Need Help?

Skip to Content

CCA Portal

coursesCCA@CCA Logo_Portal Header Size

CCA@CCA Courses

Last updated on Jun 27, 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.

Fall 2022


ARCHT-5800-2: UR: Living Together

MARCH-6800-1: UR: Living Together

Neeraj Bhatia

Living Together is an act of politics through the collective shaping everyday life... 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. Living Together 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.

Critical Studies

CRTSD-1500-8: The Sound Body Politic

This course is an opportunity to think through the ways common communicative tropes are used to promote paradigms rooted in binary thinking, biological essentialism, white supremacy and heteropatriarchy. As artists, designers, critical thinkers and activists, we will explore our roles in deconstructing, denaturalizing, reclaiming and/or reimagining such tropes in order to build collective cultural narratives rooted in transformative justice. In this course we will explore the following key questions: How do common figures of speech impact the production of social identity (race/class/gender)? In what ways have linguistic tropes (such as “the one drop rule”) naturalized concepts of race, class, gender and national identity? What are the roles of “culture-jamming,” “subvertisement” and “creative hijacking” in the deconstruction of oppressive narratives through creative action? In this course we will explore these questions (and more) as we read and discuss texts from current fields of queer, sonic, and decolonial studies.

Critical Ethnic Studies

ETHST-2000-2: Your Art, Your Impact: Education & Community Development

Amana Harris

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.

ETHST-2000-3: 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. There may be opportunities for select and final mural designs to appear in virtual and/or public spaces.

ETHST-2000-4: Radical Redesign

Shalini Agrawal

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. 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.

ETHST-2000-7: Agitprop: Issues and Causes

ETHST-3000-7: Agitprop: Issues and Causes

Steve Jones

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.

ETHST-3000-2: 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 bends, which address the undercurrent problems related, but not limited to, class gender and ethnicity. Through virtual gallery/studio visits, reviews, online exchanges, and discussions with the members of cultural and artistic Asian American collectives, students will learn a 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.

ETHSM-3000-8: Spirituality as Resistance

Vreni Michelini-Castillo

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.

ETHST-3000-8: Taste of Resistance

Acacia Woods Chan

Food holds the history of our struggles and resilience. But what is the potential of food as a creative material for intervention? This course connects the intersections of food, form, and political action. Through readings by interdisciplinary scholars and hands-on action including Glide Memorial’s 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. The course will culminate in a final project that connects the coursework with each student’s creative practice.

Graduate Design

DESGN-6690-5: DC: Decolonial Ontologies of Design

Michael Washington

The spirit of this class will function like a laboratory, or a space of collective experimentation in which we will think counter-intuitively together about the politics of design, its relation to western colonial modernity, as well as its re-worlding practices. What would it mean to imagine the concept and practice of design as a critical enterprise? As a critical discourse of the contemporary political organization of the world (extractive, extinctionist, anthropocentric)? And how might thinking design from a decolonizing critical standpoint open up new space for re-imagining how the world could be otherwise? These are the questions we are going to engage in the course, and will do so by reconsidering design as a worlding tool: a culture and set of practices and concepts that shape knowledges, ecologies, spaces of relational encounter, as well as ways of being. Which is to say, we are going to think about the political ontology of design: the ways in which design, in its practice and theory, makes worlds and the spaces of interaction in which new worlds might be imagined as possible.

History of Art and Visual Culture

HAAVC-3000-3: Avant-Garde Art and Artists

Thomas O Haakenson

Activists! Agitators! There has never been a better time for avant-garde art, design, writing, and architecture—for creative practices intent on transforming and improving the world through the deployment of unorthodox and innovative ideas. It was the French philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon who in his 1824 book The Artist, the Scientist and the Industrialist introduced the idea of a creative “advanced guard,” a phrase until then associated primarily with the military, to describe the important role artists, designers, writers, and architects must play in imagining and building a better world. Through discussions about a wide range of theories about avant-garde aesthetic practices as well as about case studies of spectacular avant-garde achievements and failures, this course examines the ways in which artists, designers, writers, architects, and other creatives have tried—and sometimes with great success—to change the world.


ILLUS-3600-1: Media History

Ajuan Mance

We will explore how illustrators have used their work to respond to, advance, or resist political, economic, and cultural conditions in their communities and nations. We will explore how illustrators respond to Reconstruction in the U.S., the interwar period in China, the Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, AIDS and HIV activism in the 1980s, and other events and developments.

Philosophy and Critical Theory

PHCRT-2000-3: Ecologies of Belonging

Ignacio Valero

The paradoxical but very hopeful lesson that we are learning at a planetary scale from the convergence of the ‘space age’, climate change, Covid-19, information technology, and the global economy is that we all belong to one vast interconnected socio-ecological system. [In this course, we will study] EcoDomics (building, making, architecture) and the aesthetic(s) of the common(s). Two concepts I envision together as an “art of living and making (in) common(s),” that is, an alternative array of theories and practices that call us to respond to the deeply amoral instrumentalization of the human, non-human, and more-than-human, and invite us to learn how to live in common and how to make and build commons. The aim is to help design and construct worlds of belonging more attuned to life, to develop alternative models of democracy and everyday living, where data are not just tools of surveillance and exploitation for the many and sources of power and super-profits for the very few, but public goods for the benefit of all.

PHCRT-2000-8: Creative Ecologies

Brian Karl

How do humans understand “Nature”? Where do they get their ideas about surviving and thriving in the larger world, and what radical shifts in thinking might be necessary and/or in the making? This course looks at innovative projects by creative thinkers – artists, scientists and activists – who propose novel approaches to environmental issues in practical and often paradigm-shifting terms. Students are asked to research on others’ creative projects addressing concerns of sustainability and the environment or develop their own addressing environment. The class also investigates thinking from eco-feminist, indigenous and other critical voices concerned with how people through cultural habits and attitudes “treat” all kinds of nature, including their own by-products and waste that have become second nature -- from housing developments and radioactive nuclear fallout to human waste.

Social Science and History

ETHSM-3000-9: ‘Tryin’ to get Free’: Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

SSHIS-3000-7: 'Tryin' to Get Free': Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

Rekia Jibrin

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.

SSHIS-2000-2: 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-3000-2: Social Problems

Maxwell Leung

In this course, we will examine issues of crime and deviance, social class and stratification, racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, work and family life, media, consumerism, urban decay, corporate crime, poverty, health care, drug wars, and others through sociological perspectives. Students should gain a better understanding of the structure of society, how we have perceived "social problems" and we have responded accordingly.

Upper Level Interdisciplinary Studio

UDIST-3000-4: Dissonance - Music and Conflict

Taro Hattori

We experience many forms of conflict in our personal, social and political lives. "Dissonance – Music and Conflict" explores how we integrate our experience of conflict in our creative work by applying Musical ideas into our visual art, design and writing practices. We will learn how Music envelops various forms of conflicts and surpasses the impact of the clash, and create in-class, site-specific and socially engaged projects both individually and collaboratively. The interdisciplinary nature of Music lets us research and practice a wide variety of activities including performance, video, sound, multimedia installation, spatial design and public space interventions. Each student is expected to produce projects which are personally rooted and socially connective as Music is. Former musical training is not necessary. Topics include psychology, politics, storytelling, social practice, public space, perception, body, praying and destruction. This class is suited for students in any program of any division at CCA.

UDIST-3000-7: Care in Common(s)

Shalini Agrawal and Julia Grinkrug

In the time of environmental and political instability, there is an urgent need to re-consider the ways we, individually and collectively, care for the environment and its common resources. Can we envision fluid and dynamic relationships that embrace change and adaptability while maintaining collective responsibility and care? In particular, we will examine water - our relationship with-, access to-, and care for- water, the dynamics of flow and its ecologies. The students will engage in a series of interactive experiments that involve interdisciplinary collaboration and discovery science. We will imagine, explore, and prototype water related scenarios at all scales – from molecular and micro-organic, through skin and body, to regional, global and cosmic.Visual and Critical Studies

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