The Department of Black and Latino Studies is interdisciplinary and is fully committed to student-centered, antiracist inclusive teaching and learning. This means that as teachers we should think about how we can manifest equity in our classrooms, the ways in which we facilitate participation from everyone, and how we can be responsive the multiple ways that people learn. In our classes, everyone should feel welcome and respected. We assembled these resources for teaching so that all BLS faculty can develop an ongoing teaching practice that supports active, empowered learning.
Our work continues the radical, inclusive pedagogical practices of an earlier generation of faculty at CUNY, including Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks. You can read some of their writings about empowered teaching here:
Toni Cade Bambara, Realizing the Dream of a Black University & Other Writings (Part 1)
June Jordan, “Life Studies”: 1966-1976
Isis Artize-Vega, et. al., The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching
Your syllabus should reflect your ethical commitments. How can you design one that demonstrates collaboration, equity, freedom as a practice, of love, of care, of antiracism, and/or of abolition? The syllabus is your students’ first impression of their experience learning with you. It not only organizes your students’ learning experiences with you, but also how they relate among each other. As you create your syllabus, please consider ways in which you can structure community, collaboration and co-creation, make connections to the worlds beyond school, normalize accessibility, design innovative and responsive assignments, and inspire curiosity. Even the smallest gesture toward these characteristics can transform our students’ learning experiences.
“The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.” bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress
Please take care to organize your syllabus in a way that can assist your students’ success. Here is a list of items every syllabus should include:
- Your contact information and an invitation to your office hours (in person and online).
- You might want to consider creating community by using an informal chat option via Whatsapp, Telegram, or Slack.
- And/or collaborative class notes in which 1-2 students in each class session takes notes so that when a student is absent, or would like to refresh her memory of earlier conversations, she has easy access.
- A statement of care. This includes listing services that are free and available for students’ care and success. Please include a link to Baruch’s One Stop Shop (BOSS). These services at BOSS include academic support, mental health counseling, disability services, financial aid and emergency assistance, tutoring, academic integrity, and more. You can find a more detailed list via the Office of Student Affairs.
- Your policy on attendance, grades–or alternative assessments, and late work.
- Assignments–flexible and otherwise–as well as due dates.
- A Zoom link you can use for emergency modality adjustments and remote office hours.
- Your statement on COVID policy. You cannot require students to wear masks, but you can ask and/or have a discussion about what works for everyone.
- Required reading, viewing, listening, and instructions on where to find them.
- An invitation to pursue a BLS major or minor.
Baruch is encouraging faculty to use the Baruch Bookstore Portal for your course materials. You can log in by clicking either “Faculty” or “Login” to set up your reading lists. You can then add a custom link to your syllabus, email correspondences, Blogs@Baruch, and/or Blackboard.
Here are some classroom exercises you can use to engage your students and help them get to know the syllabus.
Our introductory courses (BLS 1003 and LTS 1003) are a critical moment for students as they begin their college careers. These courses are foundational. Faculty will teach new concepts and new vocabulary as well as new tools for building arguments and for analyzing evidence. Students will be learning how to think and how to succeed in college. Please do not mistake
In these classes, faculty should mentor students in their abilities to assess and build arguments using reliable evidence. Students are not equally prepared for college. We want all of our students to graduate and to feel excited about learning. Faculty should make intentional choices for balancing accessible texts and assignments that inspire students to grow in their thinking, and at the same time, to encourage advanced study in the department’s upper division courses.
The general learning goals for these introductory courses are:
- think critically about race and racism and constructive ways for repair
- understand intersectional connections between key issues and ideas regarding Black and/or Latinx peoples
- communicate arguments and ideas in multiple formats (written, oral, digital)
- analyze evidence (quantitative and qualitative)
- understand the value of interdisciplinary + comparative study
As you plan your syllabi, please consider the following questions: How will your course content and assignments support these learning goals? What are the multiple ways you assess whether students have been able to develop the skills above? How does your course content reflect interdisciplinary thinking and communication? While you are welcome to customize these learning goals; please keep them in mind as you organize your course content and course activities.
It is also important to talk with your students about how your course learning goals translate into career skills such as:
- critical thinking
- problem solving
- teamwork and collaboration
- technical skills
In introductory courses such as the “Evolution and Expressions of Racism” or “Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey,” faculty can consider these broad topics as invitations to choose 3 or 4 themes/concepts in which students can learn about Latin America, or about how racism and resistances to it works. These courses are interdisciplinary. For instance, you can consider the ways in which your course integrates history with policy, poetry with politics, or music with protest. Inclusive, antiracist teaching and learning means that, as our courses invite critical thinking about equity–about gender identity, sexuality, empire and colonialism, class, language, and race–they also offer safe spaces for students to explore, to ask questions, and to make mistakes.
You are welcome to include multiple kinds of texts such as history, primary sources, poetry, fiction, memoir, podcasts, film, music, or visual culture to help students understand the multiple ways we all access ideas. Similarly, assignments should also vary: skills assessments should be responsive to the diverse ways in which people learn. Exams and papers could be replaced or supplemented with multimedia projects, podcasts, or group projects. You
Again please be considerate of the multiple ways students learn. How will your course be responsive to learning diversity? How will your classes encourage active participation? How will you create a community of learners online and/or in-person? How will you manage difficult conversations? (See resources below).
ELECTIVES (3000-LEVEL COURSES)
BLS is interdisciplinary, and its courses should reflect critical practices that include more than one discipline. Students should be able to know and articulate the differences between quantitative and qualitative analysis and evidence. These courses support the BLS/LTS major as well as the minors in BLS, LTS, and LACS. Many are cross-listed with other departments and schools.
Please consider how you course content and assignments support interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methods? What tools will you use to facilitate 100% participation, rather than the professor and a few students dominating discussions? How does your course inspire engagements with racial and social justice? What career-legible skills are you helping your students practice?
Our learning goals are career skills. In regular conversations with your students, please consider how their classroom learning has real-world applications:
- Using interdisciplinary methods (quantitative and qualitative) to build and support arguments addressing issues and ideas that center Black and Latinx peoples’ knowledge production
- Communicating ideas and arguments in written, oral, and digital forms
- Evaluating issues of social and racial justice using multidisciplinary perspectives
- Assessing and identify reliable sources of research and information
- Develop skills for research and problem solving
Please encourage your students to connect with Starr Career Services, to plan ahead for internships, and to ask questions about their options. With these skills, BLS students will be able to pursue careers and advanced degrees in a range of fields including:
- public affairs
- the law
- graduiate school
4000-level CAPSTONE COURSES: RESEARCH + FIELDWORK
These courses are special teaching and learning opportunities. Research and/or fieldwork are key features of our program. They provide our students with opportunities to make connections between their classroom learning and their futures after college. Research and fieldwork offer experiential learning not only as practical applications of career skills, but they also support our students’ access and opportunity to engage the world.
All capstone courses should include a research project and/or an opportunity to use their skills to support a racial or social justice project.
We hope the following resources will inspire faculty to customize research and fieldwork in BLS classes:
- Customized Research Skills Workshop with the Newman Library
- Starr Career Services (for career counseling, internship opportunities, graduate school prep, mock interviews, and more)
- Resources for collaborative “Teaming” projects
SAMPLE SYLLABI + COURSE CONTENT
- Black Lives Matter Syllabus
- Puerto Rico Syllabus
- Teaching Antiracism (digital texts, podcasts, music, video, etc.)
- Black Freedom Struggles (primary source materials)
- Teaching Race and Gender Theory Toolkit
- 1619 Project and Curriculum
DIGITAL AND REMOTE LEARNING PLATFORMS
SYLLABUS PLANNING + CREATIVE ASSIGNMENTS +ONLINE PEDAGOGY TOOLS
- The Teach@CUNY Handbook
- The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)
- Teaching Resources from Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH)
- Strategies for Antiracist and Decolonized Teaching
- Tips for Teaching Sensitive + Uncomfortable Topics
- Assignments + Grading
- Podcasts in the Classroom (from BLS Professor Rebecca Salois)
- Electronic Grade Change Form
BARUCH COLLEGE GUIDES AND RESOURCES
- Adjunct Faculty Services
- Student Disability Services
- Academic Honesty
- Student Disability Services
- Campus Intervention (for students in crisis)
- Newman Library
- Writing Center
- Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute
- Baruch Computing and Technology Center (BCTC)