The Teaching and Learning Center is pleased to invite applications to participate in three Focused Inquiry Groups (FIGs) for the Spring 2017 Semester. Our FIGs will bring together small cadres of Graduate Center students who will collaborate on a research project, with the goal of producing an artifact that will move our community’s engagement with specific pedagogical questions forward. The workload is scoped to between ten and fifteen hours over the remaining of the Spring semester.

Selected participants will work with FIG facilitators on the topics below, and will be paid $200.
Spring 2017 FIGs

Developing a Socially Conscious Pedagogy: Notes from the Field
Facilitated by Sakina Laksimi-Morrow, Urban Education

Teaching can be an empowering and transformational practice. As a budding scholar, being in a classroom presents an opportunity to challenge problematic constructs and concepts with a group of undergraduate students. Yet fostering the development of critical thinking skills and socio-political awareness as an integral part of the learning process can be challenging.

Graduate Center students have competing responsibilities, and developing a socially conscious pedagogy is a labor-intensive endeavor. How does one weave critical analysis into coursework? How can one center marginalized voices and perspectives in the classroom? When balancing competing demands and the constraints of a curriculum, how does one create space to experiment?

Addressing these questions can be a solitary pursuit. Adjuncts and GTFs rarely have opportunity to share, discuss and collaborate with other educators interested in developing a socially conscious pedagogy. We invite applications for up to five graduate student instructors to participate in a collaborative multimedia project that will help other educators who are interested in developing their own socially conscious pedagogy. Participants will come together to discuss how they have developed their teaching practices, and will produce an artifact to share with the GC community that captures their insights and presents some of the lessons they’ve learned.

Student Data and Open Digital Pedagogy
Facilitated by Andy McKinney, Sociology

In the current political climate, the security of student data has become an increasingly urgent concern for pedagogues using digital tools. Whether you use the proprietary platforms bought and supported by university IT or you utilize open source tools to practice open digital pedagogy it is worth asking yourself some basic questions. Who has access to the data produced from student activity on these tools and platforms? Where does that data live? What kind of data are we collecting? What is the role of a teaching and learning platform in both the maintenance of anonymity for students and the development of their digital identity as they move forward in life?

These types of question should be on the minds of all educators as not only questions for pedagogical practice but for the everyday lives of ourselves and our students.

We invite applicants to participate in a focused inquiry group that will explore these questions together and to generate a document that will be shared with educators throughout CUNY and beyond. We ultimately aim to help college teachers and students better understand and more smartly navigate the privacy implications of the digital tools and platforms they use while practicing open digital pedagogy.

Teaching as an International Student
Facilitated by Anke Geertsma, Comparative Literature

International graduate students and faculty often don’t know what to expect when they first step into the CUNY classroom. They might have questions about their students’ lives and cultural and academic backgrounds, and about the American university system in general and CUNY more specifically. They might be unsure about how to interact with students in the classroom or during office hours or how to give feedback and grade student work. And for many international student teachers, the prospect of teaching as a non-native speaker of English is a daunting one.

Following a heavily attended workshop on Teaching as an International Student, the Teaching and Learning Center invites international students at the Graduate Center to participate in a Focused Inquiry Group (FIG) that asks what it is like to teach at CUNY as an international student. We’ll address issues such as curriculum, classroom culture, language, and strategies for discussion.

We will work together to launch a site on the CUNY Academic Commons that will serve as a resource for current and future international student teachers. We will locate, curate, and annotate a list of resources that will helpful to international students as they prepare to navigate or refine their practices in the CUNY classroom.

To Apply
To apply to participate in a FIG, please submit the following materials as a single PDF to by Wednesday, March 15 with a subject line indicating to which FIG you are applying. Please name your PDF attachment accordingly:


  • Applications must contain:
    Applicant Information: name, program at the GC, contact information (email, mailing address, and phone number). Applicants must be a doctoral student currently enrolled and in good academic standing at the Graduate Center.
  • A statement of interest in the selected FIG (no longer than 250 words)
  • A short CV (no longer than two pages)

Criteria for Evaluation
Applications will be evaluated based upon clarity and specificity of the statement of interest.

Questions about the FIGs should be directed accordingly:

Developing a Responsive and Socially Conscious Pedagogy
Sakina Laksimi-Morrow,

Data Security and Open Digital Pedagogy
Andrew McKinney,

Teaching as an International Student
Anke Geertsma,

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