Below are sample course descriptions from classes I have designed/taught within the past two years in the New York City area. Full syllabi are available upon request.

Utopia and Urbanism

Utopia has always had a special relationship with urbanism.  Whether it is Plato’s “city in speech,” Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, or Le Corbusier’s “Ville Radieuse,” the most influential utopian (and indeed dystopian) visions have tended to be expressed in the form of the city. With this in mind, this seminar traces the history of utopian political thought alongside and through the story of urban space. Beginning with Thomas More’s genre defining work and other pre-Utopia “utopias,” students will examine the role of utopian thinking in twentieth and twenty-first century urban politics. Topics include the relationship between utopia and modernity, spatiality, urban planning, architecture, and nature. Authors discussed include, Charles Baudelaire, Guy Debord, Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, Italo Calvino, Michel De Certeau, and Jane Jacobs. The seminar will also capitalize on our fortunate position as an urban campus and explore several New York-centric issues related to urban development, gentrification, housing, and social movements.

Imagining the Good Society: An Introduction to Political Theory

In ancient Athens, Plato worried that the just society would not be realized until either philosophers assumed political power or politicians became philosophers. On the eve of the French Revolution, Rousseau warned that a legitimate republic could succeed only if its citizens were “forced to be free.” A generation later, Marx professed that the most humane form of social life could be achieved only after the proletariat threw off its collective chains. In many respects, the history of political thought can be understood as a history of competing articulations of “the good society.” With this in mind, this seminar offers an introduction to the field of Political Theory through critical examinations of notable historical visions of the good society. Beginning with Plato’s “city in speech” and ending with contemporary articulations of liberal, conservative, and revolutionary “good societies,” the seminar traces the evolving relationship between concepts and themes such as justice, order, virtue, reason, revolution, history, tradition, and liberty. 

Integrative Seminar I: Identity and Space

Integrative Seminar I has two important goals. First, it will prepare you to read and write at the university level. Throughout the semester, you will work toward questions of scholarly consequence as you acquire the authority you need to write your way into existing intellectual conversations. Second, its relationship with Integrative Studio 1 will result in critical dialogues between seminar and studio practice, or writing and making. This course shares a common theme with Integrative Studio 1 and at various times in the semester, the two classes share ideas, concepts and assignments through bridge topics. In this way, it will bring together reading, writing and making in a manner that is essential to the creative work of artists and designers in every discipline. The Parsons Learning Portfolio will be introduced and developed in the Integrative courses.

Integrative Seminar I and Integrative Studio 1 are jointly organized around the themes of Identity and Space. This seminar will use these themes to explore the ways that identities (both personal and social) are created, represented, and challenged in the complex urban social landscape of New York City. The seminar will examine the ways that urban space helps to shape the ways that identities are represented, and in turn how urban space is given identity and itself becomes represented.  As the seminar progresses, discussions will explore cultural and commercial identities, non-visual forms of representation, and online identities.  Through this approach, students will engage with topics that address, amongst other things, race, multiculturalism, immigration, subcultures and self-expression.