Working with People : Keywords

 

What’s new with Working with People :

Working with People and the Ship’s First Shape
Working with People is a part of “The Ship’s First Shape Was a Raft” – a two-year collaboration between the New School, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) and the Fortune Society. This is a project supported by the New School Collaboratory and the Rockefeller Foundation.



The Working with People : Keywords project

This project, with its straight-forward working title “Working with People” creates a critical framework for the  increasing interest that has emerged in working with people beyond the academy, in collaborative and generative practices. “Civic engagement,” “design for social change,” and other types of “engaged” pedagogical practice create both opportunities and responsibilities for developing new curricula that explicitly focus on teaching and learning about collaborative practices and contexts. It is critical when, as is often the case, the people and groups in question are regarded as societal “others” and issues of sensitivity and translation across cultures or other real or perceived divides could become a challenge.

Yet, when we talk about community-university collaborations, some powerful words are ill-defined; other critical words are conspicuously absent. This project and this online resource hopes to foster challenging collisions between different understandings of crucial keywords to build a more nuanced way of working with people.

Collaboration / Community / Difference / Empathy / Ethnography / Human / Participation / Politics / Power / Public / Representation / Sustainability

How did this project come about?
For three years, the research and curriculum-development project “Working with People”, led by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Shana Agid and Cameron Tonkinwise, has been investigating and developing innovative pedagogical approaches to this growing field of design and liberal arts practice at the New School.

The project has identified that there is often a gap in resources and critical engagement for both faculty and students doing projects “with communities,” and has developed the online resource you see here, as well as a modular curriculum to investigate the keywords in these contexts.

How did we make the Keywords site?
The project began by interviewing New School faculty members across the different schools of the university, talking with people about the way they do their own form of civic engagement. We asked them to choose two of the keywords we had identified as being under-defined, or under-used, and to define what these two words meant to them in the context of their own work. What you see here is a conversation between those sometimes-conflicting definitions of these complex words.

What is the curriculum?
The curriculum seeks to build a foundation for establishing reciprocal relationship-building through student and faculty interactions with community-based groups and non-profit organizations by exploring the complex and contradictory contexts in which users, collaborators, and organizations live and work. Created as modules around the thirteen keywords, the curriculum uses You will soon be able to download the curriculum here.

The project has been supported by the New School’s fund for Innovations in Education and the University Civic Engagement Committee.

Public Programs Series
We often hold public programs and workshops around the Working with People project and the divergent definitions of its keywords. The information from past events is below.

Working with People
@ the “Communities of _____” exhibition
Aronson Gallery, Parsons The New School
October 25 – Nov 3, 2012

Working with People workshop for the New Challenge
A workshop we teach annually for the New School’s New Challenge competition participants.


Working with People:
A conference on Keywords & Contested Meanings
April 2012

When we talk about community-university collaborations, some powerful words are ill-defined; other critical words are conspicuously absent. How can wrestling with these words affect our practice?

This one-day event focuses on developing critical conversations around “civic engagement” and the pedagogy and politics of teaching “with communities.”

The day’s conversations will foster challenging collisions between different understandings of six crucial keywords—community + collaboration; politics + citizenship; and representation + human—as we consider even the most seemingly familiar terms and concepts from new perspectives and begin to build a more nuanced way of working with people.

The event grows out of a three-year research and curriculum development project on innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching in and with communities that foreground the impacts of relationships of power that frequently determine these projects, but are not often addressed.

Session 1: Community & Collaboration
Two words that are often at the heart of partner-based projects but often lack definition.

Lisa Yun Lee
Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Jeffrey Hou
Chair of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington

Ari Wohlfeiler
Activist, Critical Resistance

Judy Mejia, Facilitator
Director of Civic Engagement & Social Justice, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts

Session 2 : Representation & Human, Politics & Citizenship
Four critical words and concepts that often shape the landscape of design, social and political change, and education, both in their presence or absence

Hettie Jones
Poet, The New School for Public Engagement & former chair of the PEN Prison Writing Committee

Jack Tchen
Prof of APA Studies, NYU & co-founder of the Museum of Chinese in America

Caitlin Cahill
The Public Science Project & co-founder of the Mestizo Arts & Cultural Collective

Deva Woodly, Facilitator
Assistant Professor of Politics, The New School for Social Research

Conference co-organized by
Shana Agid
Parsons The New School for Design

Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani
Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts + Buscada

Sponsored by The New School University Civic Engagement Committee

Download a pdf of the full schedule here.

 

Working with People: 

Pedagogical Tools for Engaging Issues of Power and Difference in Community-University Courses and Partnerships
Thursday, April 19, 12:30-2:00 p.m.
The New School, 66 West 12th St., room 510

Co-facilitators:
Shana Agid, Assistant Professor of Art, Media, and Technology and Director of Printmaking, Parsons
Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Visiting Assistant Professor of Urban Studies

For three years, the research and curriculum-development project “Working with People” has been investigating and developing innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching in and with communities that foreground the impacts of relationships of power that frequently shape these projects but are often not addressed. There is often a gap in resources and critical engagement for both faculty and students doing projects “with communities,” and the Working with People project is developing a curriculum and online resources using a framework of modules that investigate key words in these contexts. The curriculum seeks to build a foundation for establishing reciprocal relationship building through student and faculty interactions with community-based groups and nonprofit organizations by exploring the complex and contradictory contexts in which users, collaborators, and organizations live and work. Parts of this curriculum can be modified and used in a wide variety of courses. In this workshop, Shana Agid and Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani will introduce the project, with a focus on tools and practical concerns of participants.