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Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Tisch College Courses

Each year, Tisch College creates, cosponsors, or otherwise supports undergraduate courses that help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and values needed to engage in productive civic lives. In 2017-2018, these include more than a dozen courses in fields like media, science, politics, and entrepreneurship.

Spring 2018

TCS 193-08UEP 0194-02

Technology, Media, and the City

Instructor: Aditi Mehta, PhD Candidate, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning

This seminar is an introduction to how people have used information communication technologies (ICTs) in the past and present to shape the social and physical fabric of cities. From radio to social networking sites to smart phone apps to wifi mesh networks, among other platforms, we will explore the relationship between digital space and physical space. The course will be divided into four sections: I) ICTs and Open Government; II) ICTs and Community Development; III) ICTs, Local Activism, and Social Movements; and IV) Investigating the City through ICTs and Media.

TCS 193-07PS 159-01

The People, Revolution, and Popular Constitution-Making

Instructor: Joshua Braver, Postdoctoral Fellow

This seminar focuses on the concept, history, and politics of the people’s the power to enact a revolution and institutionalize it in a constitution. The seminar begins with interrogating the abstract idea of the people.  We will look at variety of classical and modern thinkers to ask: Who are the people?  How are they created? Are they bound by law, or is law counterrevolutionary?  Does representation divide the people or constitute it?  From there, we will analyze particular cases of popular constitution-making around the world beginning in the 18th century with the U.S. and French Revolutions and then on to more contemporary examples in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Lastly, we will evaluate the new emerging social science on constitution-making.

TCS 093-03EXP-0018-VS

Hamilton: in Context

Instructor: Mary Pat McMahon, Dean of Student Affairs
Co-Instructor: Miguel Rodríguez-Santos, A18

The purpose of Hamilton: In Context is to analyze the life story of Alexander Hamilton: immigrant,scholar, soldier, founding father, economist, scoundrel. Hamilton's unique position among the Founding Fathers rose to recent national prominence through Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical in 2015. While the play pioneers new territory in musical theater genre, Hamilton’s biography has captured the imagination of millions, reignited interest in the American Revolution and the humanity behind many familiar names represented in dusty textbooks. Hamilton: In Context seeks to answer these questions: Why care about a person who lived 260 years ago? What can his struggles and accomplishments show us about modern American politics and society? What do we learn from this particular founding father’s history and life? How does Lin-Manuel Miranda's medium influence our sense of Hamilton's relevance? Why him? Why now?

TCS 261-01UEP 0261-01

Community Development, Planning, and Politics

Instructor: Lorlene Hoyt, Research Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Collaborative seminar exploring community development concepts and strategies in U.S. and other national contexts. Examines the history, structure and function of urban and virtual communities, with attention to the politics of space, civic participation and socio-economic inequality. Introduction to methods of inquiry including personal interviews, case study analysis and digital storytelling. Guest speakers provide insights from practice and professional networking opportunities. Seminar participants encouraged to build solidarity, become a community.

TCS 193-04EXP-0085-XS

Dialogue, Identity & Civic Action

Instructor: Jonathan Garlick, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science

This course offers students in-depth training in dialogue facilitation to develop skills needed to take civic action for positive social change. Students will facilitate the creation of spaces to communicate openly about contentious or divisive issues and will work towards breaking down destructive communication habits like avoidance, silence, or reactive responses, by enabling participants to feel truly listened to.  Students will design conversations and facilitate dialogues that build deep listening and mutual understanding and will be trained to conduct dialogues when there is a need to intervene to support difficult conversations on campus and in their communities.

TCS 193-01ELS 193-02

Social Entrepreneurship, Policy, and Systems Change

Instructor: Scott Warren, CEO, Generation Citizen

This course will explore the dynamics and interplay between social entrepreneurship, social change, and policy. Using the framework of Generation Citizen, an organization designed to encourage young people to be active and engaged citizens through implementing action civics in schools across the country, students will explore frameworks for social transformation, and whether stable governance and effective policies are necessary for sustainable change. The course will examine the intersection between social change and policy change, and examine how the two concepts intersect while focusing on the end goal of systems change. Students will learn about Generation Citizen’s evolution and theory of change, as well as examine different case studies from across the United States and world. Guest speakers will include diverse practitioners of social entrepreneurship who think about long-term pathways to transformative social change, and dynamic policymakers.

TCS 193-06PS 118-01

Topics in American Politics: Organizing for Social Change

Instructor: Danny LeBlanc, CEO, Somerville Community Corporation
Co-Instructor: Kenneth Galdston, Director, InterValley Project

This course will trace community organizing to some of its early roots in the United States, as well as drawing connections between community organizing and other movements, including the labor, civil rights, and environmental movements. Presentations and discussions with other Boston area community organizers will be included as will be opportunities to visit with and observe local community-based organizations.

TCS 193-05PS 118-02

Topics in American Politics: Massachusetts State Government - Learning While Doing

Instructor: Ben Downing, Former Massachusetts State Senator

Students will be placed in one of a dozen State House offices—for a legislator, committee, in the governor’s office, or for an executive branch agency—to serve in a policy-focused internship. These experiences will be supplemented with a class built around discussion of shared experiences, as well as on the interplay between policy and politics. The primary goal is for 3 students to develop real world skills and a deeper understanding of how politics and policy intersect to create law, regulatory programs, and social change.

TCS 104-01PS 104-01

Seminar: New Media, New Politics

Instructor: Robin Liss, Lecturer

Research seminar on three media sectors: cable television, talk radio, and the political blogosphere. Analysis of the economic foundations of each, advertising, audience demographics, and program strategy. Students will conduct an original empirical study of new media.

TCS 193-03FMS 094-06CSHD 143-08

Creating Children's Media

Instructor: Julie Dobrow, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Media and Civic Engagement

What goes into writing a script for a children's television show? How do you pitch a great children's book as a movie? How do you write an ad for kids? How can you propose an educational app that someone will want to develop? This course will combine learning how children’s educational media products are developed with formative and summative research with a practice-based workshop approach to applying educational learning theory and principles in creative ways. We’ll discuss how and why creating quality children’s media is fits into ideas of media literacy, a 21st century civic skill. We’ll examine award-winning children’s media, hear from people who created it and craft our own. And we’ll take a workshop approach in developing scripts for children’s tv shows, learning what goes into pitching a book for film and building proposals for interactive media products. The course will include a field trip to WGBH to participate in a hackathon to design new media products for children.

TCS 167-01FMS 52-01CSHD 167-01

Children and Mass Media

Instructor: Julie Dobrow, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Media and Civic Engagement

Children have long been considered a “special” audience by broadcasters, advertisers, politicians, educators and researchers. This course will introduce you to the logic behind this designation, through a careful and critical examination of the theory and research on children’s mass media use, and the influence of media on children. We take a look at children’s media content across platforms (television, film, advertising, social media) and at different types of media content (from Sesame Street to Disney films and beyond), paying special attention to images of gender, race and ethnicity. We’ll examine the effects media have on young children, tweens and adolescents, look at the relationship between media violence and aggression and explore whether there’s a relationship between media images and body images. This is a project-based class, including one in which you’ll learn to make a remix.

TCS 141-01ELS 141-01AMER 141-01

Innovative Social Enterprises

Instructor: Julianne Zimmerman, Lecturer, Gordon Institute

Innovative Social Enterprises is structured to provide students a highly interactive exploration of core skills vital to social entrepreneurs.  We start with awareness (self, context, relationships) and move quickly to practicing requisite disciplines (asking questions; testing and reframing assumptions; forming teams and other alliances; identifying opportunities, risks, and resources; giving and critiquing pitches; making go/no-go decisions).  We will practice an iterative rhythm of weekly information gathering, sensing, assessment, and reframing, with emphasis on creating compelling value for multiple stakeholders.  Students will engage in individual reflection and pitching as well as three team pitch-offs.

TCS 94-01CHEM 94-01

Special Topics: Science & the Human Experience

Instructor: Jonathan Garlick, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science

"Science and the Human Experience" is a small group Freshman Seminar that helps students find their voice in the public conversation about divisive science-based issues that matter most to them.  The course is designed as a small-group where we learn about and share conversations about science issues such as sexual health, mental health and well-being, stem cells, reproductive choice, environmental justice, health disparities and other topics. Our goals is to help students gain insights to understand, analyze and reflect on the social, moral, philosophical, political, and ethical issues that are grounded in science and play central role in our lives and in the personal and civic choices we make.   The Seminar is especially designed to help students with interests in the humanities and social sciences to engage in relevant science issues.  No previous experience in the life/natural sciences is required.  The course is approved for Natural Sciences distribution credit.

No previous experience in the life/natural sciences is required. The course is approved for Natural Sciences distribution credit.
TCS 145-02WGSS 185-06VISC 145-01

Mass Incarceration & The Literature of Confinement

Instructor: Hilary Binda, Senior Lecturer in Visual and Critical Studies and Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

The Literature of Confinement will be run as an Inside-Out™ class composed of Tufts (“outside”) students and incarcerated (“inside”) students in equal numbers. All students who pass the class will earn credit. Together we will ask: How have writers from different historical periods, regions, cultures, and genders (for example, Frederick Douglass, Henrik Ibsen, James Joyce, Lorraine Hansberry, Suzan-Lori Parks) understood experiences of confinement and freedom? What are some of the effects on human beings of different kinds of confinement – economic, educational, legal, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social? Together, we will read, discuss, and write on literary texts directly and indirectly pertaining to the experience of confinement – understood in many different senses. What constitutes a confining circumstance?  How is confinement imposed and by whom?  How do these texts help us understand various forms of resistance? Through analyses of a variety of different literary works, students will study various discourses of identity and difference, including race, culture, economic class, and gender-sexuality, often in relation to the US criminal justice system. A weekly focus on engaged interactive learning across cultural, social, and literal barriers in addition to the regular practice of self-reflection through journal writing and creative writing assignments will enable students to develop a qualitative knowledge about power and possibilities in the face of social injustice and structural inequalities. This course aims to facilitate expanded literacy, widely defined, as well as learning about deep differences while also enabling the creation of bonds between people through shared acts of interpretation and imagination. At the end of the term, inside and outside students will work together in small groups to complete a project of the groups’ invention and design.

Course Requirements

1. Submit to a 2-paragraph statement: Why do you want to take this class and what have you done that might prepare you in any way for the experience? Please write in the SUBJECT LINE: Inside-Out Application.

2. On Thursday 11/9 between 9:00-5:00, interview with professor for 10 minutes in Eaton 105. There is a sign up on the door of Eaton 105 now, and you can sign up at any time, including when you get there. If you cannot do either time because of a class conflict or because of a work responsibility, please contact the professor in advance. Every effort must be made to make it to one of the above-listed interview blocks.

3. Please understand that preference will be given to students who have the fewest opportunities left to take this class (ie. juniors and seniors will likely have priority). The class will, we hope, run again next year. We will keep track of who wanted to be in the class this semester but did not get in, though this doesn’t guarantee a spot.

4. Professor will send an email to all students who register and let them know who is in the class and who is waitlisted. Registration will be opened at that point for the 10 accepted students.

Fall 2017

TCS 094-01ELS 194-09PS 188-05

Peace through Entrepreneurship

Instructor: Steven R Koltai, A76, F78, Visiting Lecturer

International political instability, unrest and violence most often stem from massive rates of mostly youth unemployment, and the most effective way to address this is by spurring entrepreneurship—the greatest single, private sector job-creator. This course is based on this central theory, covering a range of related topics including theories of international economic development, impact investing, microfinance, and practical operations of the international development space. A veteran of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, Warner Bros. Inc., McKinsey & Co., and the State Department, Prof. Steve Koltai pulls from his professional background to create a unique classroom experience. This course will particularly appeal to those interested in working in the international economic development sphere, and will rely heavily on Prof. Koltai’s recent book, Peace through Entrepreneurship: Investing in a Startup Culture for Security and Development.

Open to Junior and Senior undergraduates
TCS 094-02PS 118-03

Topics in American Politics - Massachusetts State Government: How the Sausage Gets Made

Instructor: Stan Rosenberg, Massachusetts Senate President

Learn from Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg about the process, roles of key players, and strategic thinking involved in creating public policy addressing today’s most pressing issues. This class will operate as the legislature itself by identifying a chosen problem, creating and debating possible solutions from the perspective of key stakeholders and interest groups, and drafting and passing comprehensive legislation. Course methods include focus on experiential learning in addition to discussion and debate, research, and policy writing. Class time will be enhanced by guest speakers and visits to the Massachusetts State House.

TCS 094-03ELS 194-05

Philanthropy, Social Enterprise, and Community

Instructor: Nancy Lippe, Lecturer, Experimental College

Philanthropy plays many roles in our communities, from alleviating crisis situations to encouraging strategic, systemic change. Nonprofit organizations are the intermediaries connecting donors to community needs. Working with a grant from former Tufts Trustee Nathan Gantcher, students have the opportunity to practice philanthropy by serving as a young adult grant-making board to award $25,000 to local nonprofits in the cities of Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston. Students will learn about different styles of philanthropy and effective nonprofit management; how to think about and evaluate philanthropic impact; how to create and implement a community project; how to read nonprofit financials and assess nonprofit organizational health and potential; sources of philanthropic news and thinking; and trends in philanthropy and nonprofit management.

TCS 094-04FMS 094-04ENVS 195-01

Media and Environment: Creating Change

Instructor: Julie Dobrow, Senior Fellow for Media and Civic Engagement, Tisch College
Co-Instructor: Ninian Stein, Lecturer, Environmental Studies Program

Now, more than ever, the environment needs engaged informed and skilled advocates. This class will explore current issues ranging from the Dakota Pipeline, to deforestation, to pollution of the oceans, to climate change, and give you ways to sharpen your skills to use the media for getting out effective and targeted messages. We’ll be bringing in a diverse group of important environmental advocates, organizers, filmmakers and journalists as guest speakers who will tell their stories of creating environmental awareness and change. Our focus includes the powerful role media can play in giving voice to underrepresented voices and illuminating issues of environmental justice. Learn to make a difference in local, national and global communities on the environmental issues that are most pressing.

TCS 94-05PS 118-01

Topics in American Politics: Rules, Strategies & Outcomes

Instructor: Eitan Hersh, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

This survey course of U.S. elections will connect the dots from laws (the Constitution, case law, state and federal statutes) to strategies (by political parties, candidates, interest groups, and donors), and from strategies to outcomes (voting, public opinion, activism).

No prerequisites. All are welcome.
TCS 94-06PS 118-02

Topics in American Politics: Information, Technology & Privacy

Instructor: Eitan Hersh, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

This wide-ranging course focuses on how politics affects information technologies and in how information affects politics and governance. Topics include oversight, government leaks, free speech, surveillance, collective action, voter decision-making, campaign targeting, Uber, Amazon, antitrust laws, and more.

TCS 94-07CH 99-03

Special Topics: Science and Civic Action

Instructor: Jonathan Garlick, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science

This course teaches students conceptual approaches and practical skills needed to effectively impact change on science-based issues of societal consequence. This course will link science issues to our professional, personal, civic and moral responsibilities and will equip students to make critical choices on divisive, contemporary science issues. Future scientists and engineers will learn to be active citizens by acquiring skills that build civic capacities, including advocacy and communication on complex, science issues. Students from the humanities and social sciences will learn skills indispensable for positive civic and democratic engagement that will guide critical decisions on science issues. This course aims to maximize opportunities for engaged citizenship and social action, as well as to strengthen inclusivity through pluralistic and dialogic approaches to learning.

TCS 22-01FMS 22-01

Media Literacy

Instructor: Julie Dobrow, Senior Fellow for Media and Civic Engagement, Tisch College

An exploration of the theorists working in the field of New Media Literacy and an examination of how the systems and institutions of mass media shape images; analysis, and critique of the literature on media effects. Focus on utilizing media production as an application of course concepts. Assessment of core debates surrounding the value of bringing new media technologies and participatory culture practices into formal systems of education and discussion of why American public education has been so reluctant to embrace them.

Program-Specific Courses

The following courses are open only to participants in Tisch College student programs.

EXP 0-111

Tisch Scholars Foundation: Civic Identity, Reflection, and Action

Instructor: Grace Talusan, Lecturer, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Through this course, Tisch Scholars will explore the connections between identity and systems of privilege, power, and oppression, and will apply their learning directly to their fieldwork. Students will learn to apply an asset-based approach to community work, and will gain skills in dialogue and deliberation. The coursework will allow students to critically reflect on the service learning work they are engaging with at their partner sites, and share ideas on how to address social issues in the community. Each semester that they participate in the program, Tisch Scholars will work eight hours per week at a community-based placement. Scholars will continue learning about Tufts partner communities and forge meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with community members through service and collaboration.

This course is exclusive to participants in the Tisch Scholars program
EXP 0-112

Tisch Scholars Fieldwork Practicum

Instructor: Sara Allred, Scholars Program Administrator, Tisch College

Each semester that they participate in the program, Tisch Scholars work eight hours per week at a community-based placement. Scholars will continue learning about Tufts partner communities and forge meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with community members through service and collaboration.  Scholars will meet several times per semester with their peers in the program to critically reflect on the work and learning they are engaging with at their partner sites, and share ideas on how to address social issues in the community.

This course is exclusive to participants in the Tisch Scholars program
Tufts 1+4 Course

Tufts 1+4 Foundation: Communicating for Change

Instructor: Grace Talusan, Lecturer, Department of English

Students will study and practice approaches to change, both personal and social, through a variety of communication methods. This course is designed to develop writing, close-reading, and critical thinking skills for students on a bridge-year experience. In a blended learning format and through related readings, investigative data collection, guided exploration of social issues, and experiences with service placements and host communities, students will practice reflection, analysis, and effective communication. Students will create a learning community and consider how their bridge-year experience connects to their future academic interests and possible impact on campus life once they return to campus.

This course is exclusive to participants in the Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program.