Current Courses

Engaged Research (Spring 2017)
Instructor: Gianpaolo Baiocchi

This course introduces students to community-based research, its fundamental tools, and the potentials and limitations of particular methodologies.This kind of research may draw on philosophy of science, feminist scholarship, and critical social sciences, but it is ultimately research based in communities and driven by the needs of those communities. As such, it may not always meet reigning scientific or scholarly standards, and is prone to criticisms of bias or particularism. At the same time, it has the potential be more salient and meaningful to community members and to advocates of social change. In this class, we will explore these tensions around community-based research, addressing questions like: Do its potentials outweigh its limits? And what are the best ways to determine community need and to conduct this kind of research as a response to that need? Much of the course time, however, will be dedicated to carrying out projects based with three community-based groups in the New York City area. By the middle of the semester, the course will have moved entirely out of the classroom and participants should be willing to travel to different locations in the city.

(Dis)Placed Urban Histories (Spring 2017)
Instructor: Rebecca Amato

Neighborhood change comes in many varieties. Mid-twentieth century urban renewal in U.S. cities brought bulldozers and tower-in-the-park housing developments to dozens of poor neighborhoods considered ripe for revision. Early-twenty-first century gentrification, meanwhile, has brought high-end commerce and affluence to areas once occupied by low-income and working class communities. In the Melrose section of the South Bronx, a series of changes have influenced the streetscapes and lives of residents. Rampant arson in the 1970s and 1980s destroyed acres of the neighborhood, for example, while migrants from Puerto Rico and immigrants from the Dominican Republic, West Africa, and Bangladesh, among others, settled in the remaining homes of Melrose to build new lives in a new city. Most recently, federal dollars have been earmarked for Melrose’s reconstruction and redevelopment. This course, offered in partnership with the Bronx-based community empowerment organization WHEDCo, invites students to become activist historians whose objective is to learn what histories are at risk of being silenced or displaced as the South Bronx changes. Students will conduct archival and secondary research; produce collaborative oral histories with neighborhood residents and business owners; and meet with activists who are working to protect the interests of the current community of Melrose. The course will culminate in an on-line archive and a physical, history-based exhibit to be co-produced with neighborhood residents and displayed in a publicly accessible, outdoor park. Readings may include Jonathan Mahler’s Ladies and Gentlemen the Bronx is Burning and Jill Jonnes’s South Bronx Rising.