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“Mapping the Futures of Higher Education” Profs Cathy Davidson and William Kelly S 2015

Mapping the Futures of Higher Education

This is the first course offered by the new Futures Initiative, team-taught by Director Cathy N. Davidson and former Graduate Center President William Kelly. The course is designed for second, third, or fourth year graduate students who are teaching during S 2015 at one of CUNY’s colleges or community colleges.

Professors Cathy N. Davidson and William Kelly

IDS 70200

Spring 2015, Tuesday 4:15-6:15 PM

4 credits or 3 credits (requirements variable, depending on the credit hours required by the crosslisting department)

Crosslistings [actual course numbers coming soon]: ART 80010. Seminar: Selected Topics in Art History.   3 credits;  Comparative Literature _____;

Critical Social/Personality Psychology ________; Earth and Environmental Sciences & Environmental Psychology Programs __________; English ____;

Urban Education _____;

Enrollment by Permission of the Instructors

Department(s) IDS 70200; crosslisted as Art History 80010; Comparative Literature _____; Critical Social/Personality Psychology ________; Earth and Environmental Sciences _______; English _____; Urban Education _______
Course Title Mapping the Futures of Higher Education
Catalogue Description The course is designed for second, third, or fourth year graduate students who are teaching at one of CUNY’s colleges or community colleges. It introduces the research-based methods of collaborative, team-based “peer learning” or “connected learning,” a pedagogical method that is effective for retention (both of knowledge and interest, with improved completion rates). It emphasizes creativity, critical thinking, and innovation, whether for students in doctoral courses at a prestige graduate center or undergraduates with poor college preparation who are struggling to stay in school, and for students across STEM fields, the arts, humanities, or social sciences. The course also focuses on analysis of the system of higher education designed for the Industrial Age and why and how it needs changing for the post-Internet era.
Pre/ Co Requisites Students must be teaching during Spring 2015 and have permission or flexibility within their teaching institution to include their students as participants in the innovative pedagogies explored in the graduate course.
Credits Separate syllabi and requirements will allow this course to be taken as a 3 or a 4 credit course, as required per the credit structure of the cross-listing department.
Course Description and RationaleThis is the first course offered by the new Futures Initiative, team-taught by Director Cathy N. Davidson and former Graduate Center President William Kelly. The course is designed for second, third, or fourth year graduate students who are teaching during S 2015 at one of CUNY’s colleges or community colleges. Like the larger Futures Initiative, this course looks in two directions at once. First, it examines and then puts into practice a range of new peer-driven innovative pedagogies, across disciplines that will serve graduate students who are committed to exploring a range of new teaching skills and objectives.   The assumption here is that most of the methods, assessment tools, and the general apparatus of higher education were developed in the Industrial Age (roughly 1865-1925) and it is imperative that we design new cross-disciplinary methods and structures to rethink education for the new arrangements and informal learning styles of the Internet Age.Second, “Mapping the Futures of Higher Education” focuses on the role and requirements of public education in the U.S. in a stressed time where, nationally, we have seen several decades of defunding public education, leading simultaneously both to a student debt crisis and a professorial crisis of adjunct or contingent labor practices. In most places, higher education now perpetuates rather than mitigates income inequality. However, in New York City, the city with the nation’s greatest income inequality, a quarter of a million students in the CUNY system still have the opportunity, through a combination of city, state, and national loans, to graduate tuition-debt free. How different is NY from other cities? What are the costs of public education? Who bears them? What are the collective investments society makes in public education and what are the rewards? This course will be developing a public, online “CUNY Map of New York” to represent the goals and the collective contribution of public higher education in a democracy—with the aim of increasing public support for higher education.

In this course, collaborative online tools, including a number of public ones, will be collaboratively designed to include the students taught at the CUNY colleges in a semester-long inquiry and practicum into better ways of thinking, knowing, creating, and transforming institutional structures, both across fields and within them. We’ll focus on public engagement and presentation of work; visual, digital, and data literacies across fields; quantitative, qualitative, and performative thinking; translation of specialized doctoral research for a generalist audience (of peers, students, and the public); new forms of qualitative and quantitative assessment across all fields and levels; and analysis of the importance of access, diversity, quality, and equality for higher education and the collective good in a democratic society. All of this will be driven by a student-designed syllabus that embodies the course’s core peer-learning collaborative methods.

At the end of the course, students from the graduate course and their own students in the CUNY colleges will contribute to a public presentation of their work that showcases a range of disciplinary research and expertise in the CUNY Map of New York that will include data analysis and visualization, artistic representation, digital interactivity, storytelling, models and case studies, and other disciplinary and cross-disciplinary contributions.

Note: This course overlaps with no other course in the crosslisting departments and no course will be dropped to accommodate this offering.

Learning Goals/Outcomes: Graduate students will leave this course with deep understanding of the research and practical application of the pedagogies in the areas of peer learning; digital, data, and visual literacies; public-facing pedagogies; data analysis, interpretation, and representation; collaborative learning, research, and teaching methods; complex project management; new assessment methods; experience developing collaborative online tools; and knowledge of new research in the areas of digital humanities, science, social sciences, and the arts.


Assessment: Students will be assessed according to their contribution to the ongoing and final public and in-class projects of the course and will also engage in a range of research-based peer-feedback and peer-assessment and self-assessment exercises designed to contribute to a final ePorftolio of finished work judged for quality by the professors.


Credit Hours: Each student will complete a “scope of work” contract (based on research on contract grading that goes back to the 1970s) so that those in departments requiring 3 credit courses can contract for an alternative (lesser) workload than those taking the course for 4 credits.


Admission by Permission of the Instructor: Only 12-15 students maximum will be admitted in this first course offering. The goal is to have as diverse a cohort as possible, with students coming from as many crosslisting departments as possible and also teaching at the widest possible range of CUNY colleges or community colleges during the Spring 2015 semester. To that end, students interested in taking the course will need to complete a simple survey with this information.


Students seeking admission should contact Ms. Lauren Melendez (, Administrative Specialist for the Futures Initiative, in order to receive a form for applying for permission to take the course, and should return this form by ______________.


Students will be notified that they have been admitted to the course by _________.


Students not admitted to the course will be invited to take part in a non-credit series of peer workshops offered by the course participants


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