Please see below for an overview of the 2018 MLA session co-hosted by the CUNY Humanities Alliance. Feel free to contact Elizabeth Alsop (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, and hope to see some of you there!
MLA Session 453: Advancing the Field: Connecting Humanities Graduate Education and Community College Teaching
Saturday, January 6th, 8:30-11:30am (Hilton, Concourse A)
Link to this document: bit.ly/advancing-the-field
Community colleges and doctoral programs are increasingly developing new ways to work together to strengthen and amplify their missions and to support a vision of equity and diversity in higher education. In this session, faculty, administrators, and students will lead a participatory discussion about the opportunities, challenges, and rewards of connecting graduate education and pedagogical training with community college teaching.
Historically, higher education has been sharply stratified. While graduate students often teach at some point in their program, they almost always teach at the institution where they are pursuing their own degrees—which is to say, an R1 or equivalent university. Rarely do graduate programs offer a structured opportunity to teach in other settings, such as small liberal arts colleges, regional colleges, or community colleges. And yet, many of the full-time faculty positions available in humanities disciplines are located in precisely those types of teaching-intensive institutions. Indeed, more than half of US undergraduate students are enrolled in community colleges alone.
The “new majority” of college students are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before, predominantly low-income, often the first in their families to attend college—and most are attending community colleges. How does this new demographic landscape affect what doctoral study and pedagogical training in the humanities can and should look like?
Happily, new structures are beginning to emerge to remedy this disconnect. In this workshop, representatives from a range of institutions—including the University of California at San Diego, CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Washington, South Seattle College, and Idaho State University—will speak about the programs they’ve developed to build sustained, reciprocal relationships between doctoral institutions and local community colleges. (See detailed program descriptions below.) Students, faculty, and staff from these programs will share strategies they’ve found effective in facilitating such partnerships, and identify some of the challenges they’ve encountered in implementing their programs on the ground.
Following these initial presentations, participants will be invited to break into small groups more in-depth discussions and hands-on activities. (See descriptions of proposed break-out sessions below.)
The goal of this workshop, then, is not only to increase the visibility of these discrete initiatives, but to create a space to generate and disseminate ideas and practices that could be used by both by faculty and administrators looking to build similar connections between graduate education and community college teaching at their own institutions, and by doctoral students interested in careers at two-year colleges or other teaching-intensive institutions. Some of the topics we hope to address include:
- how to bring graduate research into the undergraduate classroom;
- understanding the diversity of college students’ experiences and perspectives;
- teaching the humanities in the context of community colleges;
- administrative and logistical hurdles for establishing cross-institutional partnerships;
- research and growth opportunities for community college faculty involved;
- the value of mentorship in pedagogical development;
- benefits for community college students working with graduate student instructors;
- examining status anxiety and challenging myths of “prestige;”
- preparing doctoral faculty advisors to support students seeking community college; careers; and
- diversifying thinking around career trajectories for doctoral students in the humanities
Our hope is that following this workshop, participants will have a strong understanding of the value and importance of connecting graduate education and community college teaching in a deep and systematic way, and that those who are in a position to advocate for or develop such programs gain concrete ideas and lessons learned. We anticipate sharing materials online in advance of the workshop, including a revised version of this description, information about each program’s structure, thematic questions for discussion, and more.
CUNY Humanities Alliance, LaGuardia Community College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. Launched in Fall 2016 with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Humanities Alliance is dedicated to preparing Ph.D. students to teach humanities courses in some of the country’s most diverse undergraduate classrooms. It establishes a partnership between the Graduate Center and LaGuardia Community College, with the aim of broadening and strengthening access to the humanities for the LaGuardia students, at the same time that it provides the participating doctoral student fellows with mentorship and experience in community college teaching.
Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, University of Washington.
This program, launched in July 2015 with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, establishes a partnership between the University of Washington and three key educational institutions in Seattle: North Seattle College, South Seattle College, and Seattle Central College. Six UW doctoral students in the humanities are paired with faculty mentors in their disciplines from these community colleges. The six Fellows for Reaching New Publics shadow their faculty mentors, going to class, attending department meetings, sitting in on advising sessions, and occasionally co-teaching their courses.
Ph.D. in English and the Teaching of English, Idaho State University (Pocatello, ID). This program integrates research in English with practical and theoretical training in the teaching of literature and composition in order to prepare students for teaching careers at two- and small four-year schools. This training includes coursework in literature and pedagogy, required internships in independent and collaborative teaching, qualifying exams in both the dissertation area and an area in the teaching of English, and a dissertation featuring a chapter that applies the dissertation research to significant principles of course design or classroom practice.
Activating the Humanities in the 21st Century: A Collaborative Path for Transfer Students from Community College to Research University and Beyond, UC San Diego and the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD).
Funded by the Mellon foundation, this program aims to identify potential transfer students in the humanities, provide supportive services during their transition and ensure that they graduate with appropriate and essential skills to successfully enter the workforce and enjoy a stimulating career. An equally important goal is to present the humanities as a relevant and valued course of study with measurable benefits to students, their families, and society in general. With additional funds from UC San Diego, we are also implementing an additional program component that will train graduate students to teach at the community colleges.
BREAK-OUT SESSION SUMMARIES
A. Program Administration: Creating and Sustaining Cross-Institutional Partnerships (Elizabeth Alsop, Rachel Arteaga, and Katina Rogers)
In this session, we’ll address opportunities and challenges inherent in creating and sustaining cross-institutional partnerships between graduate programs in research universities and community colleges, with an eye to identifying best practices. Participants will have the chance to brainstorm and develop ideas for establishing such programs at their own schools, and to identify potential collaborators and funding sources.
B. Faculty-Student Collaborations: Developing Mentorship Programs (Asha Tran and Angela Durán Real)
The idea of a mentorship program that encourages collaboration between PhD candidates and community college faculty might seem unexpected, and perhaps difficult to visualize, but the potential benefits can be a powerful catalyst for exciting work. This breakout session explores participant assumptions about the roles of “graduate student” and “community college faculty,” then counters those preconceived notions by shifting the discussion to consider the specific and perhaps unexpected strengths, experiences, and insight each person might bring to a cross-institutional collaboration.
C. Inspiring Networks: Designing Digital Commons to Support Humanities Partnerships (Cristina Della Coletta and Erin Glass)
In this session, facilitators will conduct a speculative design exercise in which participants brainstorm new functionalities for academic digital commons that would better support humanities partnerships. The session will begin with a brief overview of some of the opportunities this area, taking as a key example the digital commons component of the UCSD program, which uses the open source software package Commons in a Box (CBOX). Because CBOX is open source, it offers the exciting possibility of continual development to meet the needs and interests of an academic community while providing students with a leadership role in the endeavor. [This session may be framed more broadly on the topic of digital pedagogy within the community college and invite participants to exchange ideas and practices on a range of issues, from practical questions about digital access for community college students, to pedagogical discussions around DH methods and curricula, to administrative strategies for implementing new digital platforms like CBOX, to the affordances and challenges of particular tools for different contexts and student populations.]
D. Graduate Student Training: Preparing PhDs for Community College Careers (Matthew Levay and Jacqueline Jones)
In the PhD program in English and the Teaching of English at Idaho State University, pedagogical training is integrated into every aspect of the degree: not only in required pedagogy courses, but also in teaching internships and externships, the PhD qualifying exams, and the dissertation. This prepares PhDs for the kinds of teaching-centric, often generalist positions they would find at a community college. However, this kind of sustained training is often missing from many doctoral programs This breakout session will provide an opportunity for participants to do hands-on work in how to develop similar curricula within humanities graduate programs, and for graduate students to seek advice about preparing for a community college career. Participants will exchange ideas for making the PhD more responsive to community college teaching.
Elizabeth Alsop is Assistant Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the CUNY Graduate Center and the Mellon Humanities Scholar with the CUNY Humanities Alliance. In her role on the grant, she oversees professional development for the graduate teaching fellows at LaGuardia Community College, and designs and implements programs designed to extend the lessons of the Humanities Alliance to the broader Graduate Center and CUNY communities. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature, and previously served as an Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies at Western Kentucky University.
Katina Rogers is Director of Administration and Programs at the Futures Initiative, a program at CUNY Graduate Center dedicated to advancing equity and innovation in higher education. Her work focuses on many aspects of higher education reform, including scholarly communication practices, professionalization and career development, public scholarship, and advocacy for fair labor policies. She is the editor of #Alt-Academy, a digital publication dedicated to exploring the career paths of humanities scholars in and around the academy, and holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Rogers has contributed to the Humanities Alliance since the program’s earliest stages, and helps connect the Humanities Alliance and the Futures Initiative through the development of joint programming focusing on equity, innovation, and the reinvestment in higher education as a public good.
Jacqueline Jones is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, and currently serving as a faculty mentor in the CUNY Humanities Alliance program. She earned her PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in African American Studies in 2010. Her research interests include 20th and 21st-century African American literature and media studies, Black Women’s Literature, and Literature of the Civil Rights Era. Publications include “It Still Matters: The Cosby Show and Sociopolitical Representation on Television (The 25 Sitcoms that Change Television, ABC-CLIO 2018), and “We ‘the People:’ Freedom, Civics, and the Neo-Slave Narrative Tradition in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean” (Modern Language Studies, Summer 2016).
Ambar Castillo is a student at LaGuardia Community College majoring in Theater, and a member of the LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholar program.
Telijah Patterson is student at LaGuardia Community College majoring in International Studies, and a member of the LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholar program.
Rachel Arteaga is Assistant Director of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington and Assistant Program Director for Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics, a four-year program at the Simpson Center generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She oversees the strategic development, implementation, and evaluation of the program, building networks and partnerships across institutions and supporting collaborations among doctoral students in the humanities and community college faculty in the greater Seattle area.
Angela Durán Real is a PhD Candidate in Spanish & Portuguese Studies at the University of Washington. She held a Mellon Fellowship for Reaching New Publics in the Humanities at the Simpson Center for the Humanities during the 2015-2016 academic year, during which she shadowed her community college faculty mentor in Spanish classes at South Seattle College. She went on to collaborate with her mentor, Asha Esterberg Tran, on an innovative survey on attitudes toward study abroad among community college students. The project exemplifies her commitment to public scholarship; Durán Real has also served as a Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow through Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, and she currently teaches college-level courses in her field to incarcerated students in the Washington State prison system.
Asha Esterberg Tran is a member of the faculty in Spanish at South Seattle College, and served as a community college faculty mentor in the Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics program at the Simpson Center for the Humanities during the 2015-2016 academic year. In collaboration with the doctoral student who shadowed her work throughout that year, Angela Durán Real, she designed an innovative survey on attitudes toward study-abroad programs among students on the South Seattle campus. The survey findings contribute to a national conversation on why students of color and low-income students are less likely to study abroad, and how programs in both two- and four-year colleges might improve access.
Cristina Della Coletta is dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego and principal investigator of Activating the Humanities in the 21st Century: A Collaborative Path for Transfer Students from Community College to Research University and Beyond. As dean, she holds the Chancellor’s Associates Chair in Italian Literature and is working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled “Fascist Spectacles: The Semiotics of Power and the Languages of Dissent During the Fascist Era in Italy (1922-1943).”
Erin Rose Glass is the digital humanities coordinator and associate director of the Center for the Humanities at UC San Diego. In her role on the grant, she is leading the development of a shared digital commons between UC San Diego and the San Diego Community College District, and designing other related digital pedagogy initiatives.
Matthew Levay is Assistant Professor of English and Graduate Committee Member at Idaho State University. He specializes in twentieth-century British literature, with an emphasis in British modernism.