UDIG: User Design Information Group

Come Join us on February 28th to hear from our EP faculty member Leigh Graham and three of our EP students (Evie Klein, Eleanor Luken, and Troy Simpson) as they share their work with UDIG (User Design Information Group)!

Our Brown Bag Events are free and open to the public!

Learn more about UDIG by visiting their website!

#TheyGunnedMeDown: Narrating Race-Radical Classrooms in the Movements for Black Lives By Dr. Carmen Kynard

Brown Bag Event February 21st 2018:

#TheyGunnedMeDown: Narrating Race-Radical Classrooms in the Movements for Black Lives

Dr. Carmen Kynard


The Full Slideshow can be found at: bit.ly/kynard-gc

Dr. Kynard is an associate professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (CUNY). She has a particular commitment to those places and programs that enroll large numbers of first-generation, working class students of color. Kynard has worked as the director of a first year writing program and as an English professor at St. John’s University, in the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers-Newark University, and in the Department of English at Medgar Evers College. She is a former high school teacher with the New York City public schools/Coalition of Essential Schools and has led numerous projects focusing on issues of language, literacy, and learning: consultant for the Community Learning Centers Grant Project in Harlem, educational consultant and curriculum developer for the African Diaspora Institute/Caribbean Cultural Center of New York, instructional coordinator for the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, seminar leader for the New York City Writing Project, and seminar leader for Looking Both Ways.

Dr. Kynard has published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly, and many more. Her book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies won the 2015 James Britton Award and makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement.

Her work today sits at the crossroads of composition-rhetoric studies, new literacies studies, and urban education. Dr. Kynard is most interested in interrogating race and the politics of writing instruction in secondary and post-secondary settings and institutions, looking closely at the ways racialized political economies get expressed as literacy praxis. She strives to bring research, teaching, and service as a commitment to educational change where the humanities, writing studies, and critical pedagogy can work in conjunction. Her current research is on Black female college students’ literacies and learning as critical sites of recursive memory.

Email contact: ckynard@jjay.cuny.edu

Website: http://carmenkynard.org/

The City University of New York, including the Graduate Center, has more work to do, specifically in regards to de-centralizing whiteness on its faculty and in its curricula, supporting students, faculty, and staff of color, incorporating writing and research on black issues by black folk into our curricula and research, and by fighting the continued violences enacted on black folk through the field of psychology.

Welcome back, Deirdre Conlon!

Deirdre Conlon, a graduate of the program, recently returned to share her new research with the department and to speak with current students about her experiences. A description of her talk is found below:

GC CUNY Critical Psychology Brown Bag Colloquium, Oct. 18th 2017


Reflections on Carceral Circuits and Spaces

Deirdre Conlon, Ph.D.

University of Leeds, School of Geography

Alumnus Environmental Psychology Program, Graduate Center, CUNY


This presentation outlines the trajectory and key themes of my research since completing my Ph.D. in the Environmental Psychology program. It then turns to a new project on ‘carceral space, private sector contracts, and questions related to legitimacy.’ I trace three empirical projects (my dissertation, which examined everyday productions of nationhood (and exclusion) among refugee/migrant women in post-birthright citizenship referendum Ireland; a UK/U.S. comparison of challenges and mitigating strategies developed by migrant support and activist groups facing increasing social and political hostility and fiscal austerity toward migrants (with Nick Gill, Exeter); and an ongoing project (with Nancy Hiemstra, Stony Brook University) that extends critical research on the privatization of immigrant detention by examining the internal micro-economies and dynamics that sustain and expand detention as a key facet of immigration enforcement in the U.S. today. I call attention to key and recurring themes in this work that continues to be inspired by classes, conversations, and exchanges during my graduate studies at the Graduate Center: attention to fine grained details and the everyday effects of immigration policies, and from this careful cataloguing of the myriad harms and forms that dispossessions take in these spaces (following Fine and Ruglis, 2009); a meta-critique of institutions, in this case immigration detention / prisons and the mundane enforcement practices and protocols that are normalized in their name; and, in terms of research practice, the significance of collaborative spaces/process in my work, an ethos and orientation to scholarship and research that the Graduate Center’s Environmental Psychology program fosters and supports. The presentation ends with a number of preliminary observations related to the aforementioned new project. These include: exceedingly careful attention to the production of a ‘continuous carceral space’ when prisoners/immigrants are transferred and where public and private actors overlap in providing (contracted) custodial ‘services’; questions about who is the audience for claims related to legitimacy; and prisoners’ and immigrants’ experiences of these flexible and fluid spaces of confinement. The presentation ends with a series of questions for discussion, in keeping with the ethos of the Critical Psychology Brown Bag colloquium.



Fine, M. and Ruglis, J. 2009. Circuits and consequences of dispossession: the racialized realignment of the public sphere for U.S. youth. Transforming Anthropology 17(1), pp. 20-33.



Spring 2018 Brown Bag Schedule

Please join us for a Brown Bag event this Spring 2018! We have a variety of fantastic speakers coming to share their research with us. Our Brown Bag events are free and open to the public. Please see the schedule below!

Social scientists & architects collaborate to link equity and learning to educational spaces

Sara Grant (left) and Evie Klein (middle) are presented with the Citation for Design Excellence by Jennifer Sage, the AIANY Vice President for Design Excellence.

On December 5th, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) conferred a Vice President’s Citation for Design Excellence on a collaborative research project between architects and social scientists currently underway at Medgar Evers College, CUNY.

The study is led by Evie Klein, Eleanor Luken, and Troy Simpson, who are current Environmental Psychology doctoral students and co-founders of the User Design Information Group (UDIG) at the Center for Human Environments (CHE) at the Graduate Center. The architects collaborating on the project are Sara Grant (partner at Murphy, Burnham & Buttrick) and Marta Sanders (partner at Architecture Outfit).

The Medgar Evers College Collaborative Research Project focuses on higher education spaces outside the classroom and on data collected via field research. The project is exploring how the design of campus spaces can support student-faculty relationships and student retention; ways of using social science methods to better understand the values and culture of higher education environments; and how such spaces contribute to advancing common goals of the campus community.

To link physical spaces and social transformation, the research team is taking several steps, including engaging students as researchers, undertaking ethnographic fieldwork, and making impact evaluations of the physical and procedural changes to the space associated with the study.

The AIANY citation was awarded to two committees of the AIANY who play key roles in the research project: the Social Science + Architecture Committee (SS+A), which Klein founded in 2016 with Melissa Marsh, and the Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE). The aim of the collaboration is to demonstrate that a design based on rigorous social science research methods can have a measurable impact on the social goals of an educational institution.

This project aligns with UDIG’s goal of connecting environmental psychology scholars with architects, planners, and communities to develop research that informs and promotes equitable design initiatives. On the Medgar Evers project, Klein, Luken, and Simpson are providing expertise in social science methodologies of data collection and analysis in coordination with the traditionally rigorous architectural methods of observation and problem solving through design.

The research team also includes two current Medgar Evers undergraduate students with support from campus faculty and senior administration staff.

Fall 2017 Brown Bag Schedule


Spring 2017 Brown Bag Schedule


Program Alumnus Roberta Feldman Receives Leadership Award

Roberta MoMA croppedThe Environmental Psychology program would like to congratulate alumnus Roberta M. Feldman, Ph.D. on her reception of Architectural Record’s Women in Architecture Design Leadership Award. Roberta was selected for the 2016 honor as an Activist, given to an architect who has used her skills to design for social change and effect the public realm. The award will be presented on November 2, 2016 in New York City.
Congrats, Roberta!

Fall 2016: Brown Bag Schedule

CUNY_Brown Bag (1)

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Young children’s play in urban areas


sruthi 1Sruthi Atmakur-Javdekar’s background in architecture and landscape architecture enables her to focus on improving the quality of built environments, particularly for children and young people. Through her work, Sruthi aims to influence local and national policies related to children’s rights, urban planning and design. Sruthi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Psychology program where her dissertation research focuses on evaluating play opportunities available for young children from middle-class families living in urban high-rise buildings in fast-growing cities of urban India.

sruthi 2
While working on her dissertation research in Pune city, India, Sruthi continues to engage in research and scholarship with colleagues at The Graduate Center in the capacity of a research associate with the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) at the Center for Human Environments.

Sruthi is currently co-directing and directing projects related to the CERG-Plan’s Score Cards project and Child Friendly Places approach in communities across the world. Having worked closely with Dr. Pamela Wridt and sruthi 3Dr. Roger Hart in the development of the Child Friendly Places (CFP) approach, Sruthi currently coordinates work related to the same. Research related to the CFP approach implemented in Mumbai and Bhavnagar cities of India in 2013 – 2014 was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal. You can access the article ‘Spatializing Children’s Rights: A Comparison of Two Case Studies from Urban India’

Furthermore, Sruthi and her CERG colleague, Bijan Kimiagar currently co-direct the Score Cardssruthi 4 methodology with Plan International, which is an adaptation of the Child Friendly Places approach. During December 2015, in association with Plan International, Sruthi and her CERG colleagues, Bijan Kimiagar and Aysenur Ataman travelled to Benin, West Africa to conduct training workshops for adolescent girls and boys, and adults including Plan staff from Benin, Togo, Rwanda and Burkina Faso in the Score Cards approach.

Also, more recently, in March 2016, Sruthi conducted an evaluation study in New Delhi, India, to help assess the feasibility of using digital technologies to implement the Score Cards approach, which is an adaptation of CERG’s Child Friendly Places methodology. The outcomes from this study are underway including findings to develop a final proposal to digitize the Score Cards approach, in addition to recommendations for digitalizing the Child Friendly Places approach.

If you are interested in learning more about Sruthi’s work or any of the CERG projects mentioned above, please feel free to reach out at sruthiatmakur@gmail.com. You can also access Sruthi’s CV here. Further, follow Sruthi on Twitter and Linkedin.


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