Seeing Community in a Multicultural Society: Teaching about Peopling of Global Cities
Sociology Brooklyn College, City University of New York Brooklyn, New York, United States of America
The visual methods I use in my teaching enable students to appreciate and understand community in multicultural urban environments. At the City University of New York my classes are offered to a very diverse student body whose own biographies and home neighborhoods are a rich source of knowledge and experience that can be used to enhance learning from other more and less conventional sources. Much of my work is comparative; based on research and lecturing in European, as well as other cities. Here I wish to demonstrate how might the methods I use in New York City be applicable for European venues. I will try to demonstrate how one might integrate high and low-tech visual teaching technologies with more traditional modes of observation and explanation, particularly as I train my students in the "practice of space," or the relations between spatial forms and social practices in terms of how either or both change in response to the constraints of space and place. Attention will specifically directed toward the CUNY Macaulay Honors College Freshman Seminar The Peopling of New York City" in which I employ a "Visual and Virtual" approach to examine some of the neighborhood communities created and maintained by the various people who have come to NYC over the past four centuries. During the semester the experience of Original, Old, New, and Newest Immigrants are compared at many different levels and in many different formats. One technique is visual ethnographic (still and video camera) field study of vernacular landscapes transformed by new migrants. Another is the creation of illustrated student autobiographies of migration contained in "There to Here" essays. Students also explore migration and diversity as represented in popular visual media in individual and collaborative class projects. An important product of the course is a website or wiki created by the students which includes their own work as well as a visually enhanced class project about the historical and contemporary experience of a particular neighborhood of their choosing. The presentation will feature examples of these activities and student work (with their prior permission).