Jamie Warren – work-in-progress

  • I have been stuck for months on the question of how to encourage my students to consider how poverty, or rather, the viewpoints of those who live as impoverished persons, can be used as categories of analysis[1]. Just as feminist theory and critical race theory have pushed academia to decenter the authority of the abstract rational subject–the all-knowing, disembodied, cis gendered, white man–in part by encouraging actual persons, who experience their subjecthood in diverse bodies that exist in a unique contexts to voice their knowledge–I hope to push the center closer to the margins by use of class. But (this is the “stuck” part of my thinking) how can I achieve this as a teacher without problematically celebrating poverty, or even more difficult, without falling into the icky trap of romanticizing the perspectives of the poor. While I remain committed to challenging the unearned authority of European rationalism, I am equally committed to avoiding the insulting, cringe worthy, notion that the oppressed are always right, or that the persons struggling at the lowest ranks of social hierarchies possess some super human (or perhaps super nonhuman? Super animal?) instincts about the truth of nature, of family, of justice, etc. While I assume that the problems of this are obvious, let me provide an example just to be clear. When I teach the early American history course, inevitably I encountered a misunderstanding that requires my intervention. In our discussion of European colonization and contact with Native American nations, students routinely describe Native Americans as closer to nature, “free,” in effect noble. (think Noble Savage.) Not only is this racial thinking, it is also simply inaccurate. Such stereotypes make it impossible for students to learn how history actually happened. This romanticization of the oppressed is not just racist and dehumanizing, it also poses serious pedagogical blocks that we must learn to overcome.
  • In this spirit, I have decided to incorporate a poverty-focused analysis by incorporating more lessons on poor white men in American history.  While it may seem out of place in a class titled History of Women, I believe that an examination of white men in American history will illuminate how poverty operates as a discursive tool for the elites, and thusly will enable my students to see, even more clearly, how such discourses shape their on lives.  This focus will help my students more fully understand that the discourses of poverty have historically encouraged some Americans to claim their working class status as a badge of honor, as proof of their legitimate claim to citizenry, while simultaneously shaming non-white poor people, demanding that they cloak and clean their poverty before they dare speak or act. 
  • In short, I hope to remind students that while the experience of living life as a poor person is often painful, stressful, and excruciatingly exhausting, being poor is nothing to be ashamed of. They should never feel embarrassed for their hunger, or their lack. And while they deserve to be nourished and comfortably housed in lovely spaces surrounded by art, and above all beauty, they need not aspire to the “codes” of bourgeois. The poor do not need to explain themselves–it is the abundance of the elites that must be explained.
  • This goal is broad, and its achievement will require subtlety. Meaning, I will not be announcing my agenda, nor will I ask my students to step forward as empowered citizens determined to change the world. That is not my job, moreover, it is not my place. While it would be dishonest of me to suggest that I don’t care whether or not my students decide to shift radically left and vow to smash the capitalist patriarchal state–I do, very much–I believe that such revelations must grow organically from the lessons we teach. If I superimpose my political hopes onto the minds/lives of my students, I run the very real risk of silencing the creative possibilities for fostering change that live within their histories and imaginations. Thus, all I can do is teach the lessons history has taught me and trust that my students will take what they need.

[1]  I am leaning heavily on Joan Scott’s classic essay on gender as a means of knowing to inform my thinking. “Gender: A Useful Category for Historical Analysis.” American Historical Review, 1980. 

I am still sorting out how I will do this. The main challenge is that this method involves including more material. In a course where I already struggle to squeeze in topics I find essential, I am still sorting out how I can manage to fit in three new topics. The three new topics I plan to include are:

  1. Dorr’s War and Jacksonian Democracy 
  2. The Elites Appeal to Poor White Men During the Civil War 
  3. FDR’s New Deal policies which sought to uphold the “Man of the House”

Below is an example of my schedule/syllabus for this course. As you can see, I take the basic structure of the American history survey and I “gender” it. Meaning, instead of shifting the focus toward problematic themes of “Women’s History” (such a concept implies that women existed as a pre given historical category–they did not.) I teach the course by demonstrating that ALL history has a gender, a race, etc. While I love this methodology, it does make it difficult to teach the material. Students often know nothing about, for example, the American Revolution. Thus I have to teach the basics, and then encourage a revision of what I just taught.

Weekly schedule:

WEEK 1

8/27: Welcome to Class!

8/29: What is History? The Invention Of Nations…

WEEK 2

9/5: What is Women’s History?

Ø   Reading Due: Kate Haulman “What is Women’s History?”

WEEK 3

9/12: Gender and Colonial Contact

WEEK 4

9/17: Anglo-Indian Gender Frontier

Ø  Reading Due: Kathleen Brown, “The Anglo-Indian Gender Frontier”

WEEK 5

9/24: Gender and the Invention of Plantation Slavery in America

9/26: Gender and Slavery

Ø  Reading Due: Kathleen Brown, “Engendering Race”

You must have met with me to discuss your essay topic by this date.

WEEK 6

10/1: In-class viewing of The Midwives Tale

10/3: Comparing Colonial Gender Systems

Ø  Reading Due: Mary Beth Norton Essay

WEEK 7

10/10: Essay Workshop

WEEK 8

10/15: Women and the American Revolution

10/17: The Gender of Citizenship

Complete Outline of Essay Due in Class Today

WEEK 9

10/22: Midterm Prep

10/24: Midterm

WEEK 10

10/29: Women and the Market Revolution

10/31: Continued

Ø  Reading Due: Faragher and Mintz-Kellog Essays

WEEK 11

11/5: Women in the Old South

11/7: Women’s Rights and Abolition

ESSAY DUE by 10:00pm 11/9 via Email

WEEK 12

11/12: The Victorian Body

11/14: The Invention of Sexuality

Ø  Reading Due: Michel Foucault The History of Sexuality, excerpt

WEEK 13

11/19: Women and the Progressive Era

11/21: Gender and Industrial Labor

Ø  Film Viewing Due: Triangle

WEEK 14

11/26: Women in Post-War America

11/28: Women in Post-War America

Ø  Reading Due: Stephanie Coontz “The Way We Never Were”

WEEK 15

12/3: The Second Wave

12/5: The Second Wave Continued

Ø  Reading Due: Essays by Ryan and Huerta

WEEK 16

12/10: Does Women’s History Exist?

Ø  Reading Due: Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools”

12/12: FINAL EXAM

Paoyi Huang – work-in-progress

I’m still in the early phase of developing the poverty-humanities component I wish to add to my Intro to Sociology for Spring 2022, so this is a very rough draft.

I’m interested in the topic of food insecurity, and for this institute’s requirement, I would like to combine two in-class exercise and homework assignments I assigned before and expand them to a full project.

In the unit of “stratification” in my Intro class, I asked students to keep a food journal. Students were required to record everything they eat for one to two days (a low-stakes, no-grade, informal assignment), and preferably, they should pick the day when they had classes at BMCC. Many of them were intrigued and asked if they needed to provide any other information. They were encouraged, but not required, to record where they bought the food, the price they paid, and the rationale of their food choices. I assigned the article “What Food Says About Class In America,” and students were required to bring their food journal to participate in a small-group to discuss the reading and reflect on their own experiences. Many students have never heard of terms such as “food snob,” “health nut,” “locavore,” etc. that were in the news article, but through my guidance and peer discussions, most of them were able to make the connection between their own food experiences and structural inequality.

I stopped this assignment when we transitioned to remote teaching, partly because it’s difficult to run a small-group discussion online, but mostly because I was really concerned such an assignment would add too much pressure on some students’ already traumatic experiences during the pandemic.

For the project I’m thinking to develop, I would like to include both a quantitative and a qualitative component.

For the quantitative part, students will be using New York City government’s open data portal to retrieve demographic, social, and economic data in two neighborhoods: Tribeca where the college is and the neighborhood they live in.

I’m not sure what would be more suitable for the qualitative component yet, perhaps a more developed food journal/essay, or maybe even a photo essay.

The article I assigned before is too outdated, so I want to find better readings to assign. I’ve assigned segments (race/ethnicity and food, gender and food, etc.) from the book “Pressure Cooker” (a collective ethnographic work by Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott), but I’m not too happy about the result.    

Christine Farias – work-in-progress

Collaborative Community Group Project for ECO 202 Microeconomics – Fall 2021

In the microeconomics course that I teach, a majority of the students are business administration, and other non-economics majors.  To make economics come alive and spark interest in the discipline, I strive to find ways to draw on the students’ lived experiences and encourage students to apply what they are learning in the course to their everyday life.  I teach all my economics courses (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and the elective courses – labor economics and environmental economics) through a human values, poverty, climate change and sustainability lens.  I expose students to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and assign additional readings besides the textbook readings, use short videos, invite interdisciplinary guest speakers representing different perspectives from a rich economic, social and environmental landscape, take students on off campus/virtual tours and also have students share current news stories every class meeting to experience, question and discuss the inefficiencies and externalities of economic systems and policies that exist and through the process students get an understanding of the basic economic principles and apply them to address business, social and environmental problems. 

The modification to my current microeconomics course based on the learning from the Institute is to include a group project with a poverty and humanities focus as one of the learning opportunities for the course.  The syllabus is still a work in progress.

Goals of the Assignment:

I plan to incorporate a collaborative community group project as one of the learning opportunities in my Fall 2021 microeconomics synchronous course.  This action learning project aims to apply microeconomics principles and take the classroom into the community and bring the community back into the classroom using a poverty, sustainability and humanities lens.  The project will have a group component and an individual component.  The group component will facilitate and guide participatory, and experiential interdisciplinary learning opportunities and community-oriented research while the individual component will be an opportunity for individual reflection and evaluation of the learning that takes place.

My collaborator for the group component is an alumnus and my former student, who lives in one of the poorest communities in NYC and has started a community-based organization with the objective of working with students to identify community needs and together develop approaches and project plans to meet specific community needs and then incubate small community cooperative social enterprises that will benefit the local community.  Students will co-create knowledge about their communities and use story maps to share their learning as their group projects evolve.

Learning Outcomes

  • to enhance student learning and knowledge of microeconomics by providing real-world action-learning opportunities
  • to strengthen students critical thinking, analytical and communication skills
  • to provide an applied poverty and humanities educational experience beyond the classroom
  • to give students a research experience and exposure to economics in action in their neighborhoods around NYC
  • to bring awareness of social, racial, and environmental injustice and poverty and inequality issues as it relates to communities in NYC

The community needs-based action-learning projects, chosen by the students, will enable them to apply their classroom learning of economic concepts and theories in a real-world setting.  Furthermore, this learning opportunity will enhance confidence and develop community leaders as change agents for their communities in NYC.

The objective of the group project:

  1. Give students an opportunity to collaborate, build community and engage in learning microeconomics by doing
  2. Apply a different way of thinking and doing economics
  3. Develop their critical thinking, communication and analytical skills
  4. Learn about the local community and apply economic theory to model, explain and evaluate solutions to real life economic, social and environmental issues that promote sustainable growth and development

Brief Description of the Group Project:

Students will learn how to work with a database, identify the needs of a community and apply microeconomic principles to create a project plan for a community cooperative/enterprise that promotes social well-being, reduces poverty and inequality and promotes sustainable economic growth and employment with minimum impact on the environment.   Based on the community needs assessment, each group will identify a specific economic, social or environmental problem within a specific market or community in NYC, then use microeconomic principles and theories to analyze the problem and develop an economic model that will provide a solution that is financially, socially and environmentally sustainable.   Each group will consist of up to 5 students and will work on their projects starting in week 3 or 4 of the semester.  At the end of the semester each group will be given 20 minutes to present their project to the class.  In addition to the group presentation and group paper, each member of the group will submit an individual reflection paper on their learning from the project as well as will provide an evaluation of each group member’s contribution to the project. Throughout the semester students will engage in classroom discussions, and individual and group economics application and communication exercises to apply the microeconomic concepts and principles learned in the course using a poverty, humanities and sustainability lens. 

Here is a sampling of resources.  Specific resources will be determined at the time the project is assigned.

Justin Kirk reads “The Commuter’s Lament,” by Norman B. Colp for Gothamist.

Goats and Soda (NPR) – “Oh Dear: Photos Show What Humans Have Done To The Planet”

Documentary: The Corporation

Ruth Lister, Poverty/2nd ed. (Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2021): 14-43.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. “The Serviceberry: An Economy of Abundance,” Emergence Magazine, Dec. 10, 2020. https://emergencemagazine.org/essay/the-serviceberry/

Global Hunger:

(Part 1) Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel

(Part 2)

Introduction to Donut Economics:

Community District Needs Assessment

Shin, J., Chatterjee, D., Krampner, J.,  & Virgin, V. (2020).  Annual Report from the Office of the Mayor – Poverty Measure – NYC Opportunity.   

Uneven Growth NYC

Interference Archive Exhibition (2019). Everybody’s Got a Right to Live: The Poor People’s Campaign 1968 & Now

Museum of the City of New York: New York at its Core Exhibition.

Nora Almeida

Nora Almeida is Assistant Professor in the Library Department at New York City College of Technology and a member of the library’s instruction team. She teaches library credit courses including the place-based interdisciplinary course Learning Places. She is the subject specialist for the Human Services and Architectural Technology Departments and also teaches information literacy sessions for English Composition and Public Speaking classes. Prof. Almeida also leads library outreach and instructional design activities and you might find her screenprinting with students during club hour or working to integrate library resources into educational technology platforms like OpenLab.

Alongside her work at City Tech, Prof. Almeida is a long-time volunteer at Interference Archive, an exhibition space, community center, and open-stacks archive of social movement ephemera in Park Slope, Brooklyn. At Interference she helps with educational programing, coordinates class visits, runs Wikipedia edit-a-thons, and helps with events and exhibitions.

Shawn Grant – work-in-progress

Poverty intersects with so many areas of law. In my BUS 110 course I plan to “sprinkle” discussions of poverty throughout the course.  We will discuss impacts on low-income and poverty impacted populations as we analyze certain policies, legislation and case law.  We will also address the roles of corporate social responsibility, corporate social activism and the role of business in perpetuating poverty.

Topic:  Wage Theft

In addition to discussion of the law and legal cases, we may also briefly explore song, and poetry regarding wage theft.  Some resources I might use are:

Minimum Wage (Matthew Dickman)

My mother and I are on the front porch lighting
each other’s cigarettes
as if we were on a ten-minute break from our jobs
at being a mother and son,
just ten minutes to steal a moment
of freedom before clocking back in,
before putting the aprons back on, the paper hats,
washing our hands twice and then standing
behind the counter again,
hoping for tips, hoping the customers
will be nice, will say some kind word, the cool
front yard before us and the dogs
in the back yard shitting on everything.
We are hunched over, two extras
on the set of “The Night of the Hunter.” I am pulling
a second cigarette out of the pack,
a swimmer rising from a pool of other swimmers.
Soon we will go back inside and sit
in the yellow kitchen and drink the rest of the coffee
and what is coming to kill us will pour milk into mine
and sugar into hers. Some kitchens
are full of mothers and sons with no mouths, no eyes,
and no hands, but our mouths are like the mouths of fire-
eaters and our eyes are like the million
eyes of flies. Our hands are like the hands of the living.

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)  (Marvin Gay)

Ese Guey No Paga (That Dude Doesn’t Pay)

Learning objectives:

Students Will

  • 1.    Understand one way businesses play a role in perpetuating poverty
  • 2. Define wage theft and identify its impact, particularly on low-wage workers
  • 3. Discuss the history and role of the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • 4. Analyze rampant wage theft during the COVID-19 pandemic

(1) Question: What is the most prevalent property crime in the U.S.? Students will post their answers on the jam board and I will call on a few students to share their answers and explain their reasoning. From that point, we will discuss wage theft as one of the most prevalent property crimes in the U.S., exceeding instances of car theft, burglary and larceny, and disproportionately affecting millions of low-wage workers in fields with high percentages of women and POC.  Across the country employers steal billions of dollars from worker’s pay checks every year—most face no consequences. 

(2)  Competing in Teams, students will engage in a game called “Is it Wage Theft?” in which they will review various scenarios to identify whether wage theft is taking place. (Kahoot, Quizizz or another game based learning platform)

(3) In Small Group (break-out rooms) students will discuss and share their own experiences with wage theft.  Volunteers will share out to the whole class at the end of the Zoom session.

(4)  Some wage theft is obvious (e.g. asking employees to work off the clock). We will review a pay stub to uncover “hidden” wage theft.

(5)  We will discuss how workers and employees can take action to take to end wage theft.

NOTE: My position is to really include the topics of poverty and race throughout my course rather than one module.

Mahatapa Palit – work-in-progress

My principal goal in teaching marketing is to help students understand the creative problem-solving process that underlies marketing practice. Typically, in my classes, I do not talk about poverty, nor the structural barriers that people in poverty face in my class. However, poverty stemming from inequality is the underlying problem that society faces – it is the #1 UN Sustainable Development Goal. It affects my students’ lives – their health, education, relationships, and professional success. 

My students know poverty well. As community college students, 70% face a combination of food and housing insecurity (Dedman, 2019).  And yet when we study how organizations can succeed when they can add value to their customer’s lives, most of my students focus on aspirational products and services related to fitness, beauty, fashion, food, and internet of things. Very few consider products and services that can solve social problems. Perhaps, very few believe that social problems of such magnitude can be solved.

Inspired by the Voicing Poverty Summer Institute, I would like to set two goals to revamp my Introduction to Marketing course. One, to build empathy in the classroom where poverty and life can be discussed in a more human way; and two, to encourage my students to look at creative ways to solve social problems emanating from poverty but without stigmatizing the problem or those who face these problems.

Goal 1: Building Empathy/ Oneness

While some people think that the main goal of businesses is to make a profit, I tend to take more of a societal view of business, one that ensures that economies remain strong, and take care of all their citizens. I would like my students as future business professionals to learn to work collaboratively and with empathy, to benefit not only the organization but also society. To set this new tone, I plan to start the class by taking two minutes on Zoom to check in with each other focusing on two questions: What are we grateful for today? What did not go well? Students would post their own responses on the chat, and, also, respond to some of their fellow students. In addition, to building empathy, I believe this will create a sense of belongingness and community in the classroom and help me know who needs help and even what we can celebrate. Empathy can be a tricky subject. In the world of business, organizations employ design thinking to understand how to solve users’ problems. But there is concern that if empathy is only used as a means to an end, it can lead the designer to overlook the historical roots of the problem, without sufficiently understanding and feeling how the problem impacts the user. Bennet & Rosner (2019) call for designers to develop an affective partnership with the user, “attending to the difference between themselves and the users without reifying that difference once again.”

Goal 2: Solving Social problems

My second adaptation would be for students to introspect on the social problems that face their communities and choose to creatively problem-solve issues that resonate most deeply with them. I would like to set the stage by having my students look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals that focus on the world’s biggest problems and go over a few entrepreneurial solutions that organizations have developed to address these “wicked” problems. Instead, of looking at a world with shiny objects, what would the experience be for them if they look at the problems related to poverty in their own communities, and serve as change agents? In this new semester-long project in my Introduction to Marketing class, students will:

  1. Review the Solutions U platform that curates journalistic articles related to social problems such as Gun/Gang violence; Homelessness; Joblessness; Education-gap among new immigrants that arise from poverty and, discuss the ones that most resonate with them.
  2. Go on a community walk to observe problems that they see manifest in their neighborhood.
  3. Research the breadth and depth of the problem and explore databases such as Infoshare and local newspapers to understand the significance of the problem in their neighborhood.
  4. Brainstorm potential solutions with their team.
  5. Practice empathy as they speak and spend time interviewing the users, using the principles of design-thinking to understand the roots of the problem and how it impacts the users. They will learn to approach the user with humility, keeping in mind that they will never be able to fully understand the breadth and depth of the problem, and credit the user with the solution that they create.
  6. Build an empathy map based on the interviews and discuss what the interviewees said, felt, thought, and did to arrive at potential solutions
  7. Unpack the insights that they received from the interviews and consider if this would require them to modify their initial solutions?
  8. Watch as a team the documentary ‘The Line: Poverty in America’ by Linda Midgett (2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHyNBGIFYl8  and then discuss the structural issues that were at the root of the social problems that they were tackling.
  9. Create a social media campaign to advocate for change to solve the problem, visiting the Interference Archive that saves cultural productions of social movements for inspiration.
  10. Present their findings on the need of their community and their plans for a social media campaign to their local community boards, taking on the role of citizen-researchers.

References

Goldrick-Rab, S., Richardson, J., & Hernandez, A. (2017). Hungry and homeless in college: Results from a national study of basic needs insecurity in higher education.

Dedman, B. (2019). Majority of College Students Experience Food Insecurity, Housing Insecurity, or Homelessness. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/aacu-news/newsletter/majority-college-students-experience-food-insecurity-housing-insecurity

Bennett, C. L., & Rosner, D. K. (2019, May). The Promise of Empathy: Design, Disability, and Knowing the” Other”. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1-13).

Schneur Zalman Newfield – work-in-progress

I am still in the early stages of developing the poverty-humanities component I wish to add to my Sociology 100 course for Spring 2022.

At this point I’m thinking that I would like to design it as a pairing of sociology and literature texts that inform each other and encourage the students to think in a more expansive way about the many dimensions of poverty, including how it may impact their own lives or the lives of those around them. 

I am thinking of having a writing assignment for the course where students are required to write a short essay reflecting on the two sets of texts in connection with each other.

I have some ideas about which sociology texts to include, such as a short piece from Erik Olin Wright or an excerpt from one of the following texts: Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action Was White, or Frances Fox Piven’s and Richard Cloward’s Poor People’s Movements.  

I am eager for suggestions on sociology texts to include and especially eager for suggestions on literature texts to include (these can be essays, short stories, an excerpt of a play, etc.).   

Here, again, is my Sociology 100 syllabus.

Harini Mittal work-in-progress

BUS 54 – Entrepreneurship

Bronx Community College

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the dimensions of poverty that impact students and their larger community
  2. Recognize and discuss successful role models of businesses from inner cities and/or under-resourced communities.
  3. Develop business ideas that can be a solution to at least of one of the dimensions of poverty identified.

Strategies

For outcome 1: Show some documentaries on some dimensions of poverty such as homelessness, hunger, health care etc. Ask students then to share their experiences from their own personal understanding, using story-telling techniques.

For outcome 2: Explore resources such as ICIC, MWBE networks to discover success stories and document them.

For outcome 3: Brainstorm ideas to address challenges identified in outcome 1 using techniques like design thinking, improv etc.

Tools from Humanities that I plan to use

  1. Video record the elevator pitch
  2. Ask the team to present the group ideas and solutions in the form of a play
  3. Encourage the students to use improv, poems or even rap songs to express themselves

Texts/videos that I plan to use

“100 Fastest-Growing Inner-City Businesses,” Fortune. https://fortune.com/inner-city-100/

Urban Business Initiatives – Success Stories: https://icic.org/urban-business-initiatives/inner-city-100/ic100-success-stories/

Inner City Business Growth: https://icic.org/research/inner-city-business-growth/

Helping Entrepreneurs of Color Grow their BusinessEarly Insights from the Ascend 2020 Initiative (ICIC | UW Foster School of Business | JPMorgan Chase & Co., 12/2018) http://icic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/ICIC_Ascend2020_Report_r8_final_post_v2.pdf

This is work in progress.