Courses

 

Humanities Action Lab – Affiliated Courses

Fall 2015

The New School

Curating Global Dialogue: Incarceration
Radhika Subramaniam and Julia Foulkes, Parsons, Art/Design History & Theory
Students are responsible for building New York City’s “chapter” of the exhibit and web platform. To create their local piece of the exhibit, students work with research provided by the Humanities Action Lab Project Hub; conduct original research as needed; and put together a public presentation of the issue that follows guidelines and goals developed by all the partners and a common design template.This course explores theories, politics, and practices of socially engaged public humanities and museology by creating a project on the past, present, and future of incarceration. We examine the explosion of prisons and incarcerated people in the US, and the attendant expansion of immigration detention centers, through local, national, and global dimensions of the problem. Combining historical and theoretical study with hands-on experience, students collaborate with at least a dozen other universities around the country to develop a traveling exhibit, digital platform, oral histories, face-to-face community dialogues, and interactive media. The exhibit opens in Spring 2016 at the New School and travels to at least a dozen other cities across the country over the next two years. This is a unique opportunity for students to question and propose innovative ways that museums and curators – and the combination of the humanities and design – can generate and exchange locally-grounded approaches to complex global questions and explore strategies for encouraging dialogue.


Documentary Practices
Graham McIndoe, Parsons, Art, Media & Technology
This course is devoted to the exploration of a specific topic through documentary strategies and collaborative exchange. Students explore new means of distribution and dissemination of documentary work through guerrilla tactics, social media, and public interventions working inside and outside the gallery system. A new topic is explored each semester pairing with internal or external partners and communities. Students are expected to participate in the collaborative nature of the class.


Participatory Community Engagement
Erica Kohl-Arenas, NSPE, Milano School of International Affairs – Full year course
Students may 1) design and facilitate dialogues at the exhibition during April 2016 among and across different NYC stakeholder groups and public audiences; 2) design a “dialogue kit” for exhibit hosts across the country to use when the exhibit comes to their communities.  Do you want to learn how to facilitate dialogue around difficult social justice issues? Are you concerned with mass incarceration and structural inequality? In the yearlong Participatory Community Engagement course students will design and facilitate dialogues and community building activities associated with the Humanities Action Lab’s Global Dialogues on Incarceration Project and in partnership with Groundswell Murals. This course has two primary goals. First, students will gain an understanding of the theory behind participatory community development, popular education and critical pedagogy. Students will read about and collectively discuss questions of powerlessness, marginalization, poverty, and inequality and how grassroots participatory processes have inspired community driven approaches to addressing these enduring problems. Students will also engage with academic critiques in order to learn how to critically evaluate participatory models. Through partnerships with local organizations and communities students will experiment with key participatory strategies. Through practice, theory, and dialogue students will learn the promises and also the inherent challenges of using participatory methodologies as a vehicle for social change. 


Take Care: An Introduction to Curatorial Studies & Practice
Carin Kuoni, NSPE BPATS
Students could design public programs for the April 2016 run of the exhibit at TNS; curate additional digital material for the web portion of the exhibit; provide curatorial critique for the students in the “Curating Global Dialogue” course and others around the countryThis seminar-style class offers a comprehensive introduction to the history and theory of curating in a Western context. We begin with the establishment of public museums in Europe and the Americas; the cultural and economic enterprise of 19th century World Fairs and their successors, the art biennials of our time; the institutionalization of the curatorial profession including the development of a codes of ethics and conduct; and the recent proliferation of curatorial models that are focusing on socially engaged, discoursive or otherwise distributed creative practices. As we dive deep into the rich history of the curatorial field, we will study in-depth key positions in recent curatorial theory including those by Nicolas Bourriaud, Claire Bishop, Grant Kester, and Maria Lind. Our research will be applied to and tested against three concurrent events: the exhibition at Parsons of Abounaddara, an anonymous filmmaker collective from Syria, recipient of the 2014 Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics; the Humanities Action Lab’s project on Incarceration; and a string of public programs on the Vera List Center’s new curatorial focus theme for 2015-17. Students will emerge from this class with solid historical knowledge of the curatorial profession, including current trends in this exploding field. They will also have tried their hands at formulating their own curatorial projects that will intersect with the events described above. Such practical immersion will require very active participation in class, but also at events that will occur outside of classroom time. The class will provide students with theoretical, historical and practical skills crucial for leaders in the creative industries, where demands are high to frame and “take care” (Lat. curare) of the public articulation of social, cultural and political issues.

Arizona State University

Incarceration, Immigration, & the Borderlands
Dr. Leah Sarat, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies
Arizona State University students and community partners will explore lessons from Arizona’s history, focusing on immigrant detention and its impact on women and children. Arizona’s “sunbelt justice” helped drive the transformation of incarceration across the country. It’s now a national battleground over immigration detention. The ASU team will explore the criminalization of immigrants and potentially, the role of religion in immigration detention centers, partnering with the Phoenix Restoration Project and others. Their chapter of the exhibit may also include a focus on art that is produced by individuals in prisons and detention centers. Local partners hope the project will help people realize and make connections between immigrant detention and mass incarceration.

Brown University

Locked Up: A Global History of Prison and Captivity
Amy Remensnyder
Professor Amy Remensnyder teaches a course in the History Department on the history of incarceration, and also teaches at the Adult Correctional Institution in Rhode Island. Brown students will work on a panel called “Global Incarceration” while ACI (the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute) students shall provide commentary on all the panels as a form of talk back for the local exhibit. This class will involve intellectual exchange with the prisoner-students at the ACI to historicize the shifting meanings and experiences of incarceration and captivity and explore struggles for power over narrating history and engages current tensions in national memory. Students will consider the history of racial formation through encounters with the judicial system, with policing practices, with detention, and incarceration.

Race and Remembering
Monica Muñoz Martinez, American Studies
This junior seminar engages conversations and debates in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, Women and Gender Studies, and the Public Humanities that grapple with the relationship between historical narratives, memory, and social relations of power. This course explores struggles for power over narrating history and engages current tensions in national memory. Students will engage questions regarding remembering, forgetting, memorializing, and reckoning with histories of racial formation. What memories are forgotten and erased in public history? What are the roots of these erasures? What are the methodological and narrative pitfalls of re-presenting these histories? Each year the topic of this course will change to consider racial formation through alternating social and cultural institutions. This semester we will consider the history of racial formation through encounters with the judicial system, with policing practices, with detention, and incarceration. We will explore how people remember policing practices in rural/urban environments and at the nations geographic borders.

DePaul University

Mass Incarceration & Public Memory
Amy Tyson
DePaul University students and partners will focus on sources written by incarcerated, or formerly incarcerated, individuals. Engagement with these sources – letters, memoirs, novels—will be undergirded by articles that will provide broader historical context, and help the students understand how these sources contributed to the public memory of mass incarceration. Specific attention may be given to historic representation of incarcerated individuals through artifacts of culture such as novels, movies, and the like. Throughout the quarter DePaul students will be corresponding with students who are housed at Stateville Penitentiary. These students are participating in an Inside/Out course, which is taught by Prof. Kim Moe, and has students both from Stateville and from DePaul. Both “inside” and “outside” students in this course will be collaborating with on final digital projects.

Duke University

Humanities Action Lab: Mass Incarceration Project
Jessica Namakkal, International Comparative Studies & Robin Kirk, Cultural Anthropology
Duke students will explore the theories, politics, and practices of socially engaged public humanities and museology by creating a project on the past, present, and future of incarceration, exploring the explosion of prisons and incarcerated people in the US – including immigration detention centers — and its global dimensions. A recent report released by the Equal Justice Initiative located in Montgomery, AL, entitled “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” listed North Carolina as one of the “12 most active lynching states in America.” As Angel Harris, staff attorney for the ACLU Capital Punishment Project has written, “no white person has ever been convicted for the lynching of an African-American” and “the unjust execution of African-American men thrives today on the same soil on the lynching trees: Only now the the noose has been replaced with the needle.” According to the NC Department of Public Safety, more than 1,000 persons have been sent to North Carolina’s death row since the state began executions in 1910. Duke University students will take an investigative look at this history alongside longstanding issues of race and the death penalty. Currently, there are 150 people on North Carolina’s death row (148 men, 2 women). All are being held at two prisons in Raleigh, NC: the men in Central Prison, and the women at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women. Students will examine the history of the death penalty and capital punishment as a global issue and create a project gathering histories and experiences of the death penalty in North Carolina.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Applied Project: Mass Incarceration
Modupe Labode, History and Museum Studies
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Public History and Museum Studies students propose to the focus on the intersections of mass incarceration and mental health. They will explore historical roots of these issues, particularly the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, through a partnership with the Indiana Medical History Museum which is housed in the Old Pathology Building on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital (1848-1994), on Indianapolis’ west side.

This historicization of mental health and incarceration will take on a focus of racialized disparities in treatment of mental illness and incarceration. IUPUI partners will examine asylums as spaces of confinement (related to racialized, classist, and & sexualized categories of deviance) but also implications for repercussions of terminating institutional confinement – i.e. the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, particularly since the 1960s/1970s. Telling the story of deinstitutionalization, opening dialogue about state care responsibility, and safety, broader questions explored may include: Who deserves to be detained? What are the definitions of criminality and how have they changed over time? Other possible connections include: histories of experimentation on prisoners throughout history (also Indiana was the first state to pass Eugenics laws), making connections with mental health in contemporary prisons and questions about different memory practices since asylums are often thought of as “spooky” or haunted in the popular imagination. What do the spaces mean and how do they exist in our consciousness as sites of trauma – can we change perception? This course will examine the history, future, and global meanings of incarceration in the United States, and the intersection of mental health.

Northeastern University

Issues and Problems in Public History
Marty Blatt, Public History
Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk, or MCI – Norfolk, is a medium security prison in Norfolk, MA, with an average daily population of 1500 inmates. Though it is rated medium security, it also houses up to 98 maximum security inmates. Opened in the early 1930s, MCI – Norfolk is the largest state prison in Massachusetts. One of the notable inmates of MCI – Norfolk was Malcolm X, who was also a member of the Norfolk Debate Society while incarcerated. MCI – Norfolk was originally founded in 1927 as the Norfolk Prison Colony, the first “community-based” prison in the United States. The “model prison community” was conceived by sociologist and penologist, Howard Belding Gill, who was appointed its first superintendent in 1931. The first inmates were transferred to MCI – Norfolk from the State Prison at Charlestown.

 

Northeastern University students and local partners will uncover the history and explore narratives of those detained at MCI – Norfolk. Students will explore concepts of memory, heritage, place, and community, as well as current controversies, trends, and theories that continue to change the face of public history.

Parsons Paris

Proseminar
Emmanuel Guy
Parsons Paris students will explore the theoretical frameworks of Michel Foucault, the sites on which his frameworks were based, and how they addressed the questions the overall exhibit will explore. A new archive of Foucault’s materials has just been established at the Bilbilothèque Nationale, which will offer students an opportunity to further research and unpack more of his material. Students may also make connections between US and French histories of confinement, and related contemporary issues of immigration detention, political movements that occur within prisons and political prisoners.

Rutgers University-Newark

Public History and Mass Incarceration
Mary Rizzo, Public & Digital Humanities, American Studies
The Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, NJ, is one of the largest facilities in the country used in detaining undocumented immigrants and was the defendant in a mid-1990s lawsuit accusing its private operator, the Esmor Corporation, of abusing detainees. The Elizabeth Detention Center is a 300 bed jail run by Corrections Corporation of America. It holds immigrants, including asylum seekers, who are held in custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to ICE, the Elizabeth facility is “a temporary detention center for individuals who are waiting for their immigration status to be determined or who are awaiting repatriation.” Elizabeth Detention Center is intensely interconnected with the history of RU – Newark, situated just seven miles away from campus. The only successful legal case ever brought against the prison was brought up by a law faculty member, community members, and Rutgers students. Rutgers University-Newark’s project will connect with the Newest Americans Project and Center for Migration and the Global City, both based at RU – Newark and run by Professor Tim Raphael, and the abundant immigrant communities surrounding campus. Students will examine how public historians have delved into the challenges and opportunities that arise when dealing with slavery, trauma, violence, and structural inequality. Students will focus on the Elizabeth Detention Center, specifically on a mostly forgotten riot that took place at the detention center in 1995 (then called Esmor).

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Public Histories of Detention and Mass Incarceration
Andy Urban, American Studies & History
Seabrook Farms was a frozen foods processing facility and World War II labor camp in southern New Jersey, near the town of Bridgeton, which housed Japanese American and Japanese Peruvian detainees, as well as German POWs. The histories of Japanese Americans and Japanese Peruvians will be the main focus of RU – New Brunswick students’ project. Approximately three to five thousand internees came through Seabrook Farms, making it perhaps the single largest recipient of Nisei released from camps.

Rutgers University students and partners hope to use these histories to explore the relationship between detention and labor more broadly, and capitalism’s historic reliance on a captive labor force, whether through slavery, indenture, or the spatial mechanism of control that the “company town” represents. Since the workers at Seabrook Farms were in effect parolees, the project aims to actively explore this topic, using Seabrook as a lens for thinking about how incarcerated or detained individuals prove their eligibility for release, and the performances this entails. Finally, many migrant laborers continue to move through southern New Jersey each harvest season, so this is a particularly potent local connection to make. Students will examine the politics, economics, and social and cultural meanings of incarceration and detention – from the colonial era to the present – and the centrality of these practices to American history.

Skidmore College

Adventures in Public History: The Prison Project
Eric J. Morser, History
Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility, originally a resort, later a sanitorium, and finally a medium security prison closed in 2014. As a space of multiple forms of incarceration, it connects to Saratoga Springs, NY’s many histories. The 86-acre facility was also home to the cottage where former President Ulysses S. Grant spent the last 10 days of his life; Grant’s Cottage has operated as a museum both during and after Mt. McGregor’s time as a prison. Skidmore College students will focus on the past and present influence of incarceration through the voices of former inmates, correctional facility staff, and community members. This semester, students will will focus on the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility, a medium security prison for male inmates that closed in 2014.

University of Connecticut

The Historian’s Craft
Micki McElya, History
University of Connecticut students will unpack issues of mass incarceration by investigating the histories of The Old New-Gate Prison and Mine, historic places of confinement, and prison museums in Connecticut. Simultaneously, the UConn team will focus on prison labor, tourism, and public history at sites from 19th century to present. Possible linkages may include incarceration, state development and citizenship in Connecticut in the long view.

University of California, Riverside

University of California, Riverside
Catherine Gudis, History
University of California – Riverside students plan to focus thematically for their contributions to the HAL Global Dialogues traveling exhibition. The students along with their partners hope to present digitally and in their regional exhibition a “re-mapping” of carceral spaces in California that identifies (albeit selectively) prisons, jails, internment, and detention centers and that splinters or overlays carceral maps of different sorts over our region. Ideally, this would be through moving imagery, utilizing informational graphics.

For the traveling exhibition, the team will pursue research related to the school to prison pipeline (or continuum, as some put it). Current issues of gang injunctions, educational discrimination, police violence, and racial profiling are those that students and organizers identify. Investigations will likely include historic sites such as reform and boarding schools (Whittier State School, Ventura School for Girls, Sherman Indian School), key events that have publicly defined notions of delinquency (the Sleepy Lagoon case and Zoot Suit riots of the 1940s and gang injunctions of the recent past) or become cause for power movements (the case of Chol Soo Lee of the 1970s), and activist youth groups who seek reform (e.g., Youth Justice Coalition).

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Introduction to Public History
Marla Miller, History
The University of Massachusetts – Amherst team plans to focus on issues of women, gender, and reproductive justice, including birthing in the Massachusetts prison system. Within this theme students and partners plan to explore and interpret broader histories of prison reform, abolitionism, and activism, particularly by women of color and LGBTQ people. Their chapter will help address the question: what histories can help us understand movements today? What is the lived experience of incarceration, particularly for women, LGBTQ people, and families including those on the “outside”?

University of Miami

American States of Incarceration
Carolina Villalba, American Studies & Africana Studies
The Krome Detention Center is one of most well-known immigration detention centers in the United States. Located in Miami, Florida, the facility holds an average of 600 immigration detainees. (The ICE detainee population at Krome has fluctuated between 550 and 875 since 2006.) People interred at Krome are either in removal proceedings or are awaiting deportation. Since 2009, the majority of people detained are from Haiti, followed by large numbers of people from Mexico, Guatemala, China, and El Salvador. Over 30 other nationalities are represented at the facility. The facility is formally referred to as the Krome North Service Processing Center. Students at the University of Miami will explore how the problem of mass incarceration in the contemporary U.S. comprises various states of imprisonment and reflects racialized constructions of criminality dating back to the antebellum era. Working collaboratively community partner Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) students will explore local questions related to mass incarceration and immigrant detention, through service-learning civic engagement. Students will work with FLIC to support and facilitate visitation programs for immigrant detainees held at the Krome North Processing Center (Krome) and/or Broward Transitional Center (BTC).

University of Minnesota

Public History: Mass Incarceration and Public Memory
Kevin P. Murphy, History
The team at UMN will be building upon a project that students are already working on around Fort Snelling, focusing on its use as a concentration camp for Dakota prisoners during the Civil War and connecting this history with the contemporary incarceration of Native Americans – the highest per capita incarcerated population in the US. The local chapter will explore how settler colonialism and US territory expansion affected incarceration of Native Americans alongside the history of contemporary incarceration of Native Americans in Minnesota. University of Minnesota is a land grant university with an obligation to engage citizens at large. This project is vital in fulfilling its mission.

Public History: Public Memory and Mass Incarceration Fall 2015
Kevin P. Murphy, History
The team at UMN will be building upon a project that students are already working on around Fort Snelling, focusing on its use as a concentration camp for Dakota prisoners during the Civil War and connecting this history with the contemporary incarceration of Native Americans – the highest per capita incarcerated population in the US. The local chapter will explore how settler colonialism and US territory expansion affected incarceration of Native Americans alongside the history of contemporary incarceration of Native Americans in Minnesota. University of Minnesota is a land grant university with an obligation to engage citizens at large. This project is vital in fulfilling its mission.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Museum and Historic Site Interpretation: Principles and Practice
Christopher Graham, History
The history of convict labor and prisoner resistance to systemic abuses is a central concern in the history of the development of the carceral state. At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro our class will take up the story of chain gang labor on North Carolina’s roads in the 1920s. Progressive reformers introduced the road labor concept in the 1910s as a humane improvement over the older system of convict leasing to private corporations, and as a way to supply labor to the pressing need for good roads to support industrial and commercial growth. Actual administration of the system, however, fell to counties, not the reformers in state governments. County administrators subjected prisoners living in road camps to frequent floggings and beatings, denied them medical care and adequate food and shelter, and frequently killed any who resisted. Chain gangs continued to be used until the 1940s, but state assumption of road construction and the infusion of New Deal funding during the 1930s preceded the end of this particular system.

The UNC-Greensboro component will tell the story of a moment in the 1920s when prisoners themselves pushed back against the systematic abuses through letters to public officials. Through these letters, men on chain gangs revealed themselves to be conscientious about their status and politically savvy. Centering our narrative on their voices and experiences will work toward the outcome goal of humanizing incarcerated people.

Further, our class wants visitors to emerge from the exhibit troubled by the ways that incarceration supports material prosperity in our society. The story of chain gang labor in the 1920s is an important historical link because one result was a superior transportation system of which North Carolinians have long been proud. In what other ways has convict labor facilitated prosperity and comfort in our own lives, and at what cost?

We will partner with the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro to host the exhibit. The ICRCM is a natural venue for exhibits and programs that challenge mainstream assumptions about race, incarceration, and society. We plan to further develop local content based on contemporary issues of police misconduct in Greensboro, or the continued use of convict labor by the state of North Carolina.

University of New Orleans

Sociology: Policing and Prisons in Local and Global Perspective
Ben Weber, Sociology & History
The Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, is the largest maximum security prison in the United States. It has about 6,300 prisoner and operates an 18,000 acre prison farm. The University of New Orleans team plan to focus on the convict leasing era during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to engaging stakeholders and concerned community members, University of New Orleans students plan to work with youth involved with the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LACCR) Juvenile Justice Project, the Ashé Cultural Center, and potentially some local high schools.

The team will be using historic images, maps, and sound clips from Angola in addition to textual materials such as the prison newspaper called “The Angolite.” Much of the primary source material will be drawn from the Angola Prison Museum, the LSU Special Collections, Tulane’s Historical Louisiana Collection, the Louisiana State Museum, and the State Archives in Baton Rouge. Public events will be hosted by UNO History Dept. and the Midlo Center in collaboration with the Louisiana State Museum and/or the Ashe Cultural Center.

University of Texas at Austin

Architectures of Migration: The Space of Texas Detention Centers
Sarah L. Lopez, Architecture
Students at the University of Texas will dive into a multidisciplinary and multimedia course that explores the spatial histories of migrant detention centers in Texas. Students will conduct primary field research on the history, siting, design, and use of migrant detention centers throughout the semester. Their field-research will culminate in photographs, site plans, drawings, maps/diagrams, and oral histories.

 

Students will work with Grassroot Leadership, an organization fighting private detention, and the Center for Urban School Partnerships, a non-profit improving urban schools via collaborative partnerships to engage with various actors that either produce these places, manage them, and/or organize on issues related to immigrant rights. The course is not only about the history, meaning, and theories behind “detention,” but also methods for studying the social and political implications of institutional built environments.

Vanderbilt University

Critical Responses to Mass Incarceration
Lisa Guenther, Philosophy
Vanderbilt University students and community partners will investigate the school-to-prison pipeline, youth incarceration, and issues of restorative and transformative justice. Students will engage critically with issues raised by mass incarceration in the U.S., asking both what philosophers can bring to the conversation and also what we can learn from the analysis and collective action of thinkers and activists beyond the academic discipline of philosophy.

Students will focus on a local private prison currently being built at the foot of a mothballed nuclear power plant in Hartsville, Tennessee, an hour northeast of Nashville.  As the course unfolds and the prison nears completion, students will critically examine the issues of space, power, and history in relation to this site, as well as to broader issues of mass incarceration in the U.S.

Spring 2016

The New School

Creative Justice
Yana Dimitrova, Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students – Arts and Social Engagement

View in course catalog.

Transformative Justice builds on the cultural and social assets of a community to end all forms of violence while restoring safety and healing relationships. The arts become a powerful tool in this process by generating dialogue, strengthening a sense of community, and envisioning community based interventions. In this course, we examine how artists, cultural workers, and community activists have devised creative strategies for responding to institutional and interpersonal violence and trauma. How does creativity work to promote trust? How do the arts reveal social issues differently? Do the arts prompt more action? We start by looking at successful models of creative intervention and then consider the specific current issue of communities that have been disenfranchised by policing practices like “stop and frisk” and punitive criminal justice policies. We consider whether the very system that has had such a destabilizing impact on their community can also be depended upon to “serve and protect” that community. How might the arts intervene in this dilemma?


Incarceration: A Podcast
Sarah Montague, Eugene Lang Liberal Arts College – Journalism and Design

View in course catalog.

Students will have the opportunity to design and produce the pilot programs for a new podcast series on the topic of incarceration, partnering with a national project spearheaded by the New School’s Humanities Action Lab. Using materials provided by 20 academic institutions, as well as additional audio content as needed, the class will design a podcast series that will reflect on and extend the themes, issues, people, and places affected by incarceration. Students will identify audio sources; participate in interviews; research and report on stories for inclusion in the podcast; and learn scripting and audio production skills. The podcast launch will coincide with the opening exhibit at the New School in April of 2016.


Literature of Incarceration
Anthony Anemone, Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students

View in course catalog.

Throughout history, prison has provided examples of the best and worst in the human experience. Alongside shocking depictions of the violence and horror of incarceration, prison literature also tells inspirational tales of courage, idealism, and self-transformation (e.g., Martin Luther King, Henry David Thoreau, Malcolm X). Through close readings of novels, memoirs, and essays about the uses and abuses, historical and contemporary, of incarceration in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, we will focus on the political, moral, social, and psychological ramifications of life behind bars. As we cover topics such as violence, race, sexuality, politics, counter-terrorism, censorship, and prisoners of conscience, we will examine the profound impact that imprisonment has had on the lives of both inmates and guards.



Monitoring & Evaluation
Mark Johnson, Milano, Schools of Public Engagement

View in course catalog.
How does one understand whether a project or program was successful? Monitoring and Evaluation is a skill, and a profession, that has developed and grown through the aid and development industry’s need to determine and measure impact and outcomes, and therefore success. Yet most M&E is done inadequately, primarily qualitatively and ex-post-facto. This course will approach M&E through project design, working on a logical framework and developing measurable indicators, the foundation of monitoring and evaluation. The pedagogical approach will be experiential, in that students will develop monitoring and evaluation for an existing project, and at semester’s end complete an evaluation report.


Participatory Community Engagement
Erica Kohl-Arenas, NSPE, Milano School of International Affairs – Full year course
Students may 1) design and facilitate dialogues at the exhibition during April 2016 among and across different NYC stakeholder groups and public audiences; 2) design a “dialogue kit” for exhibit hosts across the country to use when the exhibit comes to their communities.  Do you want to learn how to facilitate dialogue around difficult social justice issues? Are you concerned with mass incarceration and structural inequality? In the yearlong Participatory Community Engagement course students will design and facilitate dialogues and community building activities associated with the Humanities Action Lab’s Global Dialogues on Incarceration Project and in partnership with Groundswell Murals. This course has two primary goals. First, students will gain an understanding of the theory behind participatory community development, popular education and critical pedagogy. Students will read about and collectively discuss questions of powerlessness, marginalization, poverty, and inequality and how grassroots participatory processes have inspired community driven approaches to addressing these enduring problems. Students will also engage with academic critiques in order to learn how to critically evaluate participatory models. Through partnerships with local organizations and communities students will experiment with key participatory strategies. Through practice, theory, and dialogue students will learn the promises and also the inherent challenges of using participatory methodologies as a vehicle for social change. 


Prisons, Punishment & Global (In)Justice
Eric Anthamatten, Global Studies

View in course catalog.

The United States is living through an era of mass incarceration, with nearly 7 million people, mostly poor persons of color, in prisons, jails, or under some form of carceral surveillance. Is the US out of step with the rest of the world or is this part of a global trend? How did the US end up being one of the world’s largest jailor of people in the “land of the free”, with over 2 million locked inside walls and cages? This course examines how this situation came to be, what it is, and the effects it has on various levels of society. It asks whether the role of the prison as the primary mechanism of punishment is still a valid form of justice, in the United States and as a global phenomenon. Students will become familiar with the “through lines” that intersect in the modern prison—race, class, policy—as well as the various philosophical concepts that surround the issue—justice, harm, crime, revenge, and forgiveness. We look transnationally to understand “the prison” as a global phenomenon: how does deportation and detention of migrants, or camps for refugees, fit into the age of mass incarceration? How are carceral practices influenced by the Geneva Conventions or exceptional spaces such as GITMO? Students will consider alternatives to the prison as punishment, from reform and rehabilitation to abolition altogether. The course will consider the work of Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, Loïc Wacquant, Marie Gottschalk, George Jackson, Michel Foucault, and Lisa Guenther, amongst others.  (4 credits) CRN 7473


Theater of Social Action: Mass Incarceration
Cecilia Rubino, Eugene Lang Liberal Arts College- Theater & Liza Jessie Peterson, Rasu Jilani MAPP & Brian Lewis, Lang College

View in course catalog.

This course explores issues of mass incarceration in the United States through the lens of socially engaged theater and the work of artist/activist Sekou Sundiata. Topics of research include the policies that create “carceral communities,” the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the policing and unfair sentencing of minorities, the economics of the prison system, the structural violence of racism and the cycle of poverty, and the effects of mass incarceration especially on families. Through interviews, critical readings, court visits, and discussions with activists and educators working to support people in prisons (including Brian Lewis of the Exalt Program, MAPP International’s community director Rasu Jilani, and the playwright and performer Liza Jessie Peterson), students will develop creative work that seeks to re-imagine educational and legal policies that are increasingly punitive and not rehabilitative. Sundiata’s idea of “making as a way of thinking” informs this work as students creatively envision the possibilities of a post-mass incarceration America. This course fulfills the civic engagement/social justice requirement for Theater majors.


U.S. Prisons: Philosophy, Politics, & Policy
Jeffrey Smith, Urban Policy, Milano School of International Affairs & Eric Anthamatten, Global Studies

View in course catalog.

This course will begin by exploring the philosophy of punishment in an historical and international context. It will then move into modern times to examine current penal policy, and will analyze the underlying cultural, political/policy, and demographic causes explaining the growth of the modern American carceral state. The course will conclude by evaluating a wide variety of policy alternatives to address American mass incarceration, separately looking at sentencing, prison life, and re-entry.