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CCA@CCA Courses

Last updated on Jan 09, 2024

Students: Filter by the "Creative Citizens" course tag in Workday to find and register for the courses listed below.

“Creative Citizens” courses build students' skills in creative activism and civic engagement. Course topics may include social justice, environmental activism, civic or political engagement, activist movements, forms of protest, social practice, community engagement, design activism, and more.

Spring 2024


Julia Grinkrug

ARCHT-3230-1: Design Media 4

ARCHT-3230-2: Design Media 4

This capstone course of the Design Media sequence focuses on "Urban Cultures" – the investigation and visualization of the socio-political, cultural/aesthetic, methodological, material/technological and theoretical underpinnings of exemplary architectural and urban case studies. It uses descriptive, analytical and theoretical precedents to expand students' knowledge of the architectural discipline. The course exposes students to the tools to extract concepts, methods and tools integral to these architectural works and to generate operative strategies for design.

Critical Ethnic Studies

Marcel Pardo Ariza

ETHST-2000-1: Caring Futures: Disruptive Rebellions

What does it mean to prioritize care in your practice? In the face of continued anti-trans discrimination, how can we envision a caring future for all? In this course, we will delve into the concepts of creative forms of protest, disruptive acts of rebellion, and artistic expressions that contribute to a profound understanding of collective care. Throughout the semester, we will examine the intersections of the Trans Liberation and Disability Justice movements, while establishing a strong foundation in the history of revolutionary organizing and rebellions that have propelled our society forward. We will draw insight from the works of various writers, artists, and organizers, including but not limited to Jack Halberstam, Paul B. Preciado, Miss Major, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Susan Stryker, Marquis Bey, Tourmaline, Judith Heumann and Chris Vargas. Additionally, we will explore contemporary art practices that emphasize mutual aid, collective power and a commitment to looking out for each other.

Susanne Cockrell

ETHST-2000-2: Digging in the World: The Garden as Form and Tool

This class will explore the garden as an urban site that integrates subsistence production with the cultivation of ecological literacy, social justice, and regenerative design. Where diversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem, how can artists and designers work with and in gardens as both a form and tool to educate and empower communities, to grow food and create social spaces for gathering, communication and integration. Emphasizing the skills, craft and ethics of sustainable design and "slowness,” students will research how they connect to place, through cultivating presence working in gardens and performance based inquiry.  How does connection to place and land shape the practice of aesthetics and inspire creative experiments and collaborations? What are the conceptual and practical skills needed for developing site specific and socially engaged projects? Looking at a range of local and international gardens as models, we will research how specific cities, schools, neighborhoods, prisons and immigrant communities garden to reorient human economies, to heal, restore and awaken our interdependence with the natural world.

Lydia Nakashima Degarrod

ETHSM-3000-4: Migrants, Exiles, Refugees

The United Nations has reported that globally the number of people displaced due to climatic change, war conflict, persecution, and poverty has surpassed 60 million, larger than the populations of many countries of the world. This anthropological course will examine the roots of these forms of forced migration, the formation of new identities, and the emergent concepts of home and belonging. Of importance will be assessing the environmental factors in creating these forms of forced migration.  

Amana Harris

ETHST-2000-9: Your Art, Your Impact: Education & Community Development

This course takes a new look at community based and contemporary art practices from a self-exploratory, education, social justice and civic engagement lens. We will investigate values, ethics and self-development concepts; explore education from a historical and present day context; learn about activist artists; and infuse all of these concepts to inform and push the boundaries of your own art practice. Art that incorporates spiritual and ethical renewal, as well as social responsiveness and environmental transformation is a primary focus as we investigate methods employed by a growing movement of activist artists. Students will work in the ways they are accustomed to as studio artists, while also developing arts projects that address local social and environmental concerns.

Taraneh Hemami

ETHST-3000-1: Mapping Change

MAPPING CHANGE explores the intersections of art and cartography while examining the cultural, social, and political dimensions of mapmaking. Students work towards creating a collective interdisciplinary map of change within the neighborhoods they have called home, navigating how these narratives have continued to shape and inform their identities and define their positions within a global context. Investigating a broad range of systemic challenges including displacement, gentrification, pollution, inequity, healthcare, cultural identity and community, each student creates a literal or conceptual map that interweaves histories of the land with layered stories of its people. 

Steve Jones

ETHST-3000-2: Agitprop: Issues and Causes

agitprop | ˈajətˌpräp | noun - political (originally communist) propaganda, especially in art or literature: [as modifier] : agitprop painters.Origin - 1930s: Russian, blend of agitatsiya ‘agitation’ and propaganda. Agitprop, “agitation” and “propaganda,” is political (originally communist) propaganda, especially in art or literature. Propaganda involves persuasive strategies, but is different than persuasion in its intended outcome. A graphic design approach to propaganda will involve an examination of the relationship of message to context, focusing on the intentionality and responses of an audience, and lead to an understanding of propaganda as a communication process. This course will explore the history of propaganda from the mid 19th century to its modern day manifestation in American/global politics. Each student will have an opportunity to explore her/his individual values to establish a theme for a campaign and attempt to persuade a targeted audience through several class assignments.

Jack Leamy

ETHST-2000-7: Mural Project

This course explores murals as public living spaces, visual geographical multi-layered zones for political activism, social/cultural awareness and aesthetic advancement. Starting with the early 1930’s to the present, we will look at murals as sources of meaning and forms of social justice activism. We ask, what is the role of mural art as it is displayed strategically in public spaces? Where does public space become available and to whom? Who claims public spaces and how? How do we define public space and who has the authority to have a voice and be heard in the public realm? Students will be asked to work collaboratively, choose a space to create a virtual mural design, make claims and defend them through writing exercises, research, and design. There may be opportunities for select and final mural designs to appear in virtual and/or public spaces.

Maxwell Leung

ETHSM-3000-3: Contemporary Asian American Issues

This course provides an in-depth exploration of the contemporary issues impacting Asian American communities, with a focus on the intersections of race, gender, class, and national identity. Through a critical examination of scholarly articles, policy documents, and primary sources, students will engage with topics such as immigration and naturalization policies, racial profiling and hate crimes, political participation and representation, and the complexities of cultural identity. The course will also delve into the heterogeneity within Asian American communities, highlighting the unique challenges faced by different ethnic subgroups. Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, the course aims to equip students with the analytical tools necessary to critically assess the systemic structures that impact Asian American communities and to engage in meaningful dialogue about community building, social justice, and multi-racial alliances.

Vreni Michelini-Castillo

ETHSM-2000-5: Spirituality as Resistance

In this course we will learn about the significance of spirituality through the legacy of ancestral societies, the freedom struggles of BIPOC, and the power of diasporic people. We will delve into the philosophies and practices that shaped the formation of spirituality since time immemorial; closely examining the cyclical context of these sensibilities prior to and after the apocalypse of 1492. We will collectively analyze the impact of the last 500+ years of imposed colonial forces using critical race theory, intersectionality and decoloniality. Simultaneously we will celebrate and put into practice ancestral wisdom—passed down, safeguarded despite genocide, ecocide, censorship, enslavement, displacement and forced assimilation. Our course has twin components, theory and embodiment, through which we will reflect and act on the importance of ritual, of remembrance and of gratitude within liberatory movements and within our lives. Our focus for this course will be the autonomies sprouting and permeating, despite the power configurations of nation/states and transnational corporations, in Turtle Island, Anahuac, Abya Yala (Americas) and beyond.This course requires rigorous interdisciplinary study of ourselves, ancestral lineage, red medicine, art, astronomy, archeology, art history, biology and traditional ecological knowledge.

Stephanie Sherman
ETHSM-2000-7: Collective Practices and Resistance

This course introduces students to the historical and theoretical foundations of Collective Practices + Resistance across disciplines and is designed for those interested in understanding the complex dynamics that drive societal change, with a strong focus on local Bay Area artivist movements and legacies. Students investigate the historical, social, political, and aesthetic forces, including class, status, power, and mobility that create resilience in nature, culture, and society through art and design. Through assigned texts, site visits, and writing assignments, students develop the critical thinking skills and knowledge necessary to explore arguments and practices that shape current debates regarding ethics of cultural production and engagement, including those practices that imagine new social relationships amongst artists, designers, writers, architects, urban planners, curators, and community organizers.

Rickey Vincent

ETHSM-3000-2: The Black Panthers and Popular Culture

This course explores the rise of Black Power as a social movement in the 1960s with a focus on the Oakland-based Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.  The course emphasizes the cultural dimension of the movement, involving identity formation, expressive arts and ideological growth alongside community action and outreach efforts.Critical Ethnic Studies 3000-level seminars deepen students’ knowledge of the fundamental theoretical and political questions regarding the social construction of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class from both domestic and global perspectives. The seminars utilize decolonial, transnational and intersectional approaches for producing knowledge about resistance, power, oppression, and systems of knowledge from the interdisciplinary fields of critical ethnic studies: Africana studies, African-American Studies, Asian American studies, Indigenous studies, Chicano/a /x and Latino /a/x studies, Women’ studies, border studies, cultural studies, and global racialized and global silenced communities.

Mandisa Wood

ETHSM-3000-1: ‘Tryin’ to get Free’: Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

SSHIS-3000-1: 'Tryin’ to get Free’: Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

Representation, equity, diversity, and inclusion are all words that characterize contemporary perspectives on racial, gender, economic, and other forms of social justice. Cutting across all justice-oriented movements is another keyword: intersectionality. Many identify as having an intersectional approach, but not everyone shares an understanding of what the term means, its historical origins, and present-day debates about it. By the end of this course, students will develop deeper historical, philosophical and political literacies of diversity and inclusion through the lens of intersectionality. While this course is structured by historical, theoretical, and philosophical texts produced by peoples in struggle globally, it centers how Black women have engaged such thinking, transnationally. By the end of this course, students will develop representational pieces that situate their own evolving relationship to intersectionality historically.

Critical Studies

Rebekah Edwards

CRTSD-1500-1: FICS: Reorientations

What does it mean to be oriented in any given direction? Why and how do people change their points of view? What happens when we shift our relationships to existing aesthetic, political, personal, and cultural structures? This course draws heavily on postcolonial, anti-racist and indigenous perspectives as we explore the many ways re-orienting lets us re-think, re-see, and re-make our world. This course will be both discussion and project based, with the opportunity to explore (and share) different places, neighborhoods, & curated spaces; different geo-located and virtual environments; creative-critical projects and points of view. 


Michael Wertz

ILLUS-2110: Tools: Illustrated Poster

This comprehensive and rigorous studio class will design and produce a set of hand made screen printed posters, blending image and typography to communicate ideas, events or political causes. This studio will be a crash-course in illustrated poster design as well as a complete introduction to the screen printing process. Students will develop Photoshop, Illustrator and screen printing skills, including both hand created film separations of colors as well as digital film output through the Digital Fine Arts Studio. The focus of this class will be hands-on experience and studio time, rather than a History of the Printed Poster. Additional outside studio time will be required to complete the assigned poster projects.

Interaction Design

Larissa Erin Greer and Jess Wen

IXDSN-3300: Professional Practices

This course supports designers as they prepare for the transition from student to professional practitioner. Special attention is placed on creating an effective portfolio, effective presenting and interviewing techniques, and building a professional network. Projects generally include: creating a personal online presence with case studies and sample work; using social media as a networking tool for connecting with contacts and advisors; IxD skills assessment (self and professional designers); and identifying skill, career, market, and industry opportunities to help plan for career growth and evolution. By focusing on their professional practice, students develop greater confidence in their work, are better equipped to leverage their skills & interests, and increase their enjoyment of all their processes.This course is integrated with the IxD Junior Review process, which provides students with feedback on their work from working professionals and helps the student identify areas of growth in their interaction design knowledge, process, and craft.

Philosophy and Critical Theory

Michael Washington

PHCRT-2000-1: Afro-futurisms

Through associations with techno-science and digital culture, science fiction, space travel and extra-terrestrial life, we tend to think of “futurism” in terms that are light years away from the present, as a time to come that will have no relation with the past (critical or otherwise). Contrary to this linear sense of historical development however, Afro-futurism has emerged, over the past thirty years, as an alternative critical practice that time travels, journeying from the past to present in order to use the history of black diasporic culture in the aim of thinking the present as well as imagining new futures that have yet to arrive. Taking our cue from Samuel Delaney, for whom science fiction, if anything, functions as a “means through which to re-program the present,” in this course we will go in search of the radical visions and anticipatory political imaginaries of a range of afrofuturists (Samuel Delany, John Akomfrah, Octavia Butler, Harriet Jacobs, among others) who, through their aesthetic practice, open up new ways of seeing and imagining new futures for black liberation.

Social Science and History

Huma Dar

SSHIS-3000-3: Decolonial Museums

What is a Museum? In Greek mythology, it referred to a temple dedicated to the muses, the divinities of the arts. Later, it connoted a “contact zone” or asymmetrical space of encounter. Colonialism involved theft and usurpation of heritage from the colonized world into the spectacular collections at the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Scholars argue for the return of art and heritage to formerly colonized sub-Saharan Africa given that approximately 90% of cultural heritage from that region is held in Western collections. Decolonization calls for the repatriation (or rematriation) of Indigenous land and life. It is not a "metaphor for other things." Decolonizing museums is a form of “curatorial activism” that reimagines museums where we see artifacts and objects in their original lands and we are educated about the colonial histories of the same. In this reimagining, constituencies of colonized, racialized, and gendered artists are no longer ghettoized. The oppressed claim their own narratives and histories, and reclaim Indigenous life and land. The idea of the museum itself is put on trial. In this course, we will excavate silenced and colonized knowledges. We will study not just the theoretical underpinnings of Decolonizing Museums, but will also undertake two active case studies, one of which will be your final project for the class.

Melinda De Jesus

SSHIS-2000-1: Girl Culture

What does it mean to be a girl today? What is “girl culture”? This course, an overview of the emerging field of “girls’ studies” employs an interdisciplinary, intersectional feminist lens to explore the construction and meaning of girlhood in contemporary American culture, and emphasizes the following themes: identity formation and development, socialization, education and equity, sexuality, body consciousness and self-esteem, media representation, consumerism, agency and activism, and cultural production.

Maxwell Leung

SSHIS-2000-2: Culture and Politics of San Francisco

From gold miners in 1849 who dreamt of riches, the Gay and Lesbian community in the Castro in the 1980s, to our current tech overlords dominating our social cityscape, the popular image of San Francisco has been humble, colorful, provocative, and tragic. In this course, we will explore topics to trace the adventurous and provocative history of The City.  We also use primary sources including oral history, art, film, newspaper articles, and photographs to examine the rise of various communities around The City. Emphasizing digital history and writing for a public audience, this course will ask students to research and write like historians, producing historical content to share online about the history of San Francisco. The goal of this class is to generate a digital history project that creates and organizes content for the public about a story that you create to tell to the public.

Science and Math

Elizabeth Travelslight

SCIMA-2000-2: Feeling the Heat: Fire and Entropy

As carbon emissions continue to raise our global average temperature and stress biological and ecological systems, we are experiencing heat in historically unprecedented ways. Starting with the laws of thermodynamics, students in this course will explore phenomena associated with heat such as fire, entropy, inflammation, and transformation. Alongside the traditional skills of the scientific method (including observation, experimentation, reasoning, interpretation, and modeling), students will investigate the social and environmental impacts of climate change including wildfires, heat waves, rising seas, migration, and inequality. Students will learn to recognize and interpret meaningful patterns of information; to assess the validity of empirical claims, distinguishing between opinion and fact; and to understand the sociocultural relevance of scientific and mathematical thinking. Throughout the term we will also consider the importance of indigenous knowledge and explore creative solutions to the problems at hand.


Anne Wolf

TEXTL-2500-1: Handwork Level 2: Narrative Stitches

TEXTL-3500-1: Handwork Level 3: Narrative Stitches

Narrative Stitches mines the pictographic and linguistic vernaculars that have long been used in embroidery and are now finding new artistic currency. Using the rich history of narrative stitching from diverse historical and cultural arenas as points of reference, students craft contemporary works with needle and thread expressing personal, commemorative, fictional, or socio-political themes. The concept of narrative implicitly contains both the expressive and receptive; therefore this class will be an inquiry into both telling and listening. What stories might emerge when we pay attention? What stories are held in silence? Students will consider a wide range of storytelling strategies from oral traditions to fiction, poetry, and lyrics using embroidery, applique, and other stitch-based techniques

Upper Level Interdisciplinary Studio

Lucia Fagen-DeLuca

UDIST-3000: Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio

This course focuses on the haptic, aka touch. How can we as artists revel in the sensation of making art and transmit that textural joy to an audience? We will explore modes of making art that begs to be touched. Demos and art historical examples will give students the opportunity to work in dialogue with times and places of their choosing to produce “texture”. Together we will define and redefine texture in and out of text, word, and image and on the threshold of 2-D and 3-D. This course is about how we can surpass textual learning multi-modally in multiple languages. The tactile becomes a tactical source of pleasure and joy in the face of disability as we make art not just to survive but to thrive.

Christopher Treggiari

UDIST-3000-5: The American Dream

“The American Dream” class is an interdisciplinary class that combines 4D principles and techniques with design thinking, fine arts, and critical thinking. Utilizing research, interviews, and production, “The American Dream” class will explore the concept and reality of the American dream, while uncovering the forces, systems, and barriers that exist when looking at this concept. The “American Dream” class will study the history and impact of the American Dream on marginalized groups. We will analyze data and statistics surrounding what it takes to be successful and live the American Dream. Ultimately we will question the legitimacy, and existence of the American Dream. “The American Dream” class will work in collaboration with external community partners who will be identified per semester. The partner collaborations combined with the CCA students will strive to uncover the reality of the American dream on their own lives and their families lives.

John de Fazio

UDIST-3000-3: Queer Super Objects

“Queer Super Objects” explores the evolving history of how LGBTQ+ iconography is translated into physical forms. The Rainbow Flag designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978 is a prime example of a group idea that crossed mediums and is now regularly seen in graphics, jewelry, fashion, ceramics and public art. Inventing a visual language to symbolize counter-cultural identity has been an artist driven responsibility since the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The Names Project Aids Quilt still involves thousands of participants sewing memorial quilt blocks to be exhibited in public spaces like The Mall in Washington DC. IWe'll think about queer representation with assignments to design and fabricate an inclusive platform for non-conformists.Technical demos will focus on approaches for making clay prototypes, plaster molds and casting editions using ceramic materials in an innovative way. Research will include readings, documentary films and Pop Culture updates. Weekly slide lectures on Out Queer Artists since the 1890’s, (Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt as starting points) will explore the decade by decade cultural breakthroughs in Art and Politics to inform a sense of Queer History. A final collaborative project will engage students to integrate their personal creativity into a tangible monument marking 50+ years of Queerness with a new generation’s concerns.

Browse courses offered during the Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, and Fall 2023 semesters that built students' skills in creative activism and civic engagement