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Course Descriptions

Course Offerings Spring 2021

Queer Psychology (Kevin Nadal)

80103 – 3 CR
Mondays 9:30 – 11:30 AM EST

This course will provide an overview of the major issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity in the field of psychology. The course will review historical and contemporary contexts of heterosexism and genderism, particularly for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). Using lectures, discussions, self-reflection activities, and other media tools, students will also learn about culturally competent skills in working with these populations.



Statistical Methods in Psychology (Alexis Kuerbis)

70600 – 3 CR
Tuesdays 11 AM – 12:50 PM EST

This is the second statistics course in a two-course sequence. The major content of the course will have to do with a set of statistical models called analysis of variance (ANOVA) and regression. These models are used frequently in all of the social sciences, including social work, education, and psychology. They are also used by public health researchers and others interested in trying to determine if a dependent variable is a function of one or more independent variables. Thus, the course will cover material that those interested in quantitative research should find extremely useful. That said, even though this course is called Advanced Statistics, “advanced” is a relative term; given that the course is only a semester long, we will only have time to go into the “basics” of the advanced techniques we will cover. Depending on time, we will do our best to cover an introduction to some of the more popular, cutting edge techniques used in social science today, such as multilevel modeling, mediation, moderation, structural equation modeling and path analysis. We will be using the statistical software R for this course.


Participatory Democracy and Social Movements (Celina Su)
80103 – 3 CR

Tuesdays 11:45 – 1:45 PM EST

This seminar takes a look at what ordinary citizens/ constituents do to shape public policies and engage in politics— in ways other than voting. We explore the notion that popular participation can make democratic governance more legitimate, fair, and effective. We examine theories and existing evidence on the promises and challenges of participatory democracy— alternatively called bottom-up participation, maximal democracy, or direct democracy. Specifically, we will examine forms and functions of civil society from a comparative perspective by looking at specific examples of participatory institutions and social movements around the world. Sometimes, these three categories blur into one another. We will try to focus on case studies in “Global South” middle-income countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa, though we also include domestic cases as a point of reference. How much should ordinary constituents participate in policymaking, and how? Under what circumstances?


Writing for Publication (Celina Su)
80103 – 3 CR

Tuesdays 2 PM – 4 PM EST

This seminar aims to help students to advance research projects and dissertations for publication, by drawing out data, analysis, and arguments for a journal article submission. Because of time constraints, we cannot also tackle book reviews, turning the dissertation into a book, etc. Because the academic job market has placed increasing pressure on doctoral candidates to publish journal articles foremost, we are strategically focusing on this collective goal. Over the course of the seminar, we will each employ standard forms and protocols for journal article submission, and decide on whether and how we might want to take risks in our articles. We will pay special attention to issues of audience, clarity, and impact (what do we ultimately want folks to take away from our article?) throughout. We’re here because we want to get writing done. We’ll be paying attention to the craft of good writing, to the specific constraints and vagaries of academic writing (especially journal article-writing), and to life conditions (accessing resources, making time, space, and the focusing power to write) along the way. We will work on transforming our research into publishable articles, drafting, editing, and revising our work, and reflecting upon our work through peer review.


Listening Guide: A Method for Narrative Analysis (Deb Tolman)
80103 – 3 CR

Tuesdays 4:15 – 6:15 PM EST

This seminar is the second semester of a full-year course on the Listening Guide, a methodology and method designed for exploring research questions that can be answered through narrative inquiry. This semester will pick up from where the first semester leaves off to deepen understanding and practice of the method, with a focus on psychological logic, voice analysis and composing interpretive cases in a seminar with emphasis on workshopping. In this second half of the course, we will deepen the skills of interviewing, contrapuntal voice development, voice analysis and composing and presenting interpretations.  We will learn how to use the method across cases in order to identify patterns across and within multiple cases, to sketch out “psychological logics” in people’s navigation of complex, contrary and oppressive experiences and worlds. 

ECO 740 Community Economic Development (Gordon-Nembhard)

Tuesdays 6 PM to 8 PM EST
John Jay

The term “community economic development” is used to refer to two different things: scale (economic development at the neighborhood level) and approach or philosophy (local community control over economic development). We will look at both, with special emphasis on marginalized communities, and African American experiences; as well as particular focus on community controlled grassroots economic development and values-based alternative strategies. Topics include, economic democracy, the solidarity economy, cooperative economics (especially worker cooperatives and housing cooperatives), feminist economics, community development financial institutions, employee ownership, community land trusts, and challenges such as gentrification and neo-liberalism.

Black Lives and Decolonizing Methodologies: A Cross-Psychology Course in Critical Perspectives on Diversity and Decolonizing Psychology (Byrd and Fine)
80103 – 3 CR

Wednesdays 9:30 to 11:30 AM EST

We must stop the heartbeat of denial and revive America to the thumping beat of truth. The carnage has no chance of stopping until the denial stops. This is not who we are must become, in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol: This is precisely who we are. And we are ashamed. And we are aggrieved at what we’ve done, at how we let this happen. But we will change. We will hold the perpetrators accountable. We will change policy and practices. We will radically root out this problem. It will be painful. But without pain there is no healing. 

And in the end, what will make America true is the willingness of the American people to stare at their national face for the first time, to open the book of their history for the first time, and see themselves for themselves—all the political viciousness, all the political beauty—and finally right the wrongs, or spend the rest of the life of America trying.

 This can be who we are.

                                           – Ibram X. Kendi, in The Atlantic, January 11, 2021

We begin with courage and humility, seeking to unpack critically the history of psychology and psychological constructs that have sat at the core of our discipline and have bled into urban education. social welfare, sociology.  We will, throughout the course, return to the question of how “decolonizing” may (or may not) be an intellectual, political and ethical project for our discipline. We will explore what remains of the psychological project when we interrogate and expose the eugenic, white supremacist, classist, heteronormative, pro-military and misogynist groundings of the discipline. And we will excavate the transgressive possibilities that have erupted at the radical rim – in teaching, practice, scholarship, arts and activism – from within the belly of the discipline, “whited out” by the hegemonic commitments of the profession. We will ground ourselves in the writings and commitments of decolonial theorists writing from South Africa, Martinique, Latin America, northern Africa, the United States and Maori scholars in New Zealand writing on extractive social science, the enduring tentacles of colonialism and white supremacy, the transgressive enactments of liberation/critical/decolonizing projects and also the rich resonance of aesthetics/poetic knowledge and the radical imagination.



Political Ecology and Environmental Justice (Cindi Katz)
80103 – 3 CR
Wednesdays 4:15 – 6:15 PM EST

Political ecology and environmental justice are areas of great importance and intense contemporary debate, the former commonly associated with the global south and the latter with the north.  Yet scholars and practitioners working in these fields share similar concerns with the uneven effects of production, social reproduction, distribution, social justice, and inequalities in harms and benefits.  This seminar will critically examine contemporary theories of political ecology, environmental justice, sustainable development, and the production of nature across the disparate geographies of north and south, urban and rural, and at a number of scales.  In a series of case studies, we will engage current debates over such issues as climate change and its disparate effects, waste and pollution, environmental conservation, nature preservation, biodiversity, ecotourism, industrial agriculture, green capitalism, and the ‘green new deal.’



Research with Children and Youth (Roger Hart)
80103 – 3 CR
Wednesdays 4:15 – 6:15 PM EST



Research Methods and Ethics in Environmental Psychology (Brett Stoudt)
79200 – 3 CR
Thursdays 9:30 – 11:30 AM EST


Critical Remote Ethnography (Setha Low)
80103 – 3 CR
Thursdays 11:45 AM – 1:45 PM EST

Drawing inspiration from video interviews with six ethnographers who have conducted research remotely, this course offers graduate students an opportunity to examine and critique remote strategies for “doing ethnography.” The seminar begins with an overview of the goals, methods and forms of analysis that make up contemporary “real life” practices and then turns to the ways that film, video, digital and other forms of virtual techniques expand and complement current methods. The seminar explores a wide range of digital and analog tools, techniques, and methods for use across the disciplines. Readings focus on past projects and the impact of remote methods on ethnographic research.  Interviews with some of the major scholars in the field are included as well as viewing pre-recorded video interviews that are already available (John Jackson, Bianca Williams, Darya Radchenko, Sarah Pink will be invited). Each student who is planning ethnographic research projects in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is offered an opportunity to search social media for “data” and then use the course as a way to question the validity and reliability of these personal archives and resources to think through the implications of working with these data.  The course will require reading, web-based searches, and presentation of a final project that incorporates some of the virtual/digital methods covered in the course.

 Readings include:

 Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C., & Taylor, T. L. (2013). Ethnography and Virtual World: A Handbook of Method. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. LINK.

 Bonilla, Y., & Rosa, J. (2015). “#Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States.” American Ethnologist, 42(1), 4–17. LINK.

 Braverman, I. (2018). Coral whisperers: Scientists on the brink. Oakland, California: University of California Press. LINK

 —. (2017). “Captive: Zoometric Operations in Gaza.” Public Culture, 29(1 81), 191–215. LINK.

 —. “Renouncing Citizenship as Protest: Reflections by a Jewish Israeli Ethnographer.” Critical Inquiry, 44(2), 379–386. LINK.

 Hine, C. (2015). Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, embodied and everyday.  New York: Bloomsbury Academic. LINK.

 Jackson, John L. “An Ethnographic Filmflam: Giving Gifts, Doing Research, and Videotaping the Native Subject/Object.” American Anthropologist 106, no. 1 (2004): 32–42. LINK.

 Keeling, Kara. “Passing for Human: Bamboozled and Digital Humanism.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 15, no. 1 (January 1, 2005): 237–50. LINK.

 Pink, S., Horst, H. A., Postill, J., Hjorth, L., Lewis, T., Tacchi, J. (2016). Digital ethnography: Principles and practice. Sage. LINK

 Rufas, A., & Hine, C. (2018). “Everyday connections between online and offline: Imagining others and constructing community through local online initiatives.” New Media & Society, 20(10), 3879–3897. LINK.

 Sanjek, R., & Tratner, S. W. (Eds.). (2016). eFieldnotes: The makings of anthropology in the digital world. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. LINK.

Williams, Bianca, (2018). The Pursuit of Happiness.  Durham: Duke University Press.



Qualitative Methods (Harriet Goodman and Soniya Munshi)
80103 – 3 CR
Thursdays 2 – 4 PM EST


This course introduces students to the shared principles and varied approaches to qualitative research theory and methods in the social sciences. It presents the foundations of diverse qualitative research methodologies regarding their epistemologies, practices, and contributions.  Faculty coordinating and guiding the course invite colleagues teaching qualitative courses to present on a range of qualitative research traditions including ethnography, grounded theory, narrative inquiry, the listening guide, and study of lives. Guest faculty members present approaches they are actively engaging and are thus able to share and reflect on them critically and practically. Students will be introduced to methods of data collection and analytic strategies typically employed in qualitative inquiry. The course will include discussion on special issues that confront qualitative researchers.


Below are descriptions for courses frequently offered in association with the program.


Environmental Social Science I: Place, Space, and Experience
Description by Leigh Graham
This seminar is the first part of a three-course sequence introducing students to the multidisciplinary theoretical bases and substantive concerns of Environmental Social Science. Environmental Psychology grew out of a desire among scholars and practitioners to work across disciplines on real world problems of people and the environment. From the start, research was conducted in naturalistic settings and often with an applied orientation. CUNY’s program, which was founded in the late 1960s, has been interdisciplinary in orientation since its inception and, for that reason, we introduce the field within a larger context than psychology alone, hence the designation “Environmental Social Science”. The term is meant to embrace a wide field of study that addresses and seeks to understand the nature of the complex relationships between people and the physical environment. As such, we will survey a range of disciplines that comprise the field, encompassing historical and theoretical overviews as well as contemporary analyses concerning people’s engagements with the environment from the fields of anthropology, sociology, geography, urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental design and management, and psychology. The goals of the course are for each of you to a) begin to develop your own perspective on the nature of people-environment relationships in their larger social, economic, cultural, political, and historical context, b) get a sense of the historical evolution of ideas in the field, and c) develop a research topic and related bibliography.


Environmental Social Science II: Ecological and Contextual Conceptions of Psychology
Description by Susan Saegert
This course is the first of two theory courses designed to prepare doctoral students to understand and be able to deploy theoretical positions across the social sciences. This course focuses on the psychological level of analysis. The theories explored lend themselves to accounts of psychology that can mesh with other levels of analysis. The course also covers some of the historically important thinkers in environmental and critical social/personality psychology. The overall objective of the course is for each student to develop a reasoned and reasonably satisfying answer to the following question: How is the psychologically experienced self related to the social and physical context? Achieving this objective requires answering another question: What is the unit of analysis of psychology? Some of the positions prominent in psychology assume the answer would be either particular psychological processes or the biological substrate/determinants of experience and behavior.  This course introduces an alternative approach in which we see selves as socially and materially contingent and knowledge of selves as contingent.  In the latter approach a student must develop an answer to the question “Contingent in what way?”


Environmental Social Science III: Space and Social Theory/Social and Cultural Theories
Description by Setha Low
This course is intended to provide a broad overview of theoretical approaches to the study of space, place and culture. Three observations must be stressed. First, this course is explicitly theoretical in nature. It is concerned with the relation between concepts and the capacity of concepts to help us understand and critically analyze spatial and environmental phenomena. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that because this is a course on theory, it has no interest in empirical matters. Quite the opposite is true: theory is not separate from the world; rather, it is an attempt to grapple with what we encounter in everyday life. It emerges from our engagement with the world, not from separating ourselves from it. In turn, theory informs how we act in the world. Accordingly, it would be false to claim a divide between ‘theory’ and the ‘empirical world’, or between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’. As we will see in this class, such dichotomies obscure much more than they reveal. The second observation is that the course is a survey. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that by the end of the semester, you should have a general sense of the diversity of theoretical approaches that have been developed to make sense of environmental and geographical phenomena. The disadvantage is that we can only skim the surface of what is an immense literature. Over the semester, you should identify the theoretical approaches that seem most relevant, or most compelling, to you, and make these approaches a matter of sustained inquiry over the coming years. Part of being a good scholar is taking the initiative to understand the history of intellectual traditions and the debates within them and between them. The final observation is simply this: the readings in this course are often difficult. They will take time (and a degree of patience) to read. At certain points you will find yourself confronted by unfamiliar vocabulary, and with neologisms that will at least at first frustrate you. But over time you’ll begin to see why this vocabulary is being used, and why new words are invented, rather than returning to the ‘common-sense’ of old ones.




Children and Grown Ups: Cultural, Historical and Developmental Perspectives
Roger Hart


Environmental Sociology
Description by Ken Gould
This course explores the complex, dynamic interactions between social systems and ecosystems. Environmental political economy challenges social science’s human exemptionalist paradigm by incorporating the natural environment as a variable. The course will examine the social origins of the major environmental stresses facing contemporary social systems, the social conflicts that these stresses have produced, and a range of approaches to resolving social system-ecosystem disjuncture at local, regional, national, and transnational levels. Major theoretical frameworks and debates in environmental political economy will be addressed. Special attention will be paid to the roles of science and technology in generating and responding to socio-environmental disorganization, the role of socio-economic inequality in environmental conflicts, the emergence of environmental social movement coalitions, the fusion of the politics of place, production, and identity in ecological resistance movements, and linkages between transnational economic processes and efforts to achieve ecologically and socially sustainable development trajectories.


Introduction to Policy Analysis
Description by Leigh Graham
Interpreting and solving complex problems are everyday activities for public administrators, policy analysts and decision-makers, whether they are operating in international, regional, national or local political environments. In this course students will be introduced to a variety of techniques and perspectives that can be applied in real world public policy situations. Becoming more flexible thinkers is essential to learning how to improve public policy analysis, decision-making and management. Rigid, one-dimensional approaches to understanding complex problems often stem from, among other things, constraints relating to how we perceive time, space, dimension of problems, level of political response, form of governance, and culture and/or gender. The course relies on real-world cases, often drawn from contemporary urban policy issues, including, but not limited to, urban resilience and sustainability; affordable housing, crime and violence, public health, and disaster response and recovery.


Just Places: Action & Healing
Description by David Chapin
JUST PLACES. There are people committed to an equitable world; they sometimes create organizations and occupy a space. A focus on “Just Places” means a focus on places of justice or resistance to injustice, places that challenge the oligarchy. They can be thought of as places which have been appropriated by the people for the people. They contrast with the Corporate places of domination and consumption.
HEALING PLACES. People coming together in place can consciously create restoration and healing. Some places for people who have experienced disruption or historical trauma act purposefully to respect and care for each other.

The “place-ness” of Just Places implies embodied physical experience but may also require an electronic environment. The significance of “place-ness” itself is surely different from place one to another. What are these appropriated places like? How do people within these places care for each other? How is it to be in one of these places? How do the people inhabiting these places maintain their commitment? What might we learn by studying these places, both as individual examples, but also looking across these places? We will be reading and discussing literature of Theories of Change, Restorative Environments [sometimes involving nature and sometimes not], People Place Interactions, Liberation Texts, as well as Biographies and Narratives of makers of change. In this seminar we will be spending about half our time going to places, being there and experiencing them. We will want to ask for each place something of, “What is this place and how did it get to be what it is?” This will require thoughtful analysis of both the current circumstances as well as archival or other historical digging. We will do a case study for each of the places that we choose, each going into appropriate depth.


Methods Module: Participant Observation and Fieldnotes
Description by Setha Low
This methods module focuses on the ethnographic methods of participant observation and taking field notes. It is organized as an ongoing workshop of the intensive training of graduate students interested in working with qualitative methods and data. Four weekly meetings will utilize student fieldwork experience and data collected as the basis for discussion and critique of the effectiveness and theoretical utility of different methods. Topics will include: participant observation as a way of knowing, race/class/gender issues in fieldwork, ethics and values of participant observation, and the art of writing field notes.


Methods Module: Unstructured Interviewing
Description by Setha Low
1. To understand the interviewing process in the social sciences, its goals and advantages as well as its limitations, including the difference between unstructured (conversational) and structured and semi structured interviewing.
2. To develop the ability to interview in an ethical, thoughtful and substantively appropriate way.
3. To determine what the data mean, that is, what actually has been collected rather than assuming that the interview is a straightforward process of interviewees answering a given question.
4. To learn how field notes of the interview process can enhance the researcher’s understanding of the metacommunication situation and improve its subsequence analysis.
5.  To identify metacommunicative errors in the interview that can lead to insights about the interview process.
6.  To reflect upon how ones’ race, class, age, gender, sexual orientation and other abilities influences the interview situation.


Methods Module: Ethnographic/Qualitative Data Analysis
Description by Setha Low
This module is organized as an ongoing practicum for the intensive training of graduate students in qualitative data analysis of unstructured and semi-structured interviews and field notes. Weekly meetings will utilize student fieldwork experience and data collected as the basis for discussion and critique of different qualitative data methods and techniques. Topics will include: coding, content analysis, grounded theory forms of analysis, conversational analysis, other forms of data analysis and writing up of qualitative data for publication.


Participatory Democracy and Social Movements
Description by Celina Su
This seminar takes a look at what ordinary citizens do to shape public programs and engage in politics— in ways other than voting. We explore the notion that popular participation can make democratic governance more legitimate, fair, and effective. Is participatory democracy— alternatively called bottom-up participation, maximal democracy, or direct democracy— really better? Specifically, we will examine forms and functions of civil society from a comparative perspective by looking at specific examples of (1) participatory institutions (neighborhood councils, urban budgeting, school governance, etc.), (2) participation in non-governmental organizations and development projects, and (3) social movements around the world (landless people’s movements, transnational networks, mothers of political dissidents who have “disappeared,” AIDS protest groups, etc.). Sometimes, these three categories blur into one another. We will try to focus on case studies in “Global South” middle-income countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa, though we also include domestic cases as a point of reference. How much should ordinary citizens participate in policymaking, and how? Under what circumstances? We will pay special attention to equity in participation, uses and construction of identity, and policy impacts in each case.


Politics of Public Space
Description by Setha Low
This course begins with an exploration of what it means for space to be public particularly in the urban environment.  Course readings cover the economic, social, political, and cultural ideas of what public and publicness means and the ways that this “publicness” is worked out spatially. A variety of public spaces—parks, plazas, libraries, streets, sidewalks, and beaches—where publicness is produced and contested are examined, and students will select public spaces to study as part of the learning process. This course also reviews the ways in which political expression and negotiation among constituencies occur in the public space. It considers the concepts of the “right to the city” and social justice as political ideals for public space and current trends such as privatization, surveillance, and securitization as expressions of conflict. The course organization is based on the major concepts and processes evident in public space with a focus on how they have been understood theoretically and ethnographically.


Research Methods and Ethics
Description by Susan Saegert
The aim of this course is to help students construct a critical framework for developing, conducting, and interpreting research. This will involve: 1) Understand the ontological and epistemological foundations of different approaches to research design and methods;
2) Critically evaluate published research papers in the social sciences;
3) Develop alternative research strategies that might be employed for various problems in the social sciences.
Coursework will include discussing and critiquing readings from philosophy of social science, from methods texts, and from empirical reports from multiple research traditions.  Students will also practice the skills of research by developing multiple approaches to their own research questions.


Statistical Methods in Psychology
Description by Brett Stoudt
The purpose of this course is to help you learn and apply the foundations of statistical thinking. More specifically, by the end of this first semester of a two-semester course you will increase your knowledge in the following areas:
1. Statistical Concepts: You will develop an understanding of the beginning and intermediate level statistical concepts.
2. Statistical Mathematics: You will be able to calculate by hand some of the important statistical equations.
3. Statistical Software: You will learn how to competently use two statistical programs: SPSS and SAS
4. Statistical Literacy: You will become a more aware and critical consumer of statistics in the media, policy, and research


Supportive Settings and Restorative Environments
David Chapin

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 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.