courses

NYU student writing on whiteboard in classroom at Wallkill Correctional Facility

All of our courses are taught in person and in classrooms at Wallkill Correctional Facility that are equipped with desks, white boards, and audiovisual technology.

We conduct admissions to admit new students twice per year, maintain an enrollment number of at least 50 students, and offer 6 courses per semester. Students are provided with course materials, and the facility has a computer lab with printers and a research library.

In addition to credit-bearing courses, students participate in non-credit professional workshops and academic tutoring offered by volunteers, faculty, and staff each semester. Workshops are developed in collaboration with the NYU PEP student council.

Social Foundations I: Work, Labor, and Power
Professor Andrew Ross
(Mondays beginning May 14)
Why do we work so hard? How are the benefits from our labor distributed? In this class we look at the history of work and labor in the United States, from early attitudes toward agricultural livelihoods, and the emergence of plantation slavery, through the industrial period and the emergence of white-collar labor up to today’s landscape of post-industrial work in which trade unions are in decline.  
*This course can be taken as an elective if the Social Foundations I requirement has been fulfilled.

Social Foundations II: Strategies in Social and Cultural Analysis
Professors Nikhil Singh and Thuy Linh Tu
(Tuesdays beginning May 15)
This course introduces students to a range of research methods and sources used in social and cultural analysis: from the analysis of images, sounds and objects, to the understanding of material culture and infrastructure, to ethnography, oral history, and the investigation of texts and archives. The main goal of the course is to understand the relationship between theory, evidence, and method in the effort to produce new knowledge. In thinking about research strategies we will consider: 1) how specific methods align to particular questions, 2) the politics and limits of knowledge production, and 3) the relationship between method, interpretation and argument.  Course readings will provide insights into how scholars choose and develop research strategies, and practical individual and group exercises will introduce students to the challenge of designing and conducting original investigation. 
*This course can be taken as an elective if the Social Foundations II requirement has been fulfilled.

Elective: Foundations of Speech Communications
Professor Piper Anderson
(Wednesdays beginning May 23)
In this course students will develop effective speech communication skills that will prepare them for a range of academic and professional activities where formal presentations are required. Central components of the course include generating topics, organizing ideas for written and oral presentation, mastering elements of audience psychology, and practicing techniques of speech presentation in a public forum. Students will be required to participate in a culminating event presenting their persuasive speeches on a social topic of their choosing.

Elective: Creating a Publication
Professor Allyson Paty
(Wednesdays from June 13 – July 11)
After having each written and refined original writing through a series of workshops in early 2018, students will now compile and edit this writing into a print volume. The five editorial and design meetings will acquaint writers with each stage of the publishing process, from establishing an editorial vision to determining design features to acquiring the technical skills of copy editing and proofreading. The course will culminate in a printed volume, to be released and distributed at the end of the term.
*This course can only be taken for credit by participants who attended all five of the Spring 2018 writing workshops.

Writing I: On Humane-ism
Professor Laurie Woodard
(Mondays beginning June 18)
The focus of this first-year writing seminar is the human condition. As students develop their reading and writing skills, especially close readings, observation, critical analysis, thesis development, utilization of textual evidence, rhetorical structure, and formation of an argument, we will explore themes including identity, race, ethnicity, gender, class, nation, capitalism, power, empathy, and humane-ism. Students will also develop their own literary voice, style and tone as they work towards becoming more engaging and effective writers. Class meetings will include in-class writing, discussion of texts, grammar and syntax exercises, and workshopping of student work. Readings will include, but are not limited to, works by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, George Monbiot, and Twyla Tharp.

Writing I: Fiction and Memoir
Professor Ethan Loewi
(Tuesdays beginning May 29)
This course offers a wide-ranging, intensive study of two closely intertwined genres: fiction and memoir. Students will read, discuss, and critically investigate great works of literature while developing every facet of their core writing skills. Each author we’ll examine has something vital to tell us about the art of storytelling: how to form an identity on identity on the page, write great sentences, craft compelling story arcs, and combine powerful true events with style and drama. Developing core writing skills will be paramount: students will write critical essays on the stories and novels we read, as well as produce original creative work. The course will also include a workshop component, giving students the chance to share their stories with each other and receive feedback from their peers. Writing is a vital tool for enacting social change and critiquing institutional power structures. The course will explore this aspect of fiction, and develop the skills of grammar, style, and structure that are needed to produce great writing. By examining our class texts through critical, creative, and historical lenses, this course will empower students to tell their own stories, and better understand the stories of others.

Writing I: Stories of Racial Formations
Professor Julia Mendoza
There are many ways to express yourself: through memoirs, autobiographies, poems, letters, diaries, and even tattoos. In this course, we will ask ourselves what it means to not only write one’s own story, but to also be thoughtful to the sensitive task of writing someone else’s story. This class will explore the importance of telling stories in order to understand how stories can illuminate our understanding of social justice. Accordingly, we will seek to read stories along relative interdisciplinary scholarship in order to understand how the power of a narrative can be used for thinking about broader notions of racial formations.
Elective: Practical Journalism
Professor Aaron Gell
In this introductory course, taught by a veteran editor and reporter, students will learn how to report and write non-fiction news articles in a variety of formats. They’ll explore the difference between a news story, an editorial, a news analysis, a profile, a first-person essay, a Q&A, a critical review, and a long-form narrative feature, completing assignments in each form over the course of the semester. The class will explore how reporters uncover information, and how to identify “fake news.” It will provide a foundation in journalistic ethics, teaching students to recognize their own biases and untested assumptions and to strive for objectivity, accuracy and fairness. It will explore how the internet has hammered the old business models that supported the news media, and how it’s opened up surprising opportunities for the rest of us to be heard. And most of all, it will identify the ways in which the techniques of journalism—research, critical thinking, interviewing, fact-checking, persuasive writing, editing and all narrative storytelling—can be applied to everyday life.
Cultural Foundations I: Representations of Women in Literature
Professor Carolyn Dinshaw
In this course, we will read literature – essays, novels, and poetry – by women. But this immediately begs some questions: What is a woman, and who gets to decide? We will need to read theories of gender and sexuality in order to help us start to address such questions as well as the questions that flow from those: How do we think about differences among women? What are the forms of power that separate women from each other, and from men? What about people who are not very well described by the terms “woman” and “man”? Our literary texts are written mostly by writers from the U.S. and England in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Brontë, Jean Rhys, Toni Morrison, Ana Castillo, and Dorothy Allison.
Elective: Introduction to Social Work
Professor Carol Tosone
In this introductory social work course students will learn about the history of the social work profession and its development in the United States, including the dual focus on advocacy for social justice and core counseling skills to engage at-risk clients from diverse backgrounds. Students will learn about the fields of practice in which social workers operate: aging, child welfare, criminal justice, health and mental health, substance abuse, trauma and disaster. Students will also learn about the impact of poverty, oppression, racism, and trauma on individual, family, and group development, and the role of the social welfare system in clients’ everyday lives. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of students developing core assessment, communication and engagement skills, as well as the ability to self-reflect and work ethically to enhance the lives of clients in need.
Social Foundations III: Introduction to Food Studies
Professor Sara Franklin
How do food, culture, the natural environment and human society relate to one another? In this course, we look at food’s role in constructing individual and group identities, considering identity in terms of the body, race, class, gender and religion, as well as geo-political situation. We will read and watch selections representing a range of food media, past and present; explore connections between trends in food culture and media and contemporary politics; introduce methods and analytical approaches used in the emerging field of food studies; and practice some of those approaches and methodologies (ex: participant observation, autoethnography, oral history) in class assignments.
Cultural Foundations III: Major Texts in Critical Theory
Professor Elaine Freedgood
In this course we will come to understand why nothing is obvious, why language is not transparent, and how various thinkers have thought about power, subjectivity, race, caste, class, capital, sexual identity, and knowledge. Every idea has a history; nothing is given or natural in this course.
Environmental Systems Science
Professor Andrew Bell
A comprehensive survey of critical issues in environmental systems science, focusing on: human population; Earth’s waters; Earth’s atmosphere ;the global chemical cycles; energy flows in nature; humans and global change; ecosystems and biodiversity; endangered species and wildlife; energy systems from fossil fuels to renewable forms; urban environments; wastes; and paths to a sustainable future. This course will cover a very significant amount of demanding material. This course will be challenging, and students should expect a steep learning curve.
Social Foundations I: Slavery, Race, and the Making of America
Professor Steve Hahn
This course will explore and histories of slavery and race and their influence on the development of the United States. We will begin with the seventeenth-century origins of North American slavery and end with the twenty-first century system of mass incarceration. Along the way–largely through the use of primary sources–we will see how people of African resisted their oppression as slaves, how African-American slavery was defended by slaveholders and fortified by the national government, how African Americans as slaves and free people helped destroy slavery and struggled over the meaning of freedom, how the Jim Crow system of segregation and disfranchisement came into being, and how twentieth century movements and leaders pressed for new forms of equality and justice.