Open Online Course: East Harlem Focus

Reassessing Inequality and Reimagining the 21st Century: East Harlem Focus
A Participatory, Open, Online Course (POOC)
Graduate Center-CUNY,  Spring 2013.
Instructors: Wendy Luttrell, Caitlin Cahill
Community Liaison: Edwin Mayorga
Digital Fellow: Wilneida Negrón

What does inequality look like in 2013 and how might we imagine it differently for our collective futures? What can working with East Harlem teach us about the most urgent political economic issues of our time? How do the affordances of digital technologies augment the way we both research inequality and resist its corrosive effects?

Engaging broad questions of economic inequality and its impact on the “commons,” or public sphere, the seminar combines a political economic analysis with an examination of lived experiences, counter-narratives and everyday forms of resistance; and considers the role that new technologies can play in offering alternative ways to document, study, and resist inequalities. Dialogues with prominent scholars, public intellectuals, community activists, and artists address the intersections of structural inequalities and the stories that shape people’s everyday struggles with the ever widening gap in wealth, income, and debt and how this affecting public services and institutions. The course focuses upon issues of housing, education and technology and include community engagement events and research in East Harlem.

This course also engages critical questions of how digital technologies can be used for community-engaged teaching and scholarship.  The course was conducted as a participatory, open, online course, a “POOC.” This POOC reimagines the MOOC (massive, open, online course) that is gaining so much attention in the mainstream press. Our vision of a participatory, open, online course is one that places collaborating with East Harlem at the center.  At the same time, we want to use the open Internet to engage wider publics who may have ties to, or interest in, East Harlem beyond the physical boundaries of El Barrio.

Open Learning Continues

Even though the in-person version of the course has ended, the course materials remain open and available to anyone who wants to participate in the online seminar at no cost.  Course videos are all online along with bibliographies and many of the suggested readings for each module. You can explore the various Pods, which group the classes by topics, like Education, Housing, Participatory Action Research. An entire section of the site is devoted to Knowledge Streams, the application of various types of technologies to produce digital media that will help you reach a broader audience for your scholarship.

#InQ13 Repository for Activists and Researchers Interested in East Harlem

During the fall of 2013, we will be re-shaping the course website into more of a repository. The goal of the #InQ13 Repository is to create an open, online space where activists and academics concerned with East Harlem can post their research, art, digital archives, maps, and tools for civic engagement.  Our hope is that our experiment in open learning will endure beyond the end of the seminar and that the repository will serve as one way to resist the very real, material inequality facing El Barrio.


Registration for the site is open to anyone.  Click here to go to the course site.

This course is the first open, online course in the history of the CUNY-Graduate Center.  It is a co-sponsored by the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) and JustPublics@365, funded by the Ford Foundation.



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