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Saturday, June 10 • 2:30pm - 3:15pm
Critical Pedagogy and Social Justice

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Our proposal for an engaged workshop on critical pedagogy and social justice attends to the possibility of a radical, euphoric transformation of higher education, a transformation that empowers the humanity and agency of students as co-creators of knowledge and as designers of future worlds.

We trust students’ expertise, cultures, and knowledge(s). Even though they add tremendous value to learning in the classroom and to the academy, students are often dismissed or sidelined. Our project is to call out hidden curricula, and even our own thoughts and approaches to teaching and grading, that reproduce all kinds of inequalities (not just race and gender, but also class, learning abilities, and language). To ground our learning and teaching in equality, we will consider how to work through biased thoughts that may feel neutral.

We believe that what bell hooks has called “deep and meaningful learning” is optimized by learning together, co-creating a learning collective, collaborating to make the learning ours and to see what we can create together. The pedagogical methods we will use in this workshop draw from our work as collaborators in CUNY’s Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH) initiatives. During the past academic year, full- and part-time faculty representing nearly every one of CUNY’s twenty-five campuses, from every borough of New York City, 49 TLH Faculty Fellows collaborated with more than 1,400 students to develop even more innovative and empowered teaching methods. In fact, TLH Faculty Fellows, their students, and invited participants completed twelve interactive public knowledge projects–both virtual and in-person, on topics such as “Adventures in Ungrading,” “Creating Communities of Care in Our Classrooms,” “Imperialism, Education, and Resistance,” and “Bravery in the Classroom,” that served more than 1,700 people at CUNY, in New York City, and as far away as Sweden.

Our pedagogical methods are inspired from all the expertise in a room: we practice multisensory, multiregister engagement with the world to foster students’ sense of belonging in the university and in the universe. Our goal is to revolutionize teaching and learning to inspire students to become leaders of change and transformation.
The classroom is a radical place. We have learned this from the radical poets and writers who practiced radical equity and love in their CUNY classrooms, and who inspire our work now (bell hooks, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Cade Bambara, for instance).

Recent studies of why students drop out of college list material factors as the main reason, followed closely by students not understanding why they are there. Given the material hardships that are even more urgent to populations hit hardest by the pandemic, many students question why college makes a difference in their lives. Our workshop invites participants to rethink what and how we teach, in order to ensure that, in fact, it is important for students to be in college—for all the factors that influence their future lives.

Our workshop explores the question: why does college make a difference in the lives of mostly working-class, BIPOC, often first-generation students? That student is the “average” student in US colleges and universities today; their profile is more often the rule rather than the exception.

We will offer tools and conversation about the creation of public knowledge projects that bridge academic learning with real life. We teach on site and virtually, and at six radically different institutions—LaGuardia Community College, Baruch College, City Tech, Hunter College, College of Staten Island, and the Graduate Center–all part of the vast system that educates almost 500,000 students in NYC. We represent all ranks of the professoriate, including contingent faculty. We hope this is an opportunity to build upon our activist predecessors and generate a national movement for higher education’s transformation.

avatar for Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy N. Davidson

Senior Advisor on Transformation to the Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of English, Digital Humanities, and Data, CUNY Graduate Center
Cathy N. Davidson is HASTAC's CoFounder and Co-Director (ca. 2002-present). The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC.org, known as “Haystack”), has been called, by NSF, the “world’s first and oldest academic social network."  Davidson... Read More →
avatar for Christina Katopodis

Christina Katopodis

PhD Candidate in English, City University of New York (CUNY)
Christina Katopodis is a doctoral candidate in English at the Graduate Center, CUNY, a Futures Initiative Fellow, New Media Lab Researcher, HASTAC Scholar, and an adjunct at Hunter College. Katopodis’s dissertation explores the influences of music, nonhuman sounds, and sonic vibrations... Read More →

Matt Brim

College of Staten Island, City University of New York (CUNY), United States of America

Javiela Evangelista

Pedagogy Co-Leader, City University of New York (CUNY)

Shelly Eversley

Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Grace Handy

City University of New York (CUNY)

Jason Hendrickson

LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Jessica Murray

City University of New York (CUNY)

Saturday June 10, 2023 2:30pm - 3:15pm EDT
PS 401 (Design Center)