Faculty at the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY-BMCC) are engaged in a multi-year NEH-funded project, Voices and Experiences of Poverty—A New Interdisciplinary Humanities Curriculum, that will bring poverty-focused humanities texts into classrooms across the curriculum. In the Spring of 2021, the project team invited CUNY community college faculty from all disciplines to apply for the Summer 2021 Poverty & Humanities Institute for Faculty. We were heartened by the interest in the Institute and by the number of applications we received. Twenty Faculty Fellows were selected to participate. This institute is the first major phase of our multi-year project. To learn more about the institute, read on!
Voices and Experiences of Poverty—A New Interdisciplinary Humanities Curriculum is a project organized by Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) faculty that aims to bring humanities materials about poverty into classrooms across the curriculum. This multi-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), will seed and create a new interdisciplinary curriculum with a poverty focus, in which the critical study of humanistic texts and documents about poverty inspire our students to explore their own sense of purpose, reflect on their learning, and draw parallels with their life experiences.
Many CUNY (City University of New York) students face food insecurity, housing insecurity, and homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only exacerbated these vulnerabilities, but has also given additional motivation to find creative intellectual paths forward. CUNY colleges have taken measures to address poverty at a practical level, but to empower our students and ourselves we know we need much more. It is urgent that we think together and across disciplines about our diverse historical, local, global, and personal experiences of poverty. We need tools for imagining how these experiences and histories relate to all the subjects we teach and study, from mathematics to economics, from business management to sociology, from history to philosophy, from nutrition to psychology, and from women’s studies to art history.
This is why our first major step in the Voices and Experiences of Poverty project is a five-week summer institute for CUNY community college faculty. (Read more about the Institute here.) Starting in the fall of 2021 faculty involved in the institute will try out their own poverty & humanities materials and strategies in their classrooms at BMCC, BCC (Bronx Community College), Guttman Community College, Hostos Community College, LaGuardia Community College, and QCC (Queensborough Community College). Faculty at the Institute, and beyond, will be learning together what we can do to make poverty an active-learning and action-inspiring topic for our college communities. With that goal in mind, the next steps of the project involve sharing our experiences through multiple “Voicing Poverty” events that will be hosted by BMCC. These events will begin in the fall of 2021 with pedagogy brown bags, and gain momentum in subsequent semesters with student-focused events, teaching tours, a digital humanities project, and a symposium. Check back here for detailed information about these events! Eventually, this website itself will act not only as a site for sharing news and events, but also as a “Poverty, Humanities, and Teaching” digital repository – a place where you can go for teaching and learning ideas, and texts and documents related to humanistic approaches to poverty.
Why “Poverty & Humanities”?
Many non-humanities courses include content related to basic needs and resources (e.g., housing, nutrition, budgeting, statistics, caregiving)—content which can be enhanced through the inclusion of carefully chosen humanities texts. Many humanities courses, on the other hand, do not offer readings that focus on experiences of poverty. The Institute intends to be a place where a philosophy professor can create a poverty-focused unit for their lesson on epistemology, and a nursing professor can find a short story to bring home the experience of being a patient without health insurance. The purpose of the Institute is to help us develop a framework for selecting particularly high-impact texts that can be introduced into both non-humanities and humanities courses and thereby transform the learning in our community college classrooms.
Our project seeks to answer two equally important questions about poverty and the humanities. First, we believe that engaging with the complex ideas about poverty as a human experience is crucial for our students, around half of whom experience food and housing insecurity. Our students’ experiences and voices, brought to bear on the topic of poverty, can generate new knowledge about our society. In humanities courses such as philosophy, literature, and art history, it is often the case that poverty is not directly addressed as part of the human experience. What happens if we change this and include a poverty-focused unit in Philosophy 100, or English 101?
Second, we know that humanities texts and objects can be powerful motivators for learning about any subject. Many of us do not teach within the humanities, and many of our students take only a handful of humanities courses, and yet we’ve all seen the way a short story, a song, or an engaging historical document can crystalize ideas, motivate learning, and give new dimensions to the skills and theories we teach—whether in health science, business, psychology, or economics. What happens if we include a poverty-focused poem, film, or historical essay when we are teaching on topics of basic needs, scarcity, and equity?
Whether through classroom activities or participation in school-wide events, when students see the epistemic value of their own experiences, they can begin to generate their own educational goals and research questions, and become better prepared for life in the 21st century.
The humanities offer a wide range of approaches to poverty and inequity. Critically-engaged personal writing, film, or music about homelessness, hunger, and the longing for security can become powerful anchors that bring theory to life. Just as importantly, though, writings by historians and philosophers can help identify the questionable assumptions that often float around the edges of poverty-talk. Poverty can be a sensitive topic, given the unjustified shame that surrounds it. Works must be carefully chosen and lessons carefully crafted so that they awaken curiosity rather than reinforce myth.
How is the Institute structured?
Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Institute is fully online. Poverty & Humanities Faculty fellows will meet twice weekly (on Tuesdays and Fridays) via zoom for half-days over five weeks, starting July 6, 2021. Our Tuesday meetings will be devoted to discussing materials and working on curricular development, while our Friday meetings will feature talks and round-table discussions with guest scholars and community leaders who will provide multiple critical perspectives for grappling with and better understanding poverty.
For an (always-in-progress) list of readings and materials click here, and for the schedule of activities, click here.
Who is it for?
The Poverty and Humanities Institute was designed for BMCC and CUNY community college faculty from all disciplines (e.g., social sciences, science, mathematics, business, and humanities). It is meant to root faculty in a humanistic grasp of poverty and to create teaching tools for eliciting reflections on poverty from our students.
Who are the participants?
We are a five-person project team, joined by 20 Faculty Fellows from BMCC and other CUNY Community Colleges, and over a dozen guest speakers. Learn about us here!
What comes next?
The institute is the springboard for an array of activities and interventions that will be available for study and reflection on this website in due course. In the semesters after the institute, the project team and Faculty Fellows will be trying out curricular changes that reflect the goals of the institute. With 25 faculty across CUNY’s community colleges—and given the numbers of classes most of us regularly teach (around 8 per year)—we expect to be engaging in complex and empowering interdisciplinary conversations about poverty in literally hundreds of classrooms, directly engaging as many as 10,000 students in the first two years of this project.
Twenty Faculty Fellows from across CUNY’s community colleges were selected to participate in the P & H institute. P & H Faculty Fellows come from diverse disciplines and departments, such as Business, Communications, Economics, English, Ethnic Studies, Health, Journalism, Mathematics, Psychology, and Sociology. These faculty teach, research, and create in multi-, inter-, and trans-disciplinary ways, working in moving image, photography, literary criticism, short story, history, cancer research, queer theory, business ethics, community health, and more. Get to know a little more about the Poverty & Humanities Institute Fellows here!
Dr. Asrat Amnie received a Doctor of Education in Health Education (EdD, 2016) from Teachers College, Columbia University in the City of New York. He also graduated with a Master’s in Global Health (MPH, 2013) with Infectious Disease Concentration from Emory University. He is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®), a nationally recognized designation for an advanced-level professional competence and experience in the field of health education and health promotion. Dr. Amnie is an International Medical Graduate with more than 20 years of experience in clinical and public health practice. He earned a Doctor of Medicine (MD, 1992) from Jimma University and graduated with a specialty in General Surgery (2002) from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia—his country of origin. His recent published work and research interests focus on prevention of high-risk health behavior at individual, family, and community levels.
Dr. Nicolle Fernandes is an Associate Professor and Director of the Nutrition and Culinary Management Program within the Health Sciences Department at LaGuardia Community College. Her research interests include impact of nutrition in cancer, obesity, falls and fracture in the geriatric population, herbs and spices, culinary nutrition, hunger, food insecurity and sustainability in the food arena. She received her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and worked on dδ-Tocotrienol-mediated cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human melanoma and prostate cancer cell lines. She completed her postdoc at Nestlé Nutrition R&D Centers in Hopkins, Minnesota and worked in the Aging Care platform. Dr. Fernandes is also a Registered Dietitian through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Unites States and in India through the Indian Dietetic Association. She was a practicing Dietitian in India and began teaching there in 2003 at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in Dadar, Mumbai.
Dr. Monica Foust is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at BMCC/CUNY. She has a PhD in Developmental Psychology from University of Michigan and an MA in Educational Psychology from NYU. Professor Foust’s research explores the role of messages individuals receive about (sex)uality in shaping individuals’ sexual attitudes and behaviors. She has examined the link between the messages individuals receive about homosexuality and individuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gays. She is currently exploring issues related to women’s sexuality development. In 2021 her co-written article “Parent and Peer Messages about Homosexuality: Considering the Role of Gender” was published in Sexuality and Culture.
Dr. Millicent Freeman is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at BMCC/CUNY. In 2007 she received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Capella University. She has worked for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for around 25 years. She is Director of Outreach and Training at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Her research interests include history of trauma-informed care and behavioral health, with emphasis on cisgender men and women of color and LGBTQ teens through young adults.
Shawn Grant is an Assistant Professor in the Business Management Department at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (“BMCC”) CUNY. Following her graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law, she practiced corporate and securities law for a number of years. She has over 14 years of teaching experience during which time she has taught business law, political science, and women and gender studies to undergraduate and graduate students, as an adjunct professor at various private and CUNY colleges. Since 2018, she has taught business law on a full-time basis at BMCC. Her research interests include discrimination based on disabilities, gender and race in higher education and employment.
Sarah Hanssen is an Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at BCC/CUNY. Sarah Hanssen’s films have been shown at festivals, museums and screenings around the world. Most recently, her short documentary, Working Stiff, about an aspiring cartoon artist, played at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival, The Independent Film Festival of Boston, DOCNYC, and GlobeDocs Festival. Her writing has been published in The Projector: A Journal on Film, Media, and Culture, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, and The Curator. Professor Hanssen is the Faculty Advisor to the recently created Bronx Community College Film Society. Her research and teaching interests are Digital Film and Video Production, Digital Film and Video Editing, World Cinema. Professor Hanssen holds a M.F.A. in Film from Massachusetts College of Art.
Dr. Paoyi Huang is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at BMCC/CUNY. In 2016 Dr. Huang received her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center for the dissertation, “’Love’ Across the Strait: Cross-Border Marriage Between Chinese Women and Taiwanese Men.”
Neil Hwang is an Assistant Professor in the Business and Information Systems Department at BCC/CUNY. He was born and raised in South Korea, and migrated to the United States in high school. He spent a few years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Iraq in early 2000s, and went back to school to study business and math. After school, Neil went to Wall Street to work in the corporate sector for about 10 years in investment banking and management consulting. During this period, he started teaching part-time at local colleges on weekends. What started out as merely something to do to on Saturdays just to get his mind off from work became something he started to excitedly look forward to throughout the week. This led to a full-time offer to teach accounting at Bronx Community College, where he is constantly amazed at the humility, genuineness, and kindness of the students he has the pleasure to interact with.
Dr. Adele Kudish is an Associate Professor of English at BMCC/CUNY, where she has taught since 2012. Professor Kudish holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research interests include the European proto-psychological novel (English, French, Spanish, and Italian), particularly psychological love stories, as well as fashion theory and early 20th century novels by women. Her 2020 book, The European Roman d’analyse: Unconsummated Love Stories from Boccaccio to Stendhal defines and delineates for the first time a sub-genre that she calls “analytical fiction.” Her book examines a selection of eight European texts written between 1343 and 1827 that illustrate a deeply pessimistic philosophy that questions the validity of every kind of communicative sign.
Dr. Laurie Lomask is an Assistant Professor of Modern Languages at BMCC/CUNY, where she teaches Spanish language and literature. She received her PhD in Spanish and Portuguese from Yale in 2014, with the dissertation “Modernity in Stride, Walking in Modern Spanish Literature.” Dr. Lomask’s work focuses on connecting literature and movement arts. Her research interests include poetry, walking, theater, and dance in Spain and Latin America, as well as open educational resources, active and movement-based learning, learning communities. All of her classes are textbook-optional and involve student-directed content. She started at CUNY in 2015 at Bronx Community College and came to BMCC two years later.
Harini Mittal is an Assistant Professor of Business and Information Systems at BCC/CUNY. An educator with nearly two decades of experience, Mittal has expertise in curriculum development and college instruction, and is passionate about student advocacy. She has authored/co-authored books, several research articles and case studies, including a 2020 article, “Flipped Classroom Videos in Today’s Online Education Times.” Professor Mittal has found several key areas to help students, offering labs on Technology Management, Business Strategy, Technology Strategy, Entrepreneurial Finance, Managing and Growing a New Business, Introduction to Business, Entrepreneurship, Financial Management, Carbon Finance, and more.
Dr. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at BMCC/CUNY. Newfield’s book, Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020), systemically explores the lives of others raised in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities who decided as young adults to leave that way of life. Newfield is also a podcast host with the New Books Network, interviewing scholars of Jewish and religious studies. He received his PhD in Sociology from New York University, with a focus on cultural sociology and the study of identity, narrative, and resocialization. Prior to arriving at BMCC, he taught sociology courses for two years in six New Jersey state prisons through Rutgers University Newark’s New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons (NJSTEP) program.
Dr. Elisabeth Porter is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Hostos Community College. She received her Ph.D. from Fordham University in 2017 with the dissertation, “The Urban Plunge: Eighteenth-Century Novel Heroines in London.” Her field of study is British literature from 1660-1820. Specific research interests include the history of the novel, urban studies, and theories of gender and social class.
Dr. Angela Ridinger-Dotterman received a Ph.D. in English from CUNY’s Graduate Center and is an Assistant Professor at QCC/CUNY. Her teaching and research interests include 19th -century American women’s literature; voice studies; disability in literature; disability and composition pedagogy; digital composition projects.
Bijoyeta Sahoriya Das is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY. Prior to joining LaGuardia, Bijoyeta worked as an independent journalist, photographer and media trainer. She reported from South and Southeast Asia, Turkey and the US, writing for Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, Radio France among others. She trained journalists and developed local media institutions in South Sudan for two years. She writes long-form narratives and library features and wrote a creative non-fiction biography of Haiti’s first woman prime minister.
Dr. Naveen Seth is a Professor of Economics and Business at CUNY Guttman. Dr. Seth holds a Ph.D. in Economics and International Business from the Stern School of Business at New York University. As Guttman Founding Faculty, he has worked on curriculum development for both the First Year Experience and the Business Administration Program. Dr. Seth teaches first-year Quantitative Reasoning and Statistics, as well as Economics and Business courses in the Program. His research interests lie in curriculum and pedagogy that promotes student success.
Dr. Marian Stewart Titus teaches English at BMCC/CUNY College, and has also taught at BCC and at Lehman College. She received a Ph.D. from Rutgers University (Rutgers School of Communication & Information). Her scholarly work focuses on communication, immigration, and technology and includes articles on "Remote Parenting across National Borders."
Amy E. Traver is a professor of sociology at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York. Her research interests include student success in community colleges, as well as intersections of agriculture, adoption, race/ethnicity, religion, and gender in American family life. Traver has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and coedited three scholarly volumes on teaching/learning in the community college. Her research was recently recognized by a 2019–2020 Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship.
Brett Whysel is grateful and proud to be teaching finance and decision-making as a full-time lecturer in the Business Management Department of BMCC. He hopes that teaching at BMCC will help, in a small way, to address economic inequality and injustice. Prior to this appointment, he taught as an adjunct for four years at the City College of New York’s MPA program. He taught Economics for Public Policy and a service design Capstone. In 2016, Mr. Whysel founded Decision Fish LLC to create the world’s best financial wellness programs for the majority of Americans who struggle financially. Mr. Whysel has 27 years experience as an investment banker to US municipalities and large nonprofits (public finance) at Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Bank of Montreal. He developed new products and client-facing analytics as well as handled recruiting, training and management of analysts and associates.
Dr. Lauren Wolf is a Professor of Mathematics at Hostos Community College, CUNY who got her PhD at the University of Albany. She has over 17 years of teaching and tutoring experience in all levels of math in all settings from private colleges, community colleges, including 12 years at the University of Albany and seven years teaching in prison. She values compassionate teaching that will help students not only do well in mathematics, and build self-esteem, but fall in love with the subject of math. She is a recipient of the SUNY excellence in teaching award.
The Institute will be visited and led by over a dozen accomplished and caring guest speakers over the five week period of meetings. These scholars, writers, and change-makers will share their ideas, concerns, experiences, and expertise with the Faculty Fellows and Project Team, helping institute participants to locate new possibilities within the criss-crossing intersections of poverty and humanities. Learn more about the P & H guest speakers here.
jean amaral is an Associate Professor and Open Knowledge Librarian at BMCC/CUNY. Her co-authored publications include “Mapping Student Days: Collaborative Ethnography and the Student Experience” and “A Decade of Research at Urban Commuter Colleges. One of her areas of expertise is in OER and Professor amaral leads frequent raining workshops to instruct faculty on how to use open educational resources. In 2020 amaral won the Elton B. Stephens Company (EBSCO) Community College Learning Resources Leadership Award, recognizing amaral’s leadership in developing BMCC’s Open Educational Resources (OER)/Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) and Open Pedagogy Programs — which have saved an estimated 50,000 students over $6 million in four years.
Jen Hoyer volunteers her time to organize programming at Interference Archive in Gowanus. She is an Educator with the Brooklyn Connections program at Brooklyn Public Library. She earned her MLIS at McGill University and joined the team after running a music outreach program in South Africa, working as a school librarian in Montreal, and organizing the archives of the oldest public lending library in Canada.
Dr. Ira Katznelson is Columbia University’s Interim Provost, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects. His 2013 Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time was awarded the Bancroft Prize in History and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in Political Science. Other books include Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy After Reconstruction (2018; co-authored with David Bateman and John Lapinski), and Liberal Beginnings: A Republic for the Moderns (2008; co-authored with Andreas Kalyvas). Professor Katznelson, a fellow of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, is a former president both of the American Political Science Association and the Social Science Research Council. He earned his BA at Columbia College and his PhD in History at the University of Cambridge, where he served in 2017-2018 as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions. Prior to his arrival at Columbia in 1994, where he also had been an assistant and associate professor, he had taught at the University of Chicago, where he served as Chair of the Department of Political Science, and the New School for Social Research, where he was Dean of the Graduate Faculty.
Dr. Morton works in philosophy of action, moral philosophy, philosophy of education, and political philosophy. Her book, Moving Up Without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility (Princeton University Press), won the 2020 Frederic W. Ness Book Award from the Association of American Colleges & Universities. You can learn more about her research here and here. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Morton will hold the position of Presidential Associate Professor. She starts there in Fall of 2021.
Bill Prinzivalli is an entrepreneur and business consultant with a Master of Science Degree and a Master of Business Administration Degree, who integrates traditional business strategies with mindful, awareness, and experiential practices to promote organizational and team building effectiveness. His extensive experience in business spans over 40 years. He has worked in both large and small organizations and, as an entrepreneur, has created four startup companies. His business consulting has specialized in corporate and business strategies, sales and marketing consulting, business partnerships, and executive coaching. In 2012, he began the study of Improvisational Acting. He has studied in New York at the Open Door Acting Company, the Magnet, and The PIT. He has performed on multiple NY stages including the Jan Hus Theater, The Producer’s Club and The PIT’s Stryker, Loft and Underground, and currently on Instagram’s Socially Distant Improv network. Bill’s active engagement in both business and improvisational acting has led him to develop a training program focused on the applications of improvisational practices in the corporate world. He notes that applied improv is not a comedy or standup performance but instead an application of improvisational principles to enhance a company’s internal and external communication, increasing its overall effectiveness and performance. Bill is passionate about integrating his experiences in both areas to help organizations and teams improve their communications and performance, and ultimately realize their stated missions. Currently Bill is co-authoring a book entitled, “Improvisational Leadership”.
Deepa has been a member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab since 2014 and is also a trained actor. She co-founded and ran Rising Circle Theater Collective (www.risingcircle.org) for 12 years (2000-2012), overseeing the development of over 20 plays by writers of color. When she’s not writing, she is a voice and speech coach for leaders working for educational equity in our country. She also trained as an actor and has appeared in TV and film. Education: MFA, Brooklyn College (Playwriting.) MPH, Columbia University (Health Promotion Disease Prevention. BA, Northwestern University (History, African Studies). Deepa currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son and works as a communications coach for executive leaders in education. Playwriting credits include: The In Between w/NAATCO (dir. Aya Ogawa), slated for production in June 2022 in NYC. Mothering: A collection of short form works for performance. Elyria: in partnership with Ma-Yi Theatre Company: 2018 Recipient of NEA ArtWorks Grant & 2018 Jerome Foundation Grant for research, 2018 SPACE on Ryder Farm two-week residency. Crushed Earth: 2017 Recipient of New Play Frontiers Residency and Commission at People’s Light Theatre – co-written w/Sanjit De Silva. M xx - perience (in development) The Wake: 2017 Ma-Yi Writers Lab/Andrew W. Mellon Creative Fellowship Residency at the University of Washington, Ma-Yi Writers Lab Fest 2015. A Valentine: 2017 Kilroys Honorable Mention, Ma-Yi Writers Lab Fest 2017. Have Sari. Will Travel! : Rising Circle’s June 2017 Refinery Workshop, 2016 Lilly Awards Foundation Family Residency at SPACE on Ryder Farm. Flight: Developed in 2011with Rising Circle Theater Collective’s 2011 InkTANK PlayLab. Short plays: LotusMart, Ohio (Desipina Productions 2003), Exiled (2001). Writing w/Sanjit De Silva and Rising Circle: Grace (2010), The American Family Project (2007), Pulling the Lever (2004, Published in Plays and Playwrights 2006, 2004 NYIT Award for Best Ensemble).
Dr. Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas is Frederick Clifford Ford Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, Anthropology and American Studies at Yale University. She received her BA in Economics and Latin American Studies from Yale College, and her MA/PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. Her most recent book, Parenting Empires: Whiteness, Class, and the Moral Economy of Privilege in Latin America (Duke University Press, 2020), examines the parenting practices of Brazilian and Puerto Rican upper-classes, as these alter urban landscapes; provide moral justifications for segregation, surveillance, and foreign interventions; and recast idioms of crisis, corruption, and austerity according to the dictums of US empire. Some of her earlier works include National Performances: Class, Race, and Space in Puerto Rican Chicago (The University of Chicago Press, 2003; ASA Latino Studies Book Award, 2006) and Street Therapists: Affect, Race, and Neoliberal Personhood in Latino Newark (The University of Chicago Press, 2012; Frank Bonilla Book Award 2010-12). Ramos-Zayas is also co-author of Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship (Routledge, 2003); co-editor of Critical Dialogues in Latinx Studies: A Handbook (NYU Press, in press); and co-editor of Whiteness in Latin America and the Caribbean (LACES, Latin American Studies Association, forthcoming). Ramos-Zayas’ ethnographic work aims to understand and disentangle systems of power and privilege at a variety of scales, ranging from U.S. imperial and white supremacist politics to how individuals and communities make sense of everyday forms of power and subordination. Issues of social justice and the intersection of intimate worlds, anthropology of affect, and political economy are fundamental concerns in her research. Her current research focuses on Latinx and Latin American “life coaches,” therapeutic social justice initiatives, and the cultural sociology of projects of the self.
Dr. Erica Richardson is an Assistant Professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY. She received her dual B.A. in English and Classical Civilization from Wellesley College and her PhD from Columbia University. Her scholarship and teaching interests include the aesthetics and intellectual history of black social life as depicted in late 19th and 20th century African American literary production; the corpus and thought of W.E.B. DuBois; print culture of the Harlem Renaissance; African American drama; and theories of gender and sexuality in African American literature. Her current research project explores how black authors incorporate, critique, and subvert the discourses of the so-called Negro problem through a range of literary productions following the demise of Reconstruction through the Harlem Renaissance. She has presented segments of her work at the American Studies Association (ASA), the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and the American Literature Association (ALA). At Baruch, she teaches courses in the Great Works program and on Harlem Renaissance and Black Women’s Writing.
Rob Robinson is a member of the Leadership Committee of the Take Back the Land movement and a staff volunteer at the Partners for Dignity and Rights (formerly National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). After losing his job in 2001, he spent two years homeless on the streets of Miami and ten months in a New York City shelter. He eventually overcame homelessness and has been in the housing movement based in New York City since 2007. In the fall of 2009, Rob was chosen to be New York City chairperson for the first official mission of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. He was a member of an advanced teamcoordinated by the U.S. Human Rights Network in early 2010, traveling to Geneva, Switzerland several times to prepare for the United States’ initial appearance in the Universal Periodic Review. Rob Robinson has worked with homeless populations in Budapest, Hungary and Berlin, Germany and is connected with housing movements in South Africa and Brazil. He works with the European Squatters Collective, International Alliance of Inhabitants; Landless People’s Movement (MST) and the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) and is a member of the Steering Committee of the USA Canada Alliance of Inhabitants. In December 2008, he completed a course with People’s Production House and the Community News Production Institute and has been a member of a social justice media collective which produces and airs a monthly radio show over WBAI in New York City called Global Movements Urban Struggles.
Sr. Helen Saldanha is member of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit and an executive co-director of VIVAT International, a global human rights advocacy organization that works at the United Nations. VIVAT International is a Non-Governmental Organization which has a membership of more than 25,000 Sisters, Brothers and Priests from 12 Catholic Religious Congregations, working in 120 countries for promotion of human rights through advocacy in international and local levels. VIVAT International has the Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and Associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI).
Dr. Linda M. Sama is Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Joseph F. Adams Professor of Management in the Peter J. Tobin College of Business (TCB), St. John’s University. In 2009, she founded the GLOBE (Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs) microloan academic program at TCB, a student-managed micro-credit fund and experiential learning initiative. The program has introduced students to microfinance as practiced in some of the world’s most impoverished communities and earned her the Academy of Management’s Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award in 2012, and the AACSB 2017 Entrepreneurship Spotlight Challenge award. She also was instrumental in St. John’s decision to become a signatory of the U.N. PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) initiative in 2011 and serves as the university’s PRME liaison. As an outgrowth of that initiative, she launched the TCB Center for Global Business Stewardship, and acts as its Executive Director. Dr. Sama earned her Ph.D. from Baruch-CUNY. Her doctoral dissertation addressing the twin impact of governance mechanisms and strategic slack on corporate social response strategies earned her the 1999 Lasdon Dissertation Award. Her research has resulted in over 90 publications that address issues of corporate social responsibility, business and the natural environment, and global business ethics dilemmas in the new economy. Most recently, her research has focused on the connections between micro-lending and women empowerment, sustainability, religiosity, food security, and post-conflict resolutions in the developing world’s Base of Pyramid (BoP) markets.
Dr. Gunja SenGupta is a professor and former chair of the History Department at Brooklyn College. She is a past director of the Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College. Her expertise lies in 19th-century United States and slavery/abolition in the Indian Ocean; sectional conflict; and African-American and women's history. She is the author of, among other works, two books, For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas (University of Georgia Press, 1996) and From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840–1918 (NYU Press, 2009).
Dr. Arlene Torres is an Associate Professor in the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College. She is a cultural anthropologist with expertise in Caribbean, Latina/Latino, and Latin American Studies. As a public intellectual, Dr. Torres has served as a member of the Advisory Board and consultant to a national project on RACE supported by the American Anthropological Association, National Science Foundation and Ford Foundation. She is Past-President of the Puerto Rican Studies Association and Past-President of the Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists, a division of the American Anthropological Association.
Dr. Torres’ publications include two edited volumes with Norman E. Whitten, Jr. & Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Collecting Puerto Ricans” In Kevin Yelvington (ed.) Afro-Atlantic Dialogues: Anthropology in the Diaspora. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, reflect Torres’ intellectual concerns. Dr. Torres focuses on the racialization of ethnic groups in varied cultural and institutional settings works on several university, college-wide, and community organizations to support the educational advancement of underrepresented communities in higher education.
As an administrative and faculty mentor, she co-directed the CUNY-Harvard Leadership Development Program, the Mellon Faculty Diversity Career Enhancement Grant and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Hunter College. She served as University Dean for Recruitment and Diversity and the Director of the Chancellor’s Latino Faculty Initiative in Academic Affairs in the Central Administration at CUNY.
Dr. Randall Westbrook is a faculty member at the School of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He was also guest editor and contributor to The Journal of Negro Education and authored “Elusive Quest: Reflecting on Bell and Brown” for the Harvard Law School Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice. He received his EdD from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education. Professor Westbrook specializes in the thought of W.E.B. DuBois and edited the volume, Education and Empowerment: The Essential Writings of W.E.B. DuBois (2013). In a February 2021 interview with of Dr. Westbrook, published in Mom&I Today, he reflects on teaching during Black History Month, “I talk about the Silent Parade of 1917 that Dubois led where there were 30,000 Black men, women, and children walking down the street, silent. They only carried signs, and how that scared people. 100 years later, we have people walking down the middle of the street relatively silent, holding signs, and it’s still scaring people.”
Karl O’Brian Williams is currently Deputy Chair and Theatre Coordinator in the Speech, Communication and Theatre Arts Department at The Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY), and an Adjunct at NYU Steinhardt in the Program in Educational Theatre.
He is a Jamaican-born actor, playwright, producer, and educator. His acting career has taken him from stages in the Caribbean to those in New York, Toronto, and the United Kingdom. In 2019 he was co-writer on the short film Winston, which received the following film festival selections: the Hip Hop Film Festival, BronzeLens, Circle City Film Festival, Queen City Film Festival and the African American Film Festival. The screenplay was adapted from Williams’s monologue “The Kept Man.” His play The Black That I Am has been staged in Glasgow and Galloway for the National Theatre of Scotland, and at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. Not About Eve had a successful run Off-Off-Broadway in New York, Queens, Brooklyn, Rochester, Hartford, CT, and North Carolina at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem. In 2013 the play received 3 AUDELCO nominations for Excellence in Black Theatre including Outstanding Ensemble Cast, Best Dramatic Production, and Best Playwright. The Boys on the Hill was a selection in The Culture Project’s 2015 Summer Play Reading series at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, and for Long Island University’s Kumble Theatre 2016 Pride Month Celebrations. The play is now being developed along with another one-act called Gully Queen as part of a trilogy on LGBTQ+ lives in J Jamaica. Random was a selection in NYU’s ten-minute play festival, and was adapted into a short film by students at the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2009. He was playwright in residence with Theatre Askew’s Youth Performance Experience. Williams’s passion for theatre and education has propelled his work with students of all ages and abilities. He narrated the audiobook These Ghosts Are Family written by Maisy Card and published by Simon & Schuster (Paste magazine’s Top 10 Audio Books for March 2020).
As Artistic Director for Braata Productions, he curates the organization’s bi-annual Caribbean Play Reading Series, creates educational theatre curriculum for after school and senior center programs, and created Braata’s annual events, Bankra Caribbean Folk Festival and Old Time Grand Market. He has shared the stage with Harry Belafonte and the late historian and activist Howard Zinn, and pursues artistic projects that interrogate socio-political issues, especially those intersecting with Caribbean culture, queerness, and immigration.
Katharine Wolfe is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at St. Lawrence University. She works principally in ethics, feminist theory, and continental philosophy. She has published in journals such as Environmental Ethics, Sartre Studies International, Feminist Philosophical Quarterly, The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Rethinking Marxism, and more. Her work in public philosophy can be found at Black Issues in Philosophy, Impact Ethics and NorthJersey.com.
Emanuel Xavier is the author of the poetry collections Selected Poems of Emanuel Xavier, Radiance, Nefarious, If Jesus Were Gay, Americano, Pier Queen, and the novel Christ Like. He is also editor of Me No Habla With Acento: Contemporary Latino Poetry, Bullets & Butterflies: queer spoken word poetry, and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry. An Equality Forum LGBTQ History Month Icon, Emanuel Xavier is a poet and author of queer youth and is a longtime LGBTQ rights activist. Xavier is the recipient of a New York City Council Citation Award, an International Latino Book Award, Lambda Literary Award nominations, and American Library Association Over the Rainbow Books selections for his collections. He is the recipient of a Gay City Impact Award and the Marsha A. Gomez Cultural Heritage Award.
As a survivor of child abuse, former homeless gay teen, and member of the House ball scene, he has staged many benefits for queer youth and is a longtime LGBTQ rights activist. Xavier is the recipient of a New York City Council Citation Award, an International Latino Book Award, Lambda Literary Award nominations, and American Library Association Over the Rainbow Books selections for his collections. He is the recipient of a Gay City Impact Award and the Marsha A. Gomez Cultural Heritage Award.
The Project Team are professors in Business, Economics, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Philosophy and come from BMCC’s Business and Social Sciences departments. Together they have been discussing, planning, and dreaming of this institute and the larger “Voices and Experiences of Poverty” project since at least 2017. Learn a little bit more about the project team and consultants here.
Dr. Sangeeta Bishop is the Chairperson of the Department of Social Sciences, Human Services & Criminal Justice at BMCC/CUNY. She is an Associate Professor of Economics. Her areas of expertise are econometrics and applied microeconomics. She has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Dr. Bishop’s dissertation was awarded the Young Economist Essay Award by European Association for Research in Industrial Economics. She has over 20 years of teaching experience and involvement with student advisement and curriculum review. She is interested in collaborative learning and has managed a grant exploring the role of arts and humanities on BMCC students. She is one of the steering committee members for BMCC’s Strategic Plan, member of BMCC’s Middle States Steering Committee and co-chair of Standard II: Ethics and Integrity for Middle States Standards Working Groups. She has also served as the chair of BMCC’s Academic Senate.
Dr. Christine Farias is an Associate Professor of Economics in the Department of Social Sciences, Human Services and Criminal Justice at BMCC/CUNY. Dr. Farias is an Environmental Economist and her main areas of research interest include poverty alleviation, sustainability, education, labor and ecological economics. Dr. Farias received her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. Her most recent publications are in the International Journal of Social Economics on Teaching Social Economics: Bringing the real world into the classroom and taking the classroom into the real world and in the journal, Sustainability on Sustainability Mindsets for Strategic Management: Lifting the Yoke of the Neo-Classical Economic Perspective. Dr. Farias has participated in a Faculty Development Seminar on Diversity, Religion and Migration that took her to Senegal, West Africa. Currently she is participating virtually in a year long Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine, sponsored by the Palestinian American Research Center.
Dr. Cara O’Connor is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at BMCC/CUNY, where she has taught since 2014. In 2017 she received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stony Brook University with the dissertation, “Empowerment Respect, Self-Respect, and Political Liberalism.” Working at the intersection of political theory, conceptual ethics, feminist care theory, and disability theory, O’Connor is interested in the different ways respect is demanded and leveraged in political and ethical discourse. O’Connor currently co-directs the Society for Women in Philosophy-New York City (SWIP-NYC).
Dr. Mahatapa Palit is the Chairperson of the Business Management Department at BMCC. She started her career in marketing research and went on to get a doctoral degree in business management focused on consumer behavior. Before joining BMCC in 2003, she spent four years with a technology startup as its marketing director.
Prof. Palit’s research interests cover the marketing of the arts; entrepreneurship; and the role of community colleges in building career pathways for students. She is currently the Co-PI of a grant from the Kaufmann foundation that enables students to see themselves as researchers and scholars as they explore the entrepreneurial eco-system of their communities. In 2016, she co-managed a grant involving BMCC and CUNY students that explored the role of performing arts and humanities on education, community, and economy using student voices and experiences to study the development of a creative campus.
Dr. Jamie Warren has a Ph.D. in American History from Indiana University, and she is a tenured Assistant Professor at BMCC/CUNY where she teaches American history, the history of women, and gender, and women’s studies. Her research focuses on slavery in antebellum South with a particular focus on death, the body, and the philosophy of history. She has given numerous lectures at Think Olio, on topics ranging from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Feminism, to a philosophy of history Seminar called “Where is Your ‘Right Now?’”
Wei-Hao Wang is a designer/developer from Taipei, Taiwan.
During the institute our studies will be focused on those texts suggested by the Guest Speakers (Faculty Fellows should log into the Portal to find those readings!). At the same time we are embarking on the joyful process of building a list and a database of literature and other materials that we can learn and teach from. What we present here is an evolving list of books, articles, stories, films, artworks, websites, podcasts and more. These works relate sometimes directly and famously, sometimes indirectly and subtly, to voices and experiences of poverty. Enjoy, and feel free to email us with your own suggestions!
Baldwin, James.  2006. If Beale Street Could Talk: A Novel. New York: Vintage.
Blank, Jessica, and Erik Jensen. 2004. "The Exonerated: A Play." Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
Brooks, Gwendolyn.  1993. Maud Martha. Chicago: Third World Press.
Coles, Robert, and Randy Testa. 2001. Growing Up Poor: A Literary Anthology. New York: W. W. Norton.
Connell, Jeanne M. 2006. "Can Those Who Live in Poverty Find Liberation Through the Humanities? Or Is This Just a New Romance with an Old Model?" Educational Studies 39 (1): 15-26.
Desmond, Matthew. 2017. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. New York: Broadway Books.
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt.  2003. "The Talented Tenth." In The Negro Problem, by Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Charles W. Chesnutt. Amherst: Humanity Books.
For the full text go here
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. 1903. The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago: A. C. McClurg and Co.
Read the Introduction here.
Finnegan, Cara. 2003. Picturing Poverty: Print culture and FSA photographs. Smithsonian Books.
Flanagan, Robert. 2009. Reply to an Eviction Notice: Selected Poems. Huron: Bottom Dog Press.
2007. Woodie Guthrie: Ain't Got No Home (American Masters). Directed by Peter Frumkin.
Listen to the song "Ain't Got No Home" here.
Gandhi, Mohandas K.  1993. Autobiography: The story of My Experiments With Truth. Boston: Beacon Press.
Gottesdiener, Laura. 2013. A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home. New York: Zuccotti Park Press.
Grimké, Angelina.  2015. Rachel: A Play in Three Acts. Boston: The Cornhill Company.
Holmes, Seth. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant farmworkers in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hughes, Langston. 1994. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel. New York: Vintage.
Read about the exhibition here
Interference Archive, New York. "Everybody's Got a Right to Live: The Poor People's Campaign 1968 & Now." Exhibition April 18-June 23, 2019.
Read it here.
Isasi-Diaz, Ada Maria. 1999. "Economics, Ethics and the Everyday: Reflections from Another Shore." In Welfare Policies - Feminist Critiques. Pilgrim Press.
Read it here.
Jaggar, Alison. 2013. "Does Poverty Wear a Woman's Face? Some Moral Dimensions of a Transnational Feminist Research Project." Hypatia 28 (2): 240-256.
Read it here.
Johnson, Charles Richard.  1986. "Exchange Value." In The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Tales and Conjurations, 25-40. New York: Atheneum.
Kittay, Eva Feder. 2008. "The Global Heart Transplant and Caring across National Boundaries." Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (1): 138-165.
Klein, Ezra. 2021. "What the Rich Don't Want to Admit about the Poor - The American economy runs on poverty." East Bay Times, June 15: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/06/15/klein-what-the-rich-dont-want-to-admit-about-the-poor/.
Lister, Ruth. 2021. Poverty (2nd Edition). Cambridge: Polity Press.
Read the preface to Fable of the Bees here
Mandeville, Bernard. [1714/1732] 1924. The Fable of the Bees. Indianapolis: Liberty Press.
Experience it here.
2013. Hollow: An Interactive Documentary. Elaine McMillion and Jeff Soyk. http://hollowdocumentary.com/.
Mehta, Nazneen. 2009/2010. "Opposing Images: "Third World Woman" and "Welfare Queen"." Women's Policy Journal of Harvard 7: 65-70.
Read an undergraduate student's review of this book here.
Milanovic, Branko. 2011. The Haves and Have Nots. New York: Basic Books.
Mitchell, Koritha. 2011. "Introduction: Whose Evidence? Which Account?" In Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930, 1-22. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Read Chapter One here.
Morton, Jennifer. 2019. Moving Up Without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility. Princeton University Press.
Read it here.
Morton, Jennifer. 2014. "Cultural Code Switching." The Journal of Political Philosophy 22 (3): 259-281.
Muhammad, Khalil Gibran. 2011/2019. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Read it here.
O'Brien, Matthew. 2013. "'The Great Gatsby Curve': Why It's So Hard for the Poor to Get Ahead." The Atlantic, June 18.
Read a review of the play here.
Parks, Suzan-Lori. 1999. In The Blood. Joseph Papp Public Theater, New York.
Piirto, Jane. 1998. "Themes in the Lives of Successful Contemporary U.S. Women Creative Writers." Roeper Review 21 (1): 60-70.
Read Chapter Eight here.
Pimpare, Stephen. 2011. A People's History of Poverty in America. New York: The New Press.
Read an interview with Piven here.
Piven, Fraces Fox, and Richard Cloward. 1978. Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail. Vintage.
Read it here.
Poor People's Campaign. 2020. "14 Policy Priorities to Heal the Nation: A Moral and Economic Agenda for the First 100 Days." Poor People's Campaign. December 1.
Read it here.
Ramos-Zayas, Ana Y. 2019. "'Sovereign Parenting' in Affluent Latin American Neighborhoods: Race and the Politics of Childcare in Ipanema (Brazil) and El Condado (Puerto Rico)." Journal of Latin American Studies 51: 639-663.
Read it here.
Ramos-Zayas, Ana Y. 2011. "Learning Affect, Embodying Race: Youth, Blackness, and Neoliberal Emotions in Latino Newark." Transforming Anthropology 19 (2): 86-104.
Listen to an interview with Mark Rank here
Rank, Mark Robert, Lawrence M. Eppard, and Heather E. Bullock. 2021. Poorly Understood: What America Gets Wrong About Poverty. Oxford University Press.
Regenspan, Barbara. 2014. Haunting and the Educational Imagination . Vol. Bold Visions in Educational Research 43. Boston: Sense Publishers.
Richardson, Willis.  2019. The Chip Woman's Fortune (one act play). Edited by Vanessa Cross.
Ridley, Roger. 2008. "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM." Playing for Change. Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke. https://playingforchange.com/.
Read the Introduction here.
Roberts, Dorothy. 1998. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. Vintage.
Read the poem here.
Rodriguez, Luis. 1998. "Night Shift at St. Regis (poem)." Trochemoche: Poems. Northwestern University Press.
Rose, Max, and Frank R. Baumgartner. 2013. "Framing the Poor: Media Coverage and U.S. Poverty Policy, 1960-2008." Policy Studies Journal 41 (1): 22-53.
Sama, Linda M., and R. Mitch Casselman. 2013. "Profiting from Poverty: Ethics of Microfinance in BOP." South Asian Journal of Global Business Research 2 (1): 82-103.
Read Chapter Eight here.
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1993. Death Without Weeping: The violence of everyday life in Brazil. University of California Press.
For more information about the film, see this
1966. Black Girl. Directed by Ousmane Sembene. Produced by A. Zwoboda.
SenGupta, Gunja. 2009. From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918. New York: NYU Press.
Read the Introduction here.
Shuman, Amy. 2010. Other People's Stories. University of Illinois Press.
Here's an excerpt.
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander.  2008. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. New American Library.
Stein, Samuel. 2019. Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State. Verso. Read Chapter Two, Planning Gentrification here.
Read it here.
Sudraka, and Arthur William (Trans.) Ryder. [circa 5th century C.E./Translation 1905] reprint 2020. Sudraka Classics: The Little Clay Cart.
Read it here.
Tai, Emily. 2017. "Homeless in College." University Faculty Senate Blog - CUNY, September 11.
Thompson, Matt. 2017. The 146 Point Flame (play). Dramatic Publishing.
Vaisey, Stephen. 2010. "What People Want: Rethinking Poverty, Culture, and Educational Attainment." The ANNALS of the American Acaddemy of Political and Social Science 629 (1).
For more information check out this link
2015. How Can a Warm Man Understand a Cold Man (https://www.tvo.org/video/how-can-a-warm-man-understand-a-cold-man). Directed by Vac Verikaitis. Produced by Why Poverty: Ontario Short Documentaries. TVO.
2010. American Refugees: Homelessness in Four Movements. Video. Directed by Jason Wasserman and Jeffrey Clair. Produced by B.
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. 2013. Education and Empowerment: The Essential Writings of W.E.B. DuBois. Edited by Randall Westbrook. Hansen Publishing Group.