Class from Sociology of New York City offered in Fall 2018
Photo: Professor Zhandarka Kurti with students taking her class at Wallkill Correctional Facility

Sociology of New York City with Professor Zhandarka Kurti

In Fall 2018, students at Wallkill Correctional Facility took a course on the Sociology of New York City. The course curriculum was designed by Professor Zhandarka Kurti  with PEP students in mind; over 80% of our students come from the five boroughs that comprise New York City.  The course materials focused on the social, political and economic transformations of New York City from the early 1800’s until the present moment. The class touched on topics relating to industrialization, race and class relations, consumption and labor patterns, migration and gentrification.

Halfway during the semester, two of the students received early release and returned home to New York City. They worked together with Professor Kurti to finish the course at NYU. Prof. Kurti supplemented the course materials with field trips to local museums such as the “Black Power” exhibit at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, “Sweatshop Workers Tour” at the Tenement Museum, “Down these Mean Streets” exhibit at Museo del Barrio, and“New York at Its Core” at Museum of the City of New York. These visits allowed students to connect related class readings with students’ lived experience. This is the first time that PEP has designed a course curriculum that directly engages them outside of the classroom. We hope to offer this course again in the near future!

Two PEP students and Professor visiting the Tenement Museum
Photo: Professor Zhandarka Kurti and two NYU PEP students at the Tenement Museum [Professor Zhandarka Kurti was a 2018-2019 NYU Prison Education Program Postdoctoral Fellow sponsored by the Mellon Foundation].
As part of Sociology of NYC course, students at Wallkill Correctional Facility put together the ultimate New York mixtape. Music was central to learning about the transformations in the city’s economy and culture. Students were excited to pay homage to hip hop which originated in the South Bronx as the voice of a generation of African American, Puerto Rican and Carribean teenagers and which has over a few decades become a contemporary global phenomenon. They had intense discussions about which songs to select and let’s just say that it took a lot of compromising from all of us to narrow down the list. Students ultimately decided to choose artists and songs that best capture what Nas called the “New York State of Mind.” 
Listen to Students’ playlist and read about it in the Washington Square News. Enjoy!