Applications Due: Monday, November 11, 2019

About Pressing Public Issues:

Pressing Public Issues (PPI) is a partnership between the James Gallery, the Graduate Center Teaching and Learning and Center, and the CUNY Humanities Alliance, born of our shared interest in supporting work in the arts and humanities inside and outside the classroom. PPI will pair faculty teaching courses in the humanities at CUNY community colleges in Spring 2020 with teaching artists who specialize in publicly-engaged work. Each course will integrate a project engaging a pressing issue relevant to students’ lives and interests that will be presented publicly. The project will ask students to experiment with creative modes of research, expression, knowledge-production, and public scholarship. Students, supported by the faculty and teaching artist, may explore the topic through a variety of forms of expression, including podcasts, photography, storytelling, poetry, dance, video, listening sessions, and other modes.

The core themes of the PPI project are aligned with a spring exhibition organized by the James Gallery and The Racial Imaginary Institute “On Nationalism and Democracy: Borders and Belonging.” Class projects should connect explicitly to these themes. “On Nationalism and Democracy” is exploring how, in an era of resurgent ethnic and racial nationalist ideology contemporary writers, artists, and thinkers might reimagine the concept of the nation. It asks, what does it mean to belong? Similarly, students are asked to reflect on these questions and their role as creators. Furthermore, in response to the mainstreaming of far-right ideology and heightened polarization and vicious public debate, “On Nationalism and Democracy” explores how it is possible to have conversations that take seriously the complex experiences and predicaments of people who are largely unfamiliar to us and have conflicting worldviews at the same time as expressing our disagreement and holding firm to our core values. PPI class projects may explore as their jumping off point poet Claudia Rankine's question to herself as she deliberates how to engage with someone she is driving with whose different life experiences and beliefs she finds challenging: “how can I say this so that we can stay in this car together, and yet explore the things that I want to explore with you?”

Through two planning meetings prior to the spring semester, selected faculty and teaching artists will explore, share, and develop their creative teaching practices and pedagogies to inform and shape their courses. During the Spring 2020 semester, students enrolled in selected courses will create projects for public presentation both online in a PPI digital media space as well as on their community college campuses. In addition, projects will be highlighted at the James Gallery and/or Segal Theatre at the Graduate Center.


Responsibilities of Faculty

Responsibilities of Teaching Artists


Faculty will be provided an honoraria of $2,000.

Teaching artists will be provided an honoraria of $2,000.

There will be an additional budget of $500 per project to be used for supplies and materials needed for the final project.


Please fill out and submit an online proposal here by Monday, November 11, 2019.

Co-sponsored by the James Gallery, the Graduate Center Teaching and Learning and Center, and the CUNY Humanities Alliance.