first Black tenured professor in the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the moment was also a homecoming. She is a double CUNY alum and native New Yorker. Speaking to an audience of CUNY students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the local community, Morris explored the ways Black Studies professor Myrna Bain and other Hunter College faculty shaped her, linking affordable public education to the love of learning for its own sake. “CUNY allowed for a merging,” she reflected, the creation of “a philosophy of life.” Invoking artistic influences Sonia Sanchez and Sweet Honey in the Rock, Morris infused her talk with poems from her new collection, human/nature poems. One of the few sound poets working today, Morris concluded by voicing a new sound poem, “apple,” in collaboration with the event’s American Sign Language interpreters. A question and answer period was followed by a celebratory reception for the diverse TLH community built over the past three years of the Andrew Mellon funded initiative.
In 2021, the Baruch Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) launched the CUNY 1969 Project, an interactive Open Educational Resource (OER) platform that explores the history of the 1969 Five Demands student protest movement, which fought for policies to reconstitute the racial composition of incoming CUNY students. Through the curation of historical texts, recordings, and interviews, the project provides an applied showcase of CUNY’s institutional archives that can be used in classrooms across CUNY.
From the student movements of the 1960s to the recent demands for antiracist classrooms and pedagogies, CUNY’s history of activism often remains frozen in archives and does not get passed down to its undergraduates. The work of the CUNY 1969 Project seeks to grapple with this problem by engaging CUNY stakeholders to reanimate the history of student activism at the university, re-engage with the archives that store it, and pass this knowledge down to students.
On February 8th of this year, with support from the Transformative Learning in the Humanities Grant (2023), we hosted and recorded a panel of three experts who have used the CUNY 1969 Project in their teaching and research. Panelists and attendees were invited to reflect on this history, teaching opportunities across disciplines, and the possibilities of students’ own agency within the university.
You can view the panel here:
And thanks in part to funding from the Transformative Learning in the Humanities Grant (2023) and the OER Initiatives Grant (2022, 2023), the CTL has been able to host a June “CUNY 1969 Teach-in and Retreat” program, first in 2022 and again this year. The retreat brings together CUNY scholars to closely examine the narrative, debates, and histories of open admissions at CUNY and the lasting legacies of student and faculty activism.
Over four weeks in June 2023, the second CUNY 1969 Teach-in will host a cohort of subject matter experts in CUNY institutional history, using and teaching with library archives, Creative Commons licensing, and undergraduate student research. Following the format of our successful (but Baruch-focused, due to more limited resources) Summer 2022 Teach-in, our Summer 2023 programming will facilitate synchronous and asynchronous instruction, discussion, and presentation on CUNY history, with a particular focus on student activism towards a more just and equitable university.
Teach-in participants will collaborate over open-access educational resources associated with the CUNY 1969 Project that interact with their interests, such as a lesson plan or assignment for future instructors using CUNY 1969 Project material.
Community partnerships—among departments, organizations, CUNY faculty and staff, and alumni—have been essential to the CUNY 1969 Project. The previous Teach-in created needed space for mindful conversations about CUNY’s history and future. Receiving the TLH grant has allowed us to scale up this project’s reach to a CUNY-wide community of teachers and scholars in the humanities and social sciences. We seek to support and develop instructors across CUNY who want to engage their students and peers in conversations and activities related to the activist history of our institution as well as, more broadly, transformative learning in higher education.
We invite you to check out the CUNY 1969 Project and join our efforts to center the university’s own complex history of students, faculty, staff, teaching, and learning.
—Hamad Sindhi and Seth Graves, CUNY 1969 Project Managers
We had the opportunity to present the workshop Equity through Creativity: Examples of Transformative Teaching Across the Disciplines, in which each of our colleagues and their students collaborated in multiple ways. The main goal of this workshop was to highlight, communicate, and share the ways in which we engage with our students in the classroom, particularly using multiple creative outlets, such as visual arts, film and documentaries, inclusive pedagogy/teaching, and literacy narrative. Our workshop brought experiences centered in multidisciplinary approaches, and student-centered pedagogy, with the ultimate goals of fostering equity, inclusivity, and critical thinking when centering student voices in our classrooms. Continue reading →
Our podcast series “Counternarratives – Storytelling: The Lived Experiences of CUNY Students,” stems from the Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship, at the City of New York (CUNY). This series centers CUNY students’ experiences around topics such as the socialization around education, of immigration, gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, family, and mental health within multiple community settings. The goal of this student-centered project was for TLH Student Scholars to experiment with creating storylines that draw on participatory methodologies anchored in decolonial and social justice practices such as explorative narration, (auto)ethnography, and creative writing. The four episodes that constitutes this TLH student scholars produced podcast series allow insight into the way personal perceptions around pressing course topics such as education, democracy, anti- immigrants/refugees, and anti-Blackness relate to larger geopolitical power, institutional racism and violence. Continue reading →
Shifting Mindsets Through Assessments: A Two-Part Dialogue
A TLH podcast project by: Carolina Julian, Jessica Nicoll, Luis Feliciano, and Theodore Kesler
As a group, we were curious about shifting assessment practices in our classrooms. Whether in psychology, math, early childhood education, or dance courses, we aligned in our goal to encourage students to take ownership of the learning. To this aim, we focused our energies into creating classrooms that foster deep listening, observation, responsiveness to our students, culturally-responsive teaching practices, self-evaluation opportunities, and co-construction of course content. We learned more about what each individual brought into the classroom–from names, to lived experiences, and areas of curiosity–and emphasized the need for our students to learn from one another and build a dialogic community through practical, active approaches. We also consciously structured our courses to include student leadership opportunities, through which students developed their capacities to ask “who has the power?”, and to take greater responsibility for their learning. Continue reading →
Inspired by Lorgia García Peña’s book, Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color, our group (Karanja Carroll, Tara Coleman, Alexis Jemal, and Erica Roe) elected to explore community-building as our public knowledge project. The purpose of this project was threefold: 1) We aimed to center for the voices of our students. 2) We wanted the project to build community through the discussion of community building and the sharing of community-building strategies. 3) We wanted to create a repository of community-building techniques, suggestions, critiques, and offerings. The project consisted of creating an Instagram account for people to post their responses to questions and organizing a virtual launch on zoom on 12/6/22, 4 – 5 PM. Continue reading →
What I seek (from law school) is the proliferation of a community that is guided by more than just monetary gain. I believe there is an issue with many traditional schools wherein subjects of law are taught at face value, ignoring historical and political analysis behind the way things are—and the way things ought to be. Law school should be a means of birthing individuals that are people-centered. Further, it should create a means of creating individuals that seek to better the world they participate in.
To create a professional community, as a 1L, [I] would love to see more community spaces/times for us as a cohort to meet in person, and discuss freely/openly. We need an opportunity to discuss our classes, court decisions, the profession, social movements/protests, etc. in an open forum that anyone can attend and is not directly related to our class times. A space & time just for us.
I believe in the notion that a person is a person through other people. Therefore, in regards to the value or purpose of community in & out of the classroom I seek sources that are helpful in the development & expansion of my personhood & hermeneutic horizon. I seek diversity of knowledge, perspective, experience & culture, so that I can learn & grow through any community & hopefully contribute to positive growth for those around me.
How can lawyers cultivate build create community?
Listening. Learning. Organizing.
Lawyering is a tool that can be wielded to shore up power. Historically, it has been used to shore up power on the side of white supremacy & capital. I believe it can be used in the interest of equity, prying the hands of racism/white supremacy culture off of community, humanity, and mutual aid.
By meaningfully LISTENING to our clients and those around us a lawyer can LEARN how harm is perpetuated and also how healing can be enacted & helped to flourish. By not simply helping clients one by one in a vacuum but by connecting clients to a movement. Lawyers can participate in the formation of NEW communities & NEW futures. In law school this looks like listening & learning from our classmates & professors. Being willing to be wrong & being loving towards each other.
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On Dec. 1, 2023, Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH) hosted a Zoom panel discussion on “Community Inside and Outside of the Classroom” featuring student perspectives on learning with TLH Faculty Fellows Sarah Pollack (College of Staten Island); Sharon Jordan (Lehman College); Joseph Cáceres (Graduate Center); and Lynn Lu (CUNY School of Law). Each faculty fellow shared methods they used during the semester to empower students to share ideas, work together, and facilitate conversation and mutual learning. Students from each course shared their perspectives on the meaning and value of community in relation to their classrooms. Continue reading →
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!
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