This spring, the Center for the Study of Public Life (CSPL) is showcasing several classes taught by some exciting and unusual visitors, in addition to some wonderful classes taught by Wesleyan professors. The following courses still have seats available:
Community Research Seminar (SOC 316), cross-listed with ENVS, the Civic Engagement Certificate, and the Environmental Studies Certificate. Taught by Rob Rosenthal (1.5 credit, meets M/W 10:50 am-12:10 pm) – contact Course Assistant Maddie Scher for the application and with any questions.
Teams of students learn the theory and practice of doing community research while carrying out research for local nonprofits, community organizations, and activist groups. 1.5 credits. Highly challenging, highly rewarding. This year’s projects include research on how institutional and systemic racism effects of Communities of Color in Middletown (for the Middlesex Coalition for Children) and the long-range effects of service-learning courses (for the Wesleyan Service-Learning Program).
Group Psychology in Politics: Local, State, and National Perspectives (CSPL 206). Taught by Middletown’s Mayor Dan Drew (0.5 credits, meets Friday 1:20-4:10 pm) – open to first-years!
This course is an introduction to the use of group dynamics to understand the deep personal and systems-level issues at play in the body politic. This framework is applicable at the local, state, national, and international levels. Often, if not most of the time, these issues play an outsized role in any public policy initiative, debate, vote, action, deliberation, and discourse, though they are rarely acknowledged. This class will examine group dynamics as it is practiced in the field of organizational development (OD), a branch of organizational psychology used to implement cultural changes across social systems. The application of OD to politics is not widespread, but its tools are useful in understanding the dynamics in political situations and in the understanding of how power is exercised. The course will introduce concepts in open systems theory and will introduce three models to hold the data in our case studies: the Burke-Litwin Model, BART, and GRPI.
This course will engage students as readers and writers of essays, opinion pieces, and long form articles about the natural world. We live in the shadow of climate change and the sixth great extinction event. So when is outrage effective, and when does wit or irony allow a writer to find a more persuasive voice? What’s the role of objectivity in a world where everybody seems to be shouting? We’ll consider the work of such writers as Gerald Durell, David Quammen, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Peter Matthiessen. Students will also write regularly and collaborate together in class to critique and improve one another’s work.
Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar II (CSPL 321). Taught by Sean McCann and Charles Barber (0.5 credit, meeting time TBA) – POI (open to any interested students)
Students participating in the Collaborative Cluster Initiative will take this course in the spring semester. They will continue with projects started in the fall semester. This is a continuation of CSPL320. This course will supplement the seminars providing historical and cultural background of the prison system in the United States. The emphasis will be on the practical application of topics engaged in the other seminars and contemporary concerns related to the prison system in the U.S. We shall follow current debates at both the national and state level, including legislation, media, and university initiatives. Students will also visit local sites. Speakers will visit the class to share their experiences and expertise. Students will conduct individual research projects and present them in workshop fashion.
Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy (CSPL 333). Taught by singer/songwriter Dar Williams (1 credit, meets Wednesday 1:20-4:10 pm)
This course will focus on music movements that have used the presentation, expression, and production of music and music events to facilitate sociopolitico transitions. The vital context of these movements is the United States in particular, where the speed and power of commerce, as well as the concentration of capital, present unique opportunities for progressive values and goals in music.
We will look at huge events, like the Newport festivals, Woodstock, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Lillith Fair, and Bonnaroo, and examine how these movements have both evolved and spread their tendrils into the world (if they have). We will also spend some time on smaller, grassroots venues and music series in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and New York and see how blues, folk, punk, and “Americana” venues have affected and interacted with their communities. We will look at how music scenes evolved and grew and sometimes became institutions, like the Chicago Old Town School of Music.
This seminar focuses upon educational innovation and entrepreneurship as a form of social entrepreneurship, some of society’s greatest challenges in education. Learners will survey critical issues in contemporary education and explore innovative and entrepreneurial efforts to address these issues. Learners will explore how diverse education startups, non-profit organizations and NGOs, individuals and grassroots groups, K-12 schools, Universities, foundations, professional associations and others are responding to these issues in innovative ways. As the course progresses, learners will explore the roles of foundations, corporations, and government policies and regulations upon educational innovation and entrepreneurship. As part of this course, learners will work individually or in groups to research solutions to a pressing contemporary educational challenge and propose/pitch a means of addressing that challenge through social entrepreneurship.