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Announcing Focused Inquiry Groups for 2019-2020

The Teaching and Learning Center is pleased to announce four Focused Inquiry Groups (FIGs) for the 2019-2020 academic year. These projects bring together small groups of Graduate Center students who will think and work with TLC staff on a specific set of questions and strategies related to student-centered, responsive, inclusive, and reflective practices in the undergraduate classroom. The overarching theme for this year’s set of FIGs is “Difficult Knowledge,” and each group will explore how to help undergraduate students develop the strategies, skills, and ways of knowing that can help us productively navigate difficulty.

Applications for all FIGs are due on October 16, and selected students will receive a $500 stipend for participating in the discussions and sharing public reflections about their work at the end of the academic year.

Reading as Making 

In this Focused Inquiry Group (FIG) we will explore how we might teach texts in ways that de-center comprehension or “getting it” in order to pay greater attention to what else happens when we read. Most pedagogies focus on comprehension and analytical methods such as close reading. While valuable, we often overlook how our students might experience texts, especially difficult ones, in a range of ways (Niccolini, 2016). This group will surface and investigate creative approaches to teaching difficult texts, such as making art with and in relation to encounters with texts (Hickey-Moody & Page, 2015), reading practices that account for affect (Sedgwick, 2003), and attunement to the materiality of reading (Snaza, 2018). 

We will discuss how alternative methods can decenter dominant approaches and create space for multiple ways of reading and experiencing texts. While many texts produce shifts in thinking and being, this group will focus on texts that are emotionally difficult because they challenge our students’ attachments (Berlant, 2011) to particular narratives about the world. The group will work together to imagine experimental approaches to teaching difficult texts that engage multiple ways of being and knowing. 

Following our discussions, we will collectively craft a list of texts to teach with in the spring using one of the approaches that we have developed. Participants will open their classroom to visitors from our group at least once, and also have to option to visit another participant’s class. We will conclude our year-long work together by hosting a panel discussion. Group members will model some of the pedagogical approaches we developed and present on their experiences of teaching with these texts and models. 

Requirements:

Participants will commit to a maximum of three meetings in the Fall 2019 and two meetings in Spring 2020. In Spring 2020, participants will be asked to open their classroom to group members at least once and have the option to visit another participant’s class when using the approaches we have developed. Finally, participants will be asked to attend and present at a final showcase of the group’s collaborative work. 

Application process: 

Applicants should be open and curious about reading and applying experimental theories about pedagogy. Interested applicants should submit a 500-word response that details their interest in the topic and how collaborating with others in the group would contribute to their teaching and scholarship. Responses should include information about the course(s) applicants will be teaching in Spring 2020 (i.e. course title, department, campus). These applications should be sent to tlc@gc.cuny.edu with the subject line “Reading FIG Application.”

Applications are due by 10am October 16. Selected participants will receive stipends of $500. 

Eligibility:

All currently enrolled Graduate Center students who will be teaching a course in Spring 2020 are eligible to participate in this program.

Climate Across the Curriculum

This year-long Focused Inquiry Group (FIG) will study ways to teach climate change across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. We will learn from each other, so participants must be interested in interdisciplinary collaboration and have the flexibility in a spring course to introduce material on climate change in at least one class meeting. We will discuss the range of affects surrounding climate change (despair, apathy, anger, hope, etc.) with particular attention to racial, economic and geographic inequality. We will develop and share strategies for helping students do this work. Central questions for the group will include how we frame this topic for students and how to allow for and address a range of student responses to the subject. 

Requirements: 

Participants will be asked to share one reading and lesson plan or assignment on climate change to workshop with the group in the fall that they will then implement in their spring course. They will open their classroom to visits from the group members at least once in the spring, and ask their students to complete a brief survey on their experience learning about climate change. The group will meet 2-3 times per semester. In the fall, we will select readings and workshop materials in preparation for the spring. In the spring semester, we will meet to discuss how our classes on the topic are going. We will conclude our year-long work together by participating in a panel discussion modeling some of the pedagogical approaches we have developed. 

Application process: 

Applicants should be knowledgeable on the topic of climate change, but also interested in learning from interdisciplinary collaboration and open to trying new approaches to teaching in the classroom. Interested applicants should submit a CV and a 500-word response that details their interest in the topic and how collaborating with others in the group would contribute to their teaching and scholarship. Responses should include information about the course(s) applicants will be teaching in Spring 2020 (i.e. course title, department, campus). These applications should be sent to tlc@gc.cuny.edu with the subject line “Climate FIG Application.”

Applications are due by 10am October 16. Selected participants will receive stipends of $500. 

Eligibility: 

All currently enrolled Graduate Center students who will be teaching a course in Spring 2020 are eligible to participate in this program.

Documenting Communities

This year-long Focused Inquiry Group (FIG) supports the development of culminating assignments in undergraduate courses that invite students’ engagement with their communities. Culturally-responsive projects create connections between the disciplines and students’ experiences outside the classroom. The process of documenting the city, its neighborhoods, and the lives of its inhabitants can help students build a new perspective on familiar spaces, invigorating their scholarly reflections. 

This project will cultivate assignments where students create artifacts that presume an audience outside the classroom, fostering engagement with broader publics. Handbooks, podcasts, zines, short documentaries, and websites are possible projects that position the student as a producer of knowledge, while integrating the exploration of disciplinary content with other skills. Scaffolded multi-media projects create varied opportunities for self-reflection and feedback. 

The Teaching and Learning Center invites Graduate Center students to apply to be part of a group that will come together to design project-based culminating assignments that will be integrated in courses taught in Spring 2020, and to reflect upon the experience. 

Requirements:

Students will be expected to attend no more than three meetings before the Spring semester to develop assignments, and will be asked to share reflections on the process with the Graduate Center community at a showcase in May. 

Application process: 

Interested applicants should submit a cv and a 500-word statement detailing what they will be teaching in Spring 2020, and preliminary ideas for a culminating project that invites undergraduate students to explore and document their communities. These applications should be sent to tlc@gc.cuny.edu with the subject line “Documenting FIG Application.”

Applications are due by 10am October 16. Selected participants will receive stipends of $500. 

Eligibility:

All currently enrolled Graduate Center students who will be teaching a course in Spring 2020 are eligible to participate in this program.

Developing a Socially Conscious Pedagogy FIG 2019-2020: Collaging to Reflect

The 2019-2020 Developing A Socially Conscious Pedagogy Focused Inquiry Group will convene a group of doctoral student educators interested in disrupting racism, sexism, ableism and other oppressive and marginalizing social forces through their teaching. This year’s FIG will mobilize collage to reflect on positionality and explore how knowledge is (re)produced in the socially conscious classroom. 

The socially conscious pedagogy series began in 2017 with a workshop and panel on addressing race and racism in the classroom. The series was ignited by interest and passion for developing teaching practices that are responsive to a range of oppressive and marginalizing forces in society. The series has included programming that explores the ways educators enact socially conscious practices and highlights the experiences of doctoral students of color teaching in the CUNY classroom. Using arts-based methods we have also explored educator positionality, convened a panel on destabilizing disciplinary canons, and co-constructed a teaching zine across the disciplines.  

Though this is a closed FIG, building upon a group’s work from the spring, we invite other educators interested in learning more about the FIG’s work and using this art-based method to join us for a “Collaging to Reflect” workshop on November 19th. Registration for that event is at http://cuny.is/tlc-registration