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CCA@CCA Courses

Last updated on Apr 05, 2021

We invite faculty to nominate upcoming fall 2021 courses for inclusion in this growing list of "Creative Citizens in Action"–recommended courses. This list is intended to help students, fellow faculty, and staff discover course sections that will build skills in creative activism and civic engagement. The larger, longer-term goal of Creative Citizens in Action is to amplify and support the work that's being done at CCA related to these topics. If you believe your course section should be listed as a “Creative Citizens” course, please fill out this simple google form.

“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.

Fall 2021

Community Arts

COMAR-1000-1: Introduction to Community Arts

Aaron Gach

In this course, students of all majors are encouraged to activate their skills and interests to make work in, with, and for the communities they care about.  Now more than ever, creative voices are needed within our various communities to uplift, inspire, challenge, inform, support, collaborate, activate, and amaze one another. Whether you define "community" as your local neighborhood, a shared identity, an online group, a common cause, or something else altogether, this course is designed to give you the history, skills, and experience to create socially-engaged artwork in various public arenas. Through an interdisciplinary, hybrid approach utilizing deeply engaged in-person and remote meeting forms, students will be introduced to several artists and organizations as well as develop projects that respond to their own interests and contexts.

Critical Ethnic Studies

ETHSM-2000-2: Popular Cultures

Lydia Nakashima Degarrod

This course examines the creation of popular cultures and their practices at different historical periods and across cultures. It explores the practice of graffiti and hip hop in the United States, Asia and Latin America; crafts and art as forms of political resistance in Chile and South Africa; clothing as forms of individual expression and cultural resistance such as the zoot suits, punk clothing, and Japanese girls teenager fashion, and the creation of superheroes, their mass appeal, and the appropriation of these characters by ordinary people in Mexico and in the United States. The concept of popular culture will also be examined in relationship to folk art, mass media and global art. In addition issues of race, ethnicity and gender will be examined in association with popular culture.

ETHSM-2000-3: Black Panther Party & Pop Cult

Rickey Vincent

This course will explore the rise of the Oakland, California based Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and the role of the organization in rearticulating the urban narrative of resistance to power in America in the 1960s and 1970s. The course will begin with an analysis of theories of black revolutionary politics, and the works of important leaders such as Malcolm X, Angela Davis and Huey P. Newton; then explore the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party as it impacted the popular consciousness in the US; interspersed by a discussion of the music, film and popular culture that resulted from it. Through this process, students will gain an understanding of the significance of symbols and ideas in the representations of African Americans in the context of movements for social change in the US.

ETHSM-2000-4: Spirituality as Resistance

Vreni Michelini-Castillo

In this course we will learn about the significance of spirituality through the voices of people of color, people of the Diasporas. We will delve into the philosophies that shaped the conceptual formation of sacred spaces. Understanding the rising of these sensibilities through a cyclical context: from the loci of various Indigenous roots, the last 527 years of incorporating/shedding imposed colonial forces (Genocide, Christianity, Catholicism, Slavery, Patriarchy, Censorship, Capitalism) and braiding diasporic influences (African, Middle Eastern, Asian, Xicanx, Latinx, forthcoming). Our course has two major components, theory and practice, through which we will reflect and act on the importance of spiritual practices within resistance movements permeating the power configurations of the nation/state in the Americas.

ETHST-2000-4: Mural Art

Amana Harris and Jack Leamy

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.

ETHST-2000-5: Agitprop: Issues and Causes

Steve Jones

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 its earliest origins in the 19th century to its modern day manifestation in American 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.

ETHST-2000-6: Radical Redesign

Shalini Agrawal

This studio will identify areas or opportunities within design processes to radically redesign. Starting with existing systems that serve as universal modes of problem-solving, we will investigate how these systems might be biased and exclusionary. How might we identify our blindspots towards greater inclusion? How might issues of diversity such as race, gender and culture, influence standard design processes? How might we learn from each other’s lived experiences as resources to expand the design process? Through readings and guest speakers, we will investigate those who have historically been excluded from design.

ETHST-2000-7: Taste of Resistance

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik

Food holds the history of our struggles and resilience. But what is the potential of food as an art making material? This course connects the intersections of food, form, and political action. Through readings by interdisciplinary scholars and hands-on action including Feed the Hungry, urban farming, and cooking, we will use food as a lens to decolonize constructions of race, class, and gender. We will also learn about the history of why and how food has been traditionally excluded from the realm of fine art. Coursework includes material investigations, the making of images and objects, creative writing, readings, critiques, and visiting artists. The course will culminate in a final project that connects the coursework with each student's creative practice.

ETHST-3000-1: World Poets of Resistance

Devorah Major

This course will look at how poetry has been used as an act of resistance in various world struggles. Poems by soldiers, revolutionaries, and abolitionists will be studied. Individual poets who used their poetry as an act of resistance will also be studied. The lines between rhetoric, dogma, and art in "social" poetry will be examined. Students will complete two projects that will, in some innovative way bring poetry and resistance to the larger community (e.g. not a traditional poetry audience). One project must be a collaboration, one project will include an interaction with high school students. Course will include a limited poetry writing and reading/performance component.

ETHST-3000-3: Catalyst for Change

Pallavi Sharma

The course investigates how present day Asian American artists are contesting societal assumptions and subverting stereotypes through their socially engaged art practices and participation in local as well as global social movements. The students will create art projects with strong sociological and political bents, which address the undercurrent problems related, but not limited to, class gender and ethnicity.... Students will learn critical and conceptual framework to examine the body of works of selected artists and will learn to understand the strategies of resistance and empowerment movements.

ETHST-3000-6: Citizen Artists/Designers/Journalists

Kim Anno

Students will meet and greet civic leaders and analyze the phenomena of cultural leadership and its potential for impact. We will create art and design projects that function as acts of resistance. As citizen journalists/artists students will document and highlight the texture and power of the shift of power.

ETHSM-3000-7: Globalization and Hip Hop

Rickey Vincent

This course will explore the impact of global capitalism, or "Globalization" on Communities of Color in the United States, and around the world... The multi-ethnic roots of Hip Hop performance practices will be explored, as well as the appropriation of Hip Hop as a resistance culture in locations around the world. In addition to the rise of Hip Hop, three sites of inquiry will be covered in this class: the Anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, which was a worldwide social movement and an early indication of a digitally connected "global consciousness." Secondly, the commercially successful growth and expansion of Hip Hop culture into - and out of - Asia.; finally, the connections between Islam and Hip hop will be examined, as a contiguous example of a globalized youth consciousness throughout the history of hip hop practices, lifestyles and sensibilities.

Graduate Design

DESGN-6690-4: DC: Context: Social Critique

Saraleah Fordyce

This research, discussion, and writing based course examines social critique as a disposition and discourse within design practice. From graphic political activism, to radical challenges to ideology and identity in images, to speculative design; this course looks closely at both critique of, and alternative modes of interaction and living. No matter where art and design fall within that matrix, the goal is not simply to function efficiently but to change lives either in direct material ways or in conceptual ones, by changing the way people think... Topics for the course, chosen at the discretion of the instructor, could include media, the body, ecology, economics, politics, technology, history and other areas that maybe addressed through multiple distinct discursive approaches.

Graduate Fine Arts

FINAR-6040-2: Fine Arts Seminar: Of, By, and With People

GELCT-6500-1: FINAR: Grad Wide Elective: Of, By, and With People

Susanne Cockrell

This seminar is designed for students who want to dive into context, develop a new facet of their work or iterate work they have done looking at their practice through a different lens, or launch new research working in social and public realms. Situated somewhere in the intersection of performance, experimental theater, social practice, mediation, decolonial theory, ritual, interspecies communication, activism, and participatory games is where we will dig in. Through extensive reading, an eye to honing creative-research, critique, written responses, lectures and talks with artists and curator in the field, we will attend to the theory and practices of deep listening and attunement, building equity and transformative justice, collaboration and radical pedagogy.

Philosophy and Critical Theory

PHCRT-2000-9: Sounding Off

Annah Anti-Palindrome

How does sound impact the production of social identity (race/class/gender)? How can sound (or silence) be used as a tool of resistance? Oppression? What is the relationship of sound to human connection, movement building and transformative justice? In this course we will explore these questions (and more) as we read and discuss texts from current fields of cultural, sonic, and sound art studies.

Social Science and History

SSHIS-2000-1: American Politics

Maxwell Leung

This course offers a solid overview of the American political system beginning with studying its foundation and its development over time. The course will analyze the increasingly important role of campaign financing, social media, and other modes of representation in elections in contemporary American politics and how civil society as well as political units such as interest groups, political parties, political action committees (PACs), super PACs, and the media influence the policy making process. The course will introduce how Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court operate, both in theory and in practice, and how they work for, and sometimes fail, the interests of the nation. Through various pedagogical tools, students learn to think analytically and systematically about American politics, and the importance of the study of American government.

SSHIS-3000-5: ‘Tryin’ to get Free’: Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

ETHSM-3000-3: ‘Tryin’ to get Free’: Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

Rekia Jibrin

This course explores critical Black feminist thought. Using an intersectional approach, we will explore a breadth of work produced by and about Black women who too often lose their rightful place as leaders of revolution and struggle. Upon studying the practice and revolutionary politics of women who not only criticized capitalism but also challenged it, what frameworks of analysis do we gain from them that we can use to make sense of our contemporary moment? What limitations do we still face?

SSHIS-3000-6: Social Problems

Maxwell Leung

First, the course reviews the contours of democracy in contemporary political and civic life and asks these questions: What facilitates democratic life? What is civil discourse and its engagement? How do we attend to questions of identity and difference (e.g., gender, class, race, gender identity and expression, religious affiliation, etc.) in democratic practices? How do we address systemic and structural inequalities such as racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, for example? Is voting all that matters? Does democracy mean majority wins all, all the time? What is the role of dissent in a democratic society? Second, as the semester progresses, you will be required to not only interrogate political discourses, but also be asked to reflect upon your own positions and how to situate it in the broader context of local, national, and international discourses.

Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio

UDIST-3000-2: Intersectionality: Labor in the Arts

Vreni Michelini-Castillo

In this lab, we will learn about the intersectional history of labor in the arts. Utilizing Kimberle Crenshaw's theoretical framework, we will examine how colonization affected the formation of art institutions—from its philosophy and modes of operation to present-day labor practices. We will delve through texts and media that analyze how the current power configurations within various fields (visual arts, art history, architecture, design, cinema) create poverty, sustain oppressive mechanisms, deliberately harm sectors of the art community and pollute our environment. Simultaneously, we will come to understand and investigate the importance of counter sensibilities & practices that existed throughout time to the present day and are opening the way for the forthcoming. Our course has two major components, theory and practice, through which we will reflect and act on the importance of an intersectional analysis on labor practices in all art and design disciplines.

Writing and Literature

WRLIT-3200-1: Writing and Activism

Aimee Phan

This literature course will investigate the evolution, diversity and possibilities of activist writing, and how words have the power to upend history and create social change. Activist writing exists in all genres of literature, from children’s picture books and comic books to poetry and spoken word to memoir and adult fiction. We will explore how these writings have significantly shaped public perception of contemporary activist issues such as climate change, Black Lives Matter, the metoo movement, immigration policy, gun violence, and LGBTQ rights.

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