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Spring 2022 CCA@CCA Courses

Last updated on Jun 13, 2022

“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 2022

Critical Studies

CRTSD-1500-9: FICS: Thinking Race, Writing Culture

Michael Washington

What is critique? And how does the practice of critique open up the ways in which we understand culture, race, and identity? In what ways does the artist, writing, making and finding forms for the sensibilities of being human in the world, become critical? Engaging this precise question, James Baldwin, in one of his last interviews, and commenting on the work of Toni Morrison, says that Morrison is very “painful” to read precisely because you “recognize the truth” in her work, and the results are “lethal.” In this class, we are going to think together about what might be “lethal” about the practice of the critique of race and culture. Through an engagement with a number of artists of color who think about the politics of culture in their work, we will sit with a series of questions: In what ways does the imagination function as political enunciation? What is the relation between aesthetic form, critique, and practices of liberation? How does thinking critically about race and culture help us to imagine new forms of relationality and social life?

CRTSD-1500-4: FICS: Public Art as Storytelling

Ann Skartvedt

Humans have communicated through stories since the beginning of time. Shared stories, or what we will call collective narratives, help us understand the world around us, but they also shape that world. We will look at collective narratives in 3 units. Initially, we look at fairy tales, children’s books and popular films to examine how narratives are produced and reproduced in society. In the second unit we examine public monuments, particularly Confederate Monuments in the US, to investigate the ways that they can be used to shape understandings of history and become political. Finally, we explore the responses of artists and activists, like Kara Walker, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Act Up, Ai Weiwei, and others, who use art to challenge and rewrite those narratives.

Critical Ethnic Studies

ETHST-3000-3: 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 blind spots 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.

ETHSM-3000-3: Migrants, Exiles, Refugees

Lydia Nakashima Degarrod

The United Nations has reported that the number of displaced people-due to war conflict, persecution, and poverty-- in the world 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 new formations of identity, and the emergent concepts of home and belonging.

ETHSM-3000-1: Spirituality as Resistance

Professor V

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-2000-5: 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.

Graduate Design

DESGN-6720-4: Context: Citizen Science in the Anthropocene

Mary Ellen Hannibal

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.

DESGN-6720-5: Designing Our Way Out: Temporalities

Juan Carlos Rodriguez Rivera

This course explores temporalities and cosmologies within design disciplines. We will work with the intersections/liminal moments of time and space to create new narratives regarding design's role in liberating the world from oppressive systems while also thinking about the creation of new cosmologies, new worlds. The course intends to address the following questions: how do we design our way out? Why do we need to design a way out? The course will examine decolonial theory, critical race theory, philosophy from the Global South, and a variety of methodologies to develop new narratives and projects.

History of Art and Visual Culture

HAAVC-2000-3: Feminist Art

Cindy Bello

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.

HAAVC-3000-6: Universal Design and the Body

Katherine Lambert

Universal Design is an aspirational outgrowth of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it touches upon all areas of design as a holistic approach to inclusivity and diversity. But, the post ADA world is what inspires our young designers and holds the key to change within and for our bodies. We are now witnessing quantum leaps in 21st c. technological and biological developments which hold the promise of advancements for embodied spatial experiences in our built environments. This compilation of edited articles from renowned academic writers, scientists and scholars in addition to wildly futuristic and inspired projects will shift the paradigm of our understanding. Through student research, prescient articles and designed exercises, throughout this course we will help define the interactive qualities of this new world as we co-creating our future selves.

Philosophy and Critical Theory

PHCRT-2000-7: 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.


SCULP-2700-1: Sculpture Workshop: Material Worlds

Mia Feuer

This workshop will focus on expansive sculptural creation with a concentration on sustainability, ecological considerations and resource extraction. Through the harvesting of natural materials and the scavenging of discarded recyclables, students will create site specific works that explore themes relating to extinction, environmental collapse, the poetics of synthetic materials and The Anthropocene era. Students will have the opportunity to create site specific installations in a multitude of locations in The Bay Area including superfund sites, recycling depots, botanical gardens and majestic wild spaces.  There will be guest speakers including artists whose practice has an ecological focus, botanists, activists, climate scientists and members of Indigenous tribes whose ancestral lands are being destroyed. This class counts towards an Ecological Practices minor.

Social Science and History

SSHIS-2000-7: Race, Resistance, and Possibility

Rekia Jibrin

Black liberation remains a pressing issue today in the United States. The unrest in cities across the country such as in Baltimore, Ferguson, Philadelphia, and Oakland etc. underscores persistent social ills in our country that racialized people continue to face. This course addresses these grievances within Black revolutionary traditions that have shaped race, resistance, and Black struggle. In addition to presenting a history of the ways radical groups and thinkers have grappled with questions of freedom and emancipation, we will explore more recent theorizations of race and racial struggle. We will analyze how these theorizations converse with a Black revolutionary tradition of the past that continues to ignite protest movements, and a Black radical tradition that theorizes these movements.

SSHIS-3000-4: ‘Tryin’ to get Free’: Foundations and Futures of Intersectionality

ETHSM-3000-6: ‘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-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-3000-5: Parks, Environment, & Leisure

Kim Anno

This course is a creative interdisciplinary investigation in the art, design, history, social conflicts, and aesthetics of Parks and Leisure. The course is also part of a collaborative: E SCHOOL, a fine arts, H&S, and Architecture environmental justice faculty collaborative.  How do we make sense of historical decisions as we reflect now on the consequences of climate change on our parks and leisure? What role can art and design play in a redefinition of human interaction in wilderness and urban parks?  How can we protect the fragility rivers and creeks in the face of environmental challenges to water? What do relational human pathways look like? What decisions can we make? Each of these areas mitigate complex histories as natural celebrations, catharsis, memorials, monuments.

UDIST-3000-3: Queer Super Objects

John de Fazio

This 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. 

UDIST-3000-7: The Contemporary: Globalization in Contemporary Art

Edith Garcia

What do we mean when we speak of contemporary art and the art world? What does it mean to be a global artist? How do we think and act locally or globally? What is contemporaneity or the contemporary, and how is it used to categorize art? How do we, as artists and viewers, locate ourselves in terms of geography and history when we engage with art? We will address critical theories, artists, curators, and discourses around the biennial circuits and systems that constitute the global contemporary art world. We will consider historical examples, curatorial strategies and trends as well as new practices of engagement, and how these might reconfigure other modes of thinking about, making, and presenting art. This might include but are not limited to broader issues of human and civil rights, nationalism and internationalism, feminism, multiculturalism and ethnicity, borders, migration, and the current market forces.

Visual and Critical Studies

GELCT-6800-2: Theories of Identity, Difference, and Power

VISCR-6220-1: Theories of Identity, Difference, and Power

Mia Liu

The politics of identity continues to be a compelling and hotly debated topic in visual culture. This course explores the construction, negotiation, and contestation of identity and difference in visual and critical studies. The theoretical scope of this course includes postcolonial theory, race theory, gender studies, and whiteness studies. Students investigate how theorists and artists address the complex intersections of race, sexuality, gender, class, health, and nationality in light of subjects such as immigration, transnational media, diasporic communities, disidentification, belonging, and desire. Special attention is given to critical and visual perspectives that challenge monolithic views of identity. Instead we privilege diverse, multiple, and intersectional approaches that connect lived experience, social critique, and artistic practice.

Writing and Literature

WRLIT-2100-3: Race and Performance

LITPA-2000-2: Race and Performance

Devorah Major

This class will look at how and why the concept of race was invented and its impact on current social constructs. Students will investigate and write about their own relationships to race, caste, and class, based on class discussions and readings. They will create performance monologues and duets based on their own writing. Performances by different cultural actors and storytellers addressing these issues will be shown and discussed.

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