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CCA@CCA Courses

Last updated on Dec 16, 2022

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 2023


Neeraj Bhatia
ARCHT-5800-1: UR: Urban & Landscape Elect: Forming Life in Common
MARCH-6800-1: UR: Urban & Landscape Elect: Forming Life in Common

“The only indispensable material factor in the generation of power is the living together of people. Only where men live so close together that the potentialities of action are always present can power remain with them....“

—Hannah Arendt, The Human ConditionLiving Together is an act of politics through the collective shaping everyday life. In recent years, communal living has gained widespread attention for its potential to address the affordability crisis in highly desirable urban centers. While media accounts of this domestic typology typically describe it for its economic efficiency—incorporating it into simplistic narratives about gentrification and rising rents—this ‘necessity-oriented’ explanation of communal residences misses the breadth of motivations and manifestations of intentional communities, from socio-political values to professional networking and life-style affinities. The notion of living together is not new to San Francisco. In fact, during the 1960s, San Francisco became a critical hub for the development of communes. The commune acted as a space for experimentation—of alternative politics, lifestyles, and an attempt to go beyond the nuclear family. These spaces sought to more precisely curate a way of living that existed outside of the system. Against this backdrop that has shaped the city, communal living is once again having a resurgence. Within a culture of the declining significance of the nuclear family, communal living has offered meaningful social units and institutions of care, culture, values, community and support. Not only has living together embraced a larger range of users, through sharing resources, these spaces inherently build a domestic commons and offer a higher quality of social life. In parallel, contemporary modes of communal living have expanded from communes to include new experiments in co-living, hacker hostels, timeshared spaces, etc. Forming Life In Common is a seminar that examines the histories and theories of how people have lived collectively—linking the physical form, underlying protocols of land tenure and ownership, and questions of governance. Centered on the political negotiations required to live together, the seminar will unpack how different experiments in commoning, sharing, caring, maintaining, and forming life together might provide lessons for a more collectivized future wherein precarious individuals find solidarity and power.

James Graham
MARCH-6260-1: Grad Wide Elective: Air Conditions
GELCT-6600-1: MARCH: Grad Wide Elective: Air Conditions

In classical physics, air was often described as a “medium,” a transmitter of light and heat. While this usage might sound antiquated, our own epoch of climate crisis might ask us to reclaim it for the present day. What does it mean to think of our atmosphere as media? How might air be read and written? How does air become knowable, from the individual scale to the planetary? What are the ways in which atmosphere is measured, felt, distributed, predicted, controlled, weaponized, monetized, designed, represented? What are the political, cultural, and spatial ramifications of breath, weather, pollution, heat, and carbon?

Each week, we will read a different author who offers a particular vantage point on these questions, with a focus on recent literature but also including historical touchstones (of theory, of art history, and of fiction). We will visit the laboratories of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and we will make zoom visits to pertinent library and museum collections. We will also host a series of architects and artists to discuss their work that engages atmosphere. Each student will undertake a research project—which will take written form at the midpoint of the semester, and creative form at the end of the semester—that proposes some way in which air can be (or has been) revealed, documented, and archived. As a grad-wide elective, my hope is that our collective research will cross-pollinate across mediums (art, design, drawing, film, text), and—if we’re feeling up for it when it’s all said and done—we will conclude the semester with an informal group show

Critical Ethnic Studies

Melinda de Jesus
ETHSM-2000-3: A History of US People of Color

This course is an introduction to Critical Ethnic Studies that will survey selected historical moments in order to explore the complexities of life in the United States. Analyzing the entangled histories of colonialism, slavery, imperialism, racism, disenfranchisement, and labor, we will examine how different peoples become "American." We will focus on the racialization of American Indians, African Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, and Asian Americans with regard to conceptions of identity and citizenship across multiple categories of difference including gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. We will delve specifically into the histories of Oakland's communities of color, and study their stories of resistance, struggle, and triumph.

Gaia Ellen WXYZ
ETHST-2000-8: Using Your Voice: Interrupting Power

This course introduces students to the praxis of art and design belonging to communities of color inside and outside of the United States. Artists, designers, architects, and writers will use comparative and relational approaches to making while respecting the distinct experiences of different communities. At the professor's discretion, students immerse themselves in local and/or global cultural dimensions of expression and produce multi-faceted works that interrupt colonial narratives. Students will engage with community stakeholders and are challenged to approach complex problems from their respective disciplines.

Ajuan Mance
ETHST-2000-6: Make It Queer

This rigorous studio class will create works with LGBTQIA+ themes with an emphasis on cultural literacy, social responsibility, and conceptual problem-solving. We will create deeply personal images that tell a story - and seek connections between our world and the next.What does the future hold for us? Can it be beautiful? How can we create images powerful enough to create a bright future for everyone? For whom does this kind of freedom exist?Though readings and films will be recommended and queer art herstory will be examined (and critiqued), the focus here is on making. Each artist will be called upon to not only create a set of artworks but will be asked to present a solid concept, research, and writings in support of each illustrated work. Possibilities include: theater sets, paintings, drawings, costumes, posters, zines, mural designs, pop-up books, comics, and 3-D objects. Everyone is welcome here.

Stephanie Sherman
ETHSM-2000-10: Non Conforming: Disability and the Arts

How and why have some human bodies and minds been regarded as incompatible with full participation in social-cultural life or competent citizenship? Through wide-ranging readings, screenings, conversations, writing and creative work this hybrid seminar with studio practice elements, we will explore and unsettle societal constructions of ability and disability. Placing focus on the arts and visual culture, we’ll consider such questions as, which bodies and minds have access to representation, education, reception and creative work itself? How are our habits of both looking and making conditioned by norms of ableism and associated qualities including “skill,” “stamina,” “beauty” and “criticality”? We will examine deep intersections between disability justice and social struggles in the areas of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class; as well as urgent issues of the environment, labor, and poverty. For help engaging these themes, we’ll delve into practices of artists and designers, who take them on with passion, humor, irony and radical imagination from within the lived experience of disability. Underlying our work this semester is a challenge raised by artists with disabilities and cultural workers to understand disability not simply as a form of living to be accommodated by normative, so-called abled-bodied society , but an embodied form of knowledge offering unique insights into the vast diversity of body-minds inhabiting the world, including our own.

Shalini Agrawal
ETHST-3000-3: Radical Redesign

Decolonizing design and architecture practices starts with understanding the roots and steadfast legacy of colonization to resurface narratives that have been hidden, erased and forgotten. We can disrupt our biases and blindspots towards anti-racism and decoloniality by taking time to learn about forgotten history, and reflect on the unreconciled impacts of colonization. How might we acknowledge the injustices, colonial practices and racism in design and architecture, and acknowledge the resulting long lasting and harmful impacts? This studio begins by identifying areas of Radical Redesign within the traditional design process starting with researching colonization and its correlation with issues of diversity, identity, race, gender and culture. Building on this knowledge, we identify and confront our personal biases that have maintained systems of dominance, while challenging formulaic design processes. Moving from individualism, perfectionism and urgency, we prioritize non-Western methods of knowing, doing with the goal of defining and achieving personal translations of belonging, care and healing. We reexamine traditional design processes and propose new methods of designing with, instead of for, positioning ourselves as agents of care with traditional design processes.

Critical Studies

Ginger Mueller-Testerman
CRTSD-1500-8: FiCS: Identity at the Crossroads

Through research, writing, and discussion, this course examines the nature of identity from multiple perspectives. Course topics will range from understanding aspects of gender, racial, and sexual identity-making, social forces, and power dynamics. We will use the metaphor of crossroads to bring different points of view from scholarly voices in the field of humanities studies to help develop nuanced and greater understanding to core aspects of our lived experiences. During this course we will examine a wide range of writing that draws extensively from feminist, anti-racist, and indigenous perspectives to explore the multitude of ways that identity takes shape in society. Our work at the crossroads serves to expand conceptualizations and to create a space of greater understanding.


Marc O'Brien
DESGN-6704-1: Climate Designers

Mary Ellen Hannibal
DESGN-6720-4: DC Topic: Citizen Science in the Anthropocene

This class will introduce the basic concepts of citizen science and the Anthropocene. Citizen science allows regular people to contribute to scientific research. It is a meaningful way to face challenges in our time of global change, the Anthropocene. The class will introduce both concepts with a strong focus on biodiversity loss, including imperial and colonial causes. It will explore change over time through storytelling, history, and data. As we re-orient ourselves to a strange new world we will also help other life forms survive it. In addition to regular assignments, students will be required to make weekly biodiversity observations using the online tool iNaturalist

Graduate Wide Elective

Sofia Cordova
GELCT-6340-3: Film: Grad Wide Electives: Precarious Arrangements

In this course, students will create time-based projects (for example, Video/ Film/ Performance/Sound/ etc.) based on concepts that push beyond traditional modes of storytelling, writing, and narrative. Through a series of experiments, students will produce speculative fiction, sci-fi, or experimental works in order to engage new and complex modes of thinking and work towards the expression of ideas that are meaningful and important to them. Students will be exposed to science fictional works - in film and literature - as well as brief detours into histories of experimentation with an emphasis on Bay Area experimental sound and film. Within these, we will pay special attention to voices that use time-based media and literature as part of a larger political confrontation with the trappings of gender, class, and race. This class is open to film students as well as fine art students as this class will emphasize how artist cinema/video/performance/installation and film can not only co-exist but have much to gain from learning from one another.

History of Art and Visual Culture

Cindy Bello
HAAVC-2000-5: Feminist Art

This course explores the intersection of art, visual culture, and feminist theory from U.S. and global south contexts, paying close attention to how the interventions of women of color in the U.S. and feminists in non-U.S. locations have radically (re)imagined feminist politics over the past 30 years. We will consider the role of media and visual culture in formations of gender, sexuality, and relations of power, and examine feminist approaches to art and activism that have emerged to address contemporary gendered inequalities. Readings and works to be discussed will emphasize transnational conversations and phenomena, not merely to critique and de-center the centrality of Euro-U.S. feminist dialogues, but to underscore the historical links between different forms of feminist movements across the globe. Coursework and class discussions will focus on developing our understanding of the dynamic relation of feminist art, activism, and knowledge production to debates around such topics as migration, militarization, labor, imperialism, mass imprisonment, and human rights. Artists to be discussed include Emily Jacir, Mona Hatoum, Tania Bruguera, Regina Jose Galindo, Zanele Muholi, Wu Mali, and Hung Liu, among others.HAAVC 2000 courses develop students' visual analysis skills while providing the opportunity for in-depth study of the visual/structural artifacts associated with a particular topic, region, or movement. Students will also engage with the relevant primary/secondary literature for the topic at hand. Courses will pay particular attention to the larger cultural, historical, and theoretical/ideological contexts in which the visual artifacts and structures under consideration were created.

Philosophy and Critical Theory

Rebekah L. Edwards
PHCRT-2000-5: Disabled Imaginaries and Speculative Care

What do we mean when we say “disability”? Who is considered “normal”? As Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha asks in The Future is Disabled, what if in the near future, the majority of people will be disabled - and what if that's not a bad thing? What if disability justice and disabled wisdom are crucial to surviving the crisis of global conditions we currently face? What is post-apocalyptic crip-futurity? How do we imagine ourselves in it - with joy?

Our class introduces Disability Studies through the work of contemporary disabled-identified artists, activists, and philosophers who use speculative imaginaries to critique current and historic formulations of disability, exposing how such formulations have constructed a normal/disabled binary through intersections of ableism, racism, and (cis)sexism, and imagining instead, radically-inclusive futures in which all our social identities “are understood as interdependent and intertwined.” Crip-futurity draws on the collective knowledge of disabled people to speculate a more just, creative, and sustainable social architecture. We will study essays, manifestos, science fiction, and memoir alongside 2D, 3D, and 4D work by disabled-identified artists/theorists. We will engage with this work through discussions, critical writing, and small creative projects.

Michael Washington
PHCRT-2000-8: Afro-Futurisms

Through associations with technoscience 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.Philosophy and Critical Theory (PHCRT) courses focus on developing critical reading and thinking skills, with an emphasis on learning to frame and explore meaningful questions. Students consider multiple perspectives and claims in the process of formulating independent, well-founded opinions.

Social Science and History

Amy Sims
SSHIS-2000-7: Revolutions

Revolution, Resistance, Rebellion, Reform! All are paths taken to demonstrate opposition to existing conditions, but revolution is the collective action that aims at the most drastic change. Originally an astronomical term, what does revolution currently mean? What are the motivations for revolutionary political change? What role do ideas and ideology play? What transforms individual anger into revolutionary process? How is it sustained against counter-mobilizing forces? Why do people risk their lives to participate in revolution? What is the measure of a successful revolution? Why do some succeed and others fail? Are revolutions necessarily violent or can there be nonviolent revolutions? In this course, we will begin by examining the classic examples of the American, French, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions (the models that have inspired other revolutions), as well as the Haitian Revolution (the most successful slave revolution). We then move on to consider some major contemporary revolutions in non-western societies. Are their essential features similar or unique? We will analyze theories about causes, events, outcomes and processes. Are there factors and theories that consistently and adequately explain revolutions?

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.Social Science and History (SSHIS) courses develop students' critical thinking skills through the study of history and the social sciences (e.g. sociology, psychology, economics, political science, anthropology, geography), as well as through contemporary interdisciplines that draw heavily on these fields (e.g. feminist and queer studies, media studies, urban studies, ethnic studies). Subject matter in these courses contributes to students' cultural literacy while instructional materials and classroom assignments introduce basic research problems and techniques.

Lydia Nakashima Dagarrod
SSHIS-3000-3: 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. Social Science and History (SSHIS) courses develop students' critical thinking skills through the study of history and the social sciences (e.g. sociology, psychology, economics, political science, anthropology, geography), as well as through contemporary interdisciplines that draw heavily on these fields (e.g. feminist and queer studies, media studies, urban studies, ethnic studies). Subject matter in these courses contributes to students' cultural literacy while instructional materials and classroom assignments introduce basic research problems and techniques.

Upper Level Interdisciplinary Studio

John de Fazio
UDIST-3000-1: Queer Super Objects

Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studios extend a student's cross-school experience from Core Studio up into their upper division years. 3 units of Interdisciplinary Studio are required of all majors and must be completed in the junior or senior year. This advanced level studio is thematic in nature. Technical demonstrations are paired with thoughtful readings, seminar discussions and ambitious projects. Collaboration, experimentation and presentation skills are developed in concert with critical thinking.Section DescriptionThis topic based course “Queer Super Objects” explores the evolving history of LGBTQ+ iconography translated into physical forms. The Rainbow Flag designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, commissioned by Harvey Milk, is a prime example of a group idea that crossed mediums in forms of graphics, jewelry, fashion, ceramics and public art. Inventing a visual language to symbolize counter-cultural identity was an artist driven responsibility since the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The Names Project Aids Quilt still involves thousands of participants sewing memorial quilts to exhibit in public spaces like the Mall in Washington DC. Inter-disciplinary projects will address Queer Representation with assignments to design and fabricate an inclusive platform for non-conformists.Technical demos and in-person workshops will focus on mixed media approaches for making prototypes, molds and casting editions using both traditional materials and recycled objects. Asynchronous 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 a 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.

Ana Llorente and Michael Washington
UDIST-3000-3: Design as a Worlding Practice

Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studios extend a student's cross-school experience from Core Studio up into their upper division years. 3 units of Interdisciplinary Studio are required of all majors and must be completed in the junior or senior year. This advanced level studio is thematic in nature. Technical demonstrations are paired with thoughtful readings, seminar discussions and ambitious projects. Collaboration, experimentation and presentation skills are developed in concert with critical thinking.Section Description:In this course, students undertake a cumulative and semester-long project of designing their own country. From their country’s history, to its cultural identities, economic system, and a visual language that represents these elements, students are tasked with designing a new world. Students engage with design as well as a series of readings that oblige them to seriously think about the political implications of their project: cultural politics of race, identity, gender, and nationality. A number of critical questions accompany the course, two of these being: what is the relation between the speculative project of imagining a new world, and expanding our capacity to be critical of the current one we find ourselves in? And what might it mean to think about design as a cultural practice that shapes spaces, ecologies, interspecies entanglements, as well as the stories we tell about who we are in the world?


Devorah Major
WRLIT-2030-2: Writing 2: Seeing Incarceration

Writing 2 continues the work begun in Writing 1 on strengthening students' ability to write, read and discuss at the college level, with emphasis on literary and visual analysis, and research and argumentation skills. The course will revolve around a specific theme selected by the instructor.

Gloria Frym
WRLIT-2100-5: To Have & Have Not: Social Class in Literature

Despite many utopian efforts to the contrary, including the ideals created by the signatories of The Declaration of Independence--the founding document of the American political tradition that articulates fundamental ideas that form the American nation, namely that All men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights--social stratification exists in nearly all human societies. It is a basic organizing principle of culture and functions most overtly in its smallest unit, the family. Why? would be a suitable question for a sociology course; as artists, we will ask How? are social class and class issues portrayed in literature and film. How are the rich and the poor perceived by themselves and one another? How has narrative art dealt with the relationship between class, race, and gender? Is class the great equalizer? In what ways has literature depicted success and failure at upward mobility? What is the role of the “middle” class in narrative art? Texts may include works by Kathryn Boo, Anton Chekhov, Evan Connell, Theodore Dreiser, E.M. Forster, Tupelo Hassman, Jamaica Kinkaid, George Orwell, Dorothy West, Edith Wharton, and various films such as Sullivan’s Travels, Frozen River, Metropolitan, Welcome to the Doll House.

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