Civic Engagement and Graduate Education Seminar
Spring 2014 | CFS 495-0 Section 20
Time and Place
Center for Civic Engagement Seminar Room, 1813 Hinman
What does it mean to be a citizen-scholar? This seminar probes the question of connecting specialized academic research to broader audiences from multiple perspectives. We explore both historical models and contemporary debates as we think across the humanities, arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and applied fields of design, engineering, law, journalism, non-profit work, and business. The course pays particularly close attention to the new opportunities and challenges of public scholarship in the digital age: how might the digital offer new ways of moving between academia, specific communities or institutions, and conceptualizations of a broader public? Students contribute weekly posts and comments to our collective blog, maintain a collective Twitter feed at #nugeo, and complete a final, longer “white paper” that relates to the particular internship completed during the quarter. The seminar convenes in connection with the Graduate Engagement Opportunities Program at the Northwestern Center for Civic Engagement.
You are going to write a lot in this course, but your writing will often be different than the typical research essay. Instead, we want to use the course to investigate our writing styles more closely in terms of how we can connect specialized academic knowledge to broader audiences. What does it mean to “bridge” this divide? What are the challenges? What are the opportunities?
You might think of your audience not only as your classmates and me, but also as a broader readership of interested people. You might consider how those at your placement site might respond to the readings and your responses, or you might imagine your audience as others who also wish to pursue a civic engagement internship and enroll in the seminar but are unable to do this term. In other words, try to write clearly and precisely, describing what you are reading and thinking about as well as offering your interpretation of materials and experiences. Be honest. Take seriously that your words and comments matter, that others rely on them to be substantive, civil, and judicious. Don’t be afraid to not understand things. Ask questions. Take a chance. Model what it means to write in the space between being a scholar with a developing expertise in a field of specialized research and a citizen-at-large, an equal with others who also has something distinctive to say.
1. Weekly blog posts. We will be using a WordPress blog for our course. Each week I will ask you to post a response to the readings and an additional post. Be sure to add the proper category to your post and add tags.
2. Weekly responses. Each week I wish for you to respond to at least one other student’s post. What did it make you think about? What kinds of constructive criticism can you offer? Be substantive!
3. Weekly follow up comment. Sometimes revelations emerge after we read or write something and have some time to reflect on it. Therefore I ask you to write a short follow up comment to your previous week’s post. What has changed for you since you wrote the post? What remains the same? Be substantive!
4. Twitter. I would like each of you to create a Twitter account. It can be an existing one or you can create a separate one specifically for this course. We will use Twitter to share ideas, thoughts, information, and more with a broader community of people interested in where academic and public scholarship meet. We will also consider the problems of using Twitter in this way: how does it extend scholarly and civic engagement? What are its shortcomings? Please use the hashtag #nugeo so that we can compile tweets for the course. My “handle” is @kramermj if you are trying to find me on Twitter.
5. Final essay. A more sustained final paper or project—roughly 10-15 pages—analyzing or contributing to the substantive, public work of the internship or field study is due at the end of the quarter. Ideally, the paper or project can also be a kind of “white paper” that is of direct value and assistance to the community organization or public entity with which you are interning. But it can also review the analytical or research work completed or connect your research interests to your internship in other creative ways.
Grades for the seminar will be based on class participation (30%), weekly assignments (40%), and the final project (30%). The experiential work done in the internship will not be graded as such, however students must perform their weekly hours at their internship and stay in good standing with the host organization for seminar credit to be earned.
Book to Purchase
• C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, with a new afterword by Todd Gitlin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), available at online bookstores and through NU Reserves.
• All other readings online at either Blackbord (courses.northwestern.edu) or respective link.
4/9 Getting Engaged
• Julie Ellison, “The Humanities and the Public Soul,” in Practising Public Scholarship: Experiences and Possibilities Beyond the Academy, ed. Katharyne Mitchell (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), 113-121, see Blackboard.
• George J. Sanchez, “Crossing Figueroa: The Tangled Web of Diversity and Democracy,” with Responses, Imagining America Foreseeable Futures Position Papers #4, 2005, http://imaginingamerica.org/fg-item/the-tangled-web-of-diversity-and-democracy/?parent=520.
• Jenny Pickerell, “The Surprising Sense of Hope,” Practising Public Scholarship: Experiences and Possibilities Beyond the Academy, ed. Katharyne Mitchell (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), 132-137, see Blackboard.
• Imagining America Page Fellows blog posts from Fall 2013, http://imaginingamerica.org/news-and-media/blog/.
A. Blog assignment due 4/7:
a. Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your academic research and your civic engagement work this quarter.
b. Develop a 2-3 paragraph response to one of the readings in which you seek to explain it to a friend who is not in academia. What is the argument of the essay? Can you paraphrase it? What do you see as the key words or phrases in the essay? Why? What do you agree with or disagree with and, most importantly, why?
B. Comment due 4/8.
C. Followup due 4/11.
4/16 Sociological Imagination 1: C. Wright Mills as a Case Study
• C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (1959; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1-99.
A. Blog assignment due 4/15:
a. Develop a 2-3 paragraph response to this week’s readings.
b. As Mills does with the paragraph of Talcott Parsons, select a paragraph from your favorite article or book in your academic speciality and translate it into prose that is accessible to a general audience. Quote the original in your post and, as Mills does, follow with your translation.
B. Comment due 4/18.
C. Followup due 4/21.
4/23 Sociological Imagination 2: C. Wright Mills as a Case Study
• Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 100-228.
A. Blog assignment due 4/21:
a. The Sociological Imagination has just been republished. How does it hold up? Develop a short book review of the book. You may incorporate observations from your internship and materials from the other readings about Mills. But the review should connect Mills’s work from 1959 to contemporary times. What still matters about the book specifically and what doesn’t?
B. Comment due 4/25.
C. Followup due 4/28.
• Harold Washington This American Life Special, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/84/Harold.
• Barack Obama, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995; reprint, New York: Broadway Books, 2004), 133-206, see Blackboard.
• Mary Pattillo, “Negotiating Blackness, for Richer or for Poorer,” Ethnography 4, 1 (2003): 61–93, see Blackboard.
A. Blog assignment due 4/28:
a. Connect a specific aspect of the materials for this week to your own reflections on Chicago.
b. Write a brief preview of what you plan to do for your final project in the course.
B. Comment due 5/2.
C. Followup due 5/5.
5/7 Going Digital
• Henry Farrell, “The Tech Intellectuals,” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas 30, Fall 2013, http://www.democracyjournal.org/30/the-tech-intellectuals.php?page=all.
• Diana Taylor, “Save As… Knowledge and Transmission in the Age of Digital Technologies,” Imagining America Foreseeable Futures Position Papers #10, 2010, http://imaginingamerica.org/fg-item/save-as-knowledge-and-transmission-in-the-age-of-digital-technologies/?parent=520.
• Axel Honneth, “Idiosyncrasy as a Tool of Knowledge: Social Criticism in the Age of the Normalized Intellectual,” Transformations of the Public Sphere, http://publicsphere.ssrc.org/honneth-social-criticism-in-the-age-of-the-normalized-intellectual/.
Browse the following websites. Pick one to discuss in your blog post this week:
• Mukurtu, http://www.mukurtu.org
• The Community Tool Box, http://ctb.ku.edu/en/default.aspx
• History Harvest, http://historyharvest.unl.edu
• Freedom’s Ring: King’s I Have a Dream Speech, http://freedoms-ring.org/
• Prison Valley: The Prison Industry, http://prisonvalley.arte.tv/?lang=en
• The Knotted Line, http://knottedline.com
• Public Sphere Forum, http://publicsphere.ssrc.org
• The Chicago Arts Archive, http://sixtyinchesfromcenter.org/archive/
• Digital Media and Learning, MacArthur Foundation, http://www.macfound.org/programs/learning/
• Geographical Perspectives: A Geographer’s Thoughts on Business, Real Estate, and Education, http://www.justinholman.com
• Digital Portobello, http://digitalportobelo.org.
A. Blog assignment due 5/5:
a. What can the digital offer to civic engagement by scholars? What problems does it raise for the citizen-scholar, for the expert, for conceptualizations of the public? Write a 2-3 paragraph response to these prompts that draws specifically upon your sense of the readings for this week’s seminar.
b. Write 1-3 paragraph reflection about your placement internship thus far. What are you noticing? What has been exciting? What is frustrating you? If you had to start writing your final essay today, what would its topic be?
B. Comment due 5/9.
C. Followup due 5/12.
5/14 Citizen-Scholar and the State
• Theda Skocpol, “The Tocqueville Problem: Civic Engagement in American Democracy,” Social Science History 21, 4 (Winter, 1997): 455-479, see Blackboard.
• Tony Judt, “What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy?,” New York Review of Books, 17 December 2009, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/dec/17/what-is-living-and-what-is-dead-in-social-democrac/?pagination=false.
• Rebecca Solnit, “The Uses of Disaster: Notes on Bad Weather and Good Government,” Harper’s, 1 October 2005, 31-37, see Blackboard.
A. Blog assignment due 5/12:
a. What role should the state play in civil society? How should the expert-scholar relate to the state and those in political (or economic for that matter!) power? What about to other institutions, from corporations to non-profit associations to the university itself—how should the citizen-scholar position herself or himself in relation to institutions? Develop a 2-3 paragraph response that draws upon this week’s readings with specificity.
B. Comment due 5/16.
C. Followup due 5/19.
A. Blog assignment due 5/19:
a. Write a short profile of someone at your internship. It can be in the form of an interview, an essay, a podcast, a videocast, or another form that you think best expresses your conversation with this person.
b. Develop an update of your final project plans.
B. Comment due 5/23.
C. Followup due 5/26.
A Few More Notes
Be sure to comply with all academic integrity policies at Northwestern: http://www.northwestern.edu/provost/policies/academic-integrity/index.html. Be aware that the instructor is required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty. The instructor also reserves the right to assign a failing grade for the course if a student is found to have violated university policy concerning academic integrity.
Students with special needs and disabilities that have been declared and documented through the Northwestern Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) should meet with the instructor to discuss any specific accommodations. For further information, see the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) website: http://www.northwestern.edu/disability.