Student Taught Colloquiums

STPEC 291A-Z: Student Taught Colloquiums - 1-3 credits

Student taught colloquiums offer STPEC students an excellent chance to facilitate discussions and activities around the specific interests about which they are most passionate, as well as giving students a chance to experience the role of instructor.

Students may offer a colloq (for 3 credits - graded) or take a student taught colloq (usually for 1-2 credits - pass/fail). While the opportunity to offer a student taught colloquium is limited to STPEC students, most of the colloquiums being offered are open to all students at UMass and the Five Colleges, and can be registered for on SPIRE.

Any students wishing to offer a colloquium should speak with both Hoang Phan, Program Director, and Donna Vanasse, Program Coordinator, well in advance of the expected start date of the class. Students wishing to offer a colloquium will be expected to provide a proposal which includes a course title, description, outline of a syllabus, and potential reading list which must be approved by a faculty sponsor and reviewed by the STPEC office staff. If the faculty sponsor will be an instructor from outside the STPEC Program then the proposal must also be approved by either the STPEC Program Director or the STPEC Chief Academic Advisor.



Student Taught Colloquiums for Spring 2013


STPEC 291CE: Capitalism and the Environment
Jason Allen
Thursdays 5:00-7:30
2 credit, mandatory pass/fail
Schedule # 25584
This two-credit course is designed to explore the ecological crisis through the lens of both social/environmental theory and political economy. We will specifically address the capitalist system and its relationship to the environment, noting the limits of growth and any future possibilities of environmental sustainability. This class will look to investigate: The origins of capitalist development; Understanding the expansive nature of capital; How this global economic system interacts with the environment; Do humans have any ethical obligations to the natural world?; Can we put a monetary price on clean air, forests, the ozone layer, or the extinction of certain species?; The market’s response to the crisis; How cities are responding to the ecological crisis; Critiques of the current system and alternatives
Jason Allen is a STPEC senior. For more information on this course you may contact him at

STPEC 291S: Masculinity in the Classroom
Jared Schy and Chris Lowe
Mondays 2:30-5:30
2 credits, mandatory pass/fail
Schedule # 25901
Taking direction from feminists in the 1960s-70s, in consciousness-raising fashion, this class will be a space for students of all genders to explore the impact masculinities have on themselves and others in the classroom. Consciousness-raising is the practice of coming together in groups, sharing feelings and experiences, and analyzing them to find commonalities and differences to give direction to future political action.
This colloq will address questions such as: How do men benefit from male-privilege in classroom settings? How are patriarchal social relations created and reproduced and enforced in the classroom? How can a diverse group of male-identifying students, which cuts across, race, class, gender, and sexuality, ability and nationality, work in solidarity with women to address gender hierarchies in the classroom? This course seeks students with a strong commitment to creating classroom spaces where every student feels worthy—where students feel heard, recognized, respected, and seen.
This course will also explore questions of pedagogy and knowledge creation: Which ways of knowing and forms of knowledge are legitimized and why? Is consciousness-raising a valid form of pedagogy? Why might some people argue otherwise? How is pedagogy used to reinforce social hierarchies? How can it be used to break them down? This course is an experiment in making classrooms more democratic, participatory, and potentially more liberatory spaces. As such, there will be both guidance and a strong degree of collaboration as a whole class to determine what we do together in the course. We feel the goals of addressing hierarchical gender relations in the classroom can best be accomplished by creating spaces, both joint and separate, for students of all genders to meet together in groups and talk about their experiences. Portions of this class will be separated by gender affinities and portions of it will be together.
This course will be facilitated by Jared Schy, BDIC and Chris Lowe, STPEC. For more information please contact them at: Jared Schy: or Chris Lowe:

Student Taught Colloquiums for Spring 2012


STPEC 291N: Sustainable Thinking
TearNee W. Barker, Mia Shimokana
MonWedFri 1:25-2:15
3 credits mandatory
Schedule # 71274
Sustainable Thinking is a student-facilitated course that will investigate the challenges of implementing sustainable solutions in various contexts by fostering environmental literacy. We will discuss topics such as energy justice, distribution of resources and wealth, sustainable practices as well as the history of sustainability within modern society. This course will be taught non-traditionally. Students will be encouraged to apply what they learned in the class to their lifestyles. Sustainable Thinking aims to be an experience-based learning opportunity relying on discussions, group projects and hands-on lectures. Majority of class time will be video-taped with student permission in order to create a final “Sustainable Thinking 2012” documentary.
This class will be facilitated by TearNee W. Barker, Psychology major and Mia Shimokana, German major. For more information please contact TearNee at or Mia at
Since this class is not yet on SPIRE please contact Mia or Tierney to register. The first class will be held in Prince, on the first floor in a room called The Spot.

Student Taught Colloquiums for Fall 2011


STPEC 291N: Sustainable Thinking
Rose Boyko, Tosca Drum
Tues 7:00-10:00 pm
3 credits mandatory
This course is intended for students who recognize the relevance of sustainablity and are looking to play an active role in understanding and bringing this idea to the forefront of individual and institutional action. the first goal of the course is to form a foundation in sustainable principles, drawing from multi-national interpretations presented in policy, philosophy and spirituality. We will then move into gaining perspective on the different uses and applications of these principles. The course will also critically examine some of the major issues arising from unsustainable practices and relate what we have learned to potential mitigation strategies. Finally, by looking at innovative and replicable solutions from around the globe, from eco-design and biomimicry to activism and community movements, we will consider what actions we can take, given that we've understood their full implications.
This class will be facilitated by Rose boyko, PSIS student, and Tosca Drum, BDIC student. For more information please contact Rose at or Tosca at


Student Taught Colloquiums for Spring 2011


STPEC 291L: Ruptures with Eurocentrism
Don Lippincott and Kevin Lamory
Wed 4:40-6:15
2 credits mandatory pass/fail
Schedule # 19363
The goal of the colloquium will be to look at the thinkers, writers, and artists of the post-WWII period and to find the moments where these white intellectuals began to look toward the movements of colonized people, particularly East Asians, African, African-descended peoples, and their struggles for liberation as not only something to take seriously but something they might follow rather than simply presuming to lead. By examining this particular historical moment, we will call attention to this extremely significant rupture and explore the ways in which it led to radical shifts in the political and cultural frameworks of western thought (i.e. Sartre's support for Algerian liberation and the introduction he wrote to Frantz Fanon's "The Wretched of the Earth").
We will explore how this distinct experience became a point of rupture which led to a distinctly new form of social consciousness for all sorts of radicals in the US and in Europe. And, not insignificantly, I will attempt to demonstrate how, when these white European men finally made the effort to step back (at least partially) and really listen, it had enormous political consequences all over the world.
The questions we will ask throughout the course are: How did we get to this place? Where did this consciousness come from? What made it possible? How did it disrupt the functioning of certain types of supremacy and exploitation? In what ways did it fail? And, perhaps the guiding thread which aims to bring it into the present: Can we create another rupture akin to this (albeit very different) in our own time and place?
This class will be facilitated by STPEC students Don Lippincott and Kevin Lamory. For more information on this class please contact Don at

STPEC 291M: Tech-Nationalism: Digital Identities in the 21st Century
Josh Sowalsky
MonWed 12:20-1:10
2 credits mandatory pass/fail
Schedule # 19566
Is technology changing the relationship between citizens and nation-states? In this course we will investigate that question. We will discuss technological innovations that first enabled national unity and trace subsequent technological innovations that have shaped and continue to shape the state-citizen relationship. We will study innovations in security and surveillance technologies that have helped fortify state controls and discuss the implications of those controls. Conversely, we will also investigate the technological innovations – from cell phones to Twitter - that have potentially empowered citizens. Additionally, we will study recent contemporary issues in human development and the impact of technology upon impoverished communities, as well as the relationship of those communities to their nations. Finally this class will seek to problematize social movement theory in light of technological innovations. We will parse, in depth, the propulsions of recent social movements in China and Iran and attempt to explain the role that technology has played in those movements. DISCUSSION INTENSIVE.
This class will be facilitated by Josh Sowalsky who is a Political Science student. For more information on this class please contact Josh at

STPEC 291N: Sustainable Thinking
Adrien Tofighi, Nicholas Daly
Mon 7:00-10:00 pm
3 credits mandatory
A holistic approach to sustainability, this course is designed to understand the "big picture". The effects of globalization and rapid development have opened a door of opportunity for humans. As a species, we have only started to realize the consequences of our actions – this course is intended to track the cause and effect and change the cause by addressing our mental modes. First we will look at the importance ecosystems and services from nature, and then we will look at how these cycles, services and functions have been disrupted by humans as well as how this is affecting us, in the global north and the global south context, and how they affect one another. From there, the course will dive into the moral aspects of becoming a sustainable society, how we perceive our needs, our desires, and our need to find a collaborative harmony between our species and the rest of nature, this will include an analysis of ecopsychology and the new spiritual shift. Finally, we will be looking at what actions we can take given that we’ve achieved this shift in perception, we will look at innovative and replicable solutions from around the globe, from personal mastery, eco-design and biomimicry to activism and community movements. The goal of this course is to address the true meaning behind acting “sustainably”, thus before performing an action we need to understand and address its purpose and foundations, only then can we live in a more holistic and balanced world.
This class will be facilitated by Adrien Tofighi, STPEC student, and Nicholas Daly, Plant and Soil Science student. For more information please contact Adrien at or check facebook for “UMass Student Interest in Sustainable thinking Course” event.

Student Taught Colloquiums for Fall 2010


STPEC 291E: Slavery Today
Benjamin Durfee
TuTh 4:00-5:15
3 credits
mandatory pass/fail
Schedule # 79158
This course will examine modern slavery and its impact on the world today. In a discussion based setting, we will asses slavery's evolution in recent years and its incorporation into local and international systems. After a brief survey of slavery though the late 1800's and 1900's, class will focus on current issues around the globe and in the U.S. as well. Structured around the economics, politics, and the social problems of slavery, class analysis will be thorough and holistic. Through this analysis, students will have the insight to decide for themselves what it means to exist in a world benefiting through slave labor and what we can do about it.
This class will be facilitated by Benjamin Durfee, a Political Science student. For more information on this class you may contact Ben at

STPEC 291J: Food Movements
Nicole Brownstein/Nora Murphy
MWF 2:30-3:20
2 credits
mandatory pass/fail
Schedule # 79370
This class follows the socioeconomic and political policies surrounding the food industry. We will focus on the causes of certain food movements and how they affect food consumption in the United States. We will also discuss food origins and the environmental effects, nutrition and health concerns surrounding food, and how certain race and class structures influence food availability and variety. We will look at all steps of food production from earth to plate and back to earth. PS We will have snacks!
This class will be facilitated by Nicole Brownstein, a Comp Lit/STPEC student and Nora Murphy, an Anthropology student. For more information on this class you may contact Nicole at or Nora at


Student Taught Colloquiums for Spring 2010


STPEC 291D: Worker Cooperatives: an alternative model for business and community
Isaac Fairbank
Tuesdays 5:00-6:00 pm
1 credit
Schedule # 58712
This class will examine worker owned and run cooperatives, beginning with an outline of the concepts and ideals of worker coops, followed by a brief history. It will then look at some examples, both internationally and locally. Class time will also be devoted to specific decision making practices and interaction within and among coops.
This class will be facilitated by Isaac Fairbank, STPEC student.

STPEC 291F: Prisons, Race, and the Social Order
Donald Lippincott
Wednesday 4:30-6:00
2 credits
Schedule # 58989
This student-led colloquium will explore the racial, economic, and disciplinary roles of imprisonment and the prison from its historical origins in the 17th and 18th-centuries into the present, with the American judicial/penal system since the late 1960s as our primary focus. Readings will include theoretical works, sociological studies, as well as narratives written by prisoners themselves. We will utilize three major frameworks in developing a critique of the prison: the prison-industrial complex, racialized incarceration as a modern "peculiar institution", and the disciplinary/surveillance society. The aim of the course will be to foster a critical perspective of the prison system and explore means of resistance to its domination.
This class will be facilitated by Donald Lippincott, STPEC student.

STPEC 291G: G-d in Governance
Noah Hershey
TuesThurs 11:15-12:30
2 credits
Schedule # 58988
The purpose of this course is to critically look into the commonly held notion that a religious democracy is inherently unfair. This will be done by examining the interplay of religion and law in governments through the
lens of the society’s treatment of ‘minorities’ (those who do not subscribe to or are not empowered by the religion of the government). Certainly religious democracies face obstacles to impartiality, but are the unfairness of these democracies a result of the religion associate with? To answer this question we will look at the case studies of England, Austrailia, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran.
This class will be facilitated by Noah Hershey, Legal Studies student.


Student Taught Colloquiums for Fall 2009:


STPEC 291B - Public Space, Public Identities: Identity in the Urban Landscape -
Azeen Khanmalek
TuTh 1:00-2:15
2 credits
Schedule # tba
This course will explore the role of space in urban areas. The course will be centered on the discussion of public vs. private space, the role each plays in our lives, and how the formation of this space affects the identities of citizens in urban areas. Implicit in this discussion are questions of what is the city, who does it belong to, who is space for, what role public space plays in urban life, how it is created, and how it creates a normalized public identity for the urban resident. We will explore how global economic orders affect the view of space and the built environment in urban areas, and the role of space and the borders it creates plays in shaping the identity and character of a place and the people within it. We will start with a look into issues of
identity and territoriality on a global scale, and move down to the local. A part of the course will also focus on the politics and policy of public space.
Azeen Khanmalek is a Political Science major at UMass Amherst.
For more information, Azeen can be contacted at

STPEC 291C: The Great American Road Trip - Steven Hoeschele and Kerstin Egenhofer
Thur 4:00-5:00
1 credit
Schedule # 40426
This course will examine the American road trip through books and films (shown outside of class) in a fun and thought-provoking series of discussions rooted in social theory, anthropology and economy. Key to analyzing the texts will be identifying the power dynamics and privileges that are implicit in taking a road trip and examining how unfamiliar cultures are documented and represented through the "tourist gaze." We will critique the road-tripper as ethnographer: a participant observer or simply a participant or an observer. We will ask about motivations for and processes of the trip: with or without a mission, simply for escape, as a coming of age ritual, etc. We will also interrogate the materiality and ideology of the trip: travelling with comfort or "on the margin," four-wheeling or "hoofing it," going with the familiar or seeking local "authenticity." Here we wish to tie in critiques of economic centralization. Additional course themes include: the future of the road trip with peak oil; manifest destiny and "goin’ out West;" the role of drugs; the road-tripper as ambassador/culture broker; perspectives that are left out, based on race, class and gender.
This class will be facilitated by Steven Hoeschele, STPEC student, and Kerstin Egenhofer, Anthropology student. For more information contact Steve at or Kerstin at

STPEC 291E: Slavery Today - Laura Reiman and Kimberly Ovitz
TueThur 4:00-5:15
3 credits
Schedule # 40415
This course will thoroughly examine real situations of contemporary slavery throughout the world, beginning with a recent historical analysis of slavery with discussions of proposals for ultimately ending slavery. We will research slavery in the past and present asking critical questions about political economy and its ties to modern human trafficking. This class will give insight to the production of every day materials such as chocolate, coffee, rugs, bricks, and charcoal, which are likely made by the hands of the enslaved.
This class will be facilitated by Laura Reiman, BDIC student, and Kimberly Ovitz, STPEC student. For more information contact Laura at or Kim at


Student Taught Colloquiums which have been offered in the past include:

STPEC 296E: Slavery Today
Spring 2009
Facilitated by Steven Hoeschele
This colloquium examined real situations of contemporary slavery throughout the world, with approximately 60% of the geographical focus being on Africa.

Propaganda in Film, Print, Art and Music
Spring 2008
Facilitated by Steven Hoeschele
This colloquium examined the techniques of crafting propaganda as well as its application to small and large scale populations, while keeping in mind its effects on the individual psyche. Theoretical approaches to propaganda were analyzed as well as its practical implications.

The Nexus Magazine
Fall 2007; Team Facilitated
Fall 2005; Facilitated by Nate Kupel
Students wrote, edited, designed, managed and publicized a community magazine.

Originality in Society, History and Culture
Spring 2005
Facilitated by Cirilia Rose
This colloquium asked; what happens when rebels become archtypes and subcultures cliches?

Bluegrass and Traditional American Music
Fall 2004
Facilitated by Silas Lowe, Michael Hoffman and Anthony Pasquarosa
This class was a mixture of scholarship and music playing; focusing on the works of Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Flatt and Scruggs, Frank Wakefield and Dock Boggs and looking at musical trends from traditional Irish Music and African American field hollers up to newgrass and contemporary acoustic music.

Body Politics: An Exploration through Feminist, Gender and Queer Theories
Spring 2004
Facilitated by Alex Hirsch and Leah Perloff
This colloquium examined the re-conceptualization of the body, feminist politics, and queer inquiries in contemporary political theory.

Rethinking Race at Umass
Spring 2004
Facilitated by Andrés Gomez and Erin Lemkey
This course used critical race theory and popular media to encourage a deeper analysis of how race is conceptualized and lived in American culture and society.

Social Change Through Community Action
Fall 2001
Facilitated by Meir Hamilton
This course examined various approaches to community activism in depressed areas through a combination of readings, analysis, discussion and hands-on experience, with a focus on making connections between larger social issues and local community action.

South African Society: Politics, Music, and Biltong
Fall 2001
Facilitated by Geordana Weber
This course examined the salient political and social trends that outline South African culture.

Global Resistance: Exposing and opposing the Free Trade Area of the Americas
Spring 2001
Facilitated by Tuck Young
This class focused on the effects of international trade agreements beginning with General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) then moving on to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and finally addressing the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americans (FTAA).

Take me to your Hegemony: Politics and Identity in Science Fiction
Spring 2001
Facilitated by Karl Zimmerman
This course looked at two areas of politics and identity in science fiction; the traditionalist realms and the challenging of the status quo.

Anarchist Theory and History: 200 Years of the Black Flag
Spring 2001
Facilitated by Ed May and David Minassian
This course sought understanding of recent Anarchist actions and tactics through a review of Anarchist theory, practice and revolutionary history.

The Democratic Myth
Spring 2001
Facilitated by Brian Sandberg
This class examined expectations of ourselves as citizens in a democracy and asked; What needs to be done to make the Myth of Democracy in the United States a reality?

Women's Work: A Photography Project
Fall 1998
Facilitated by Adrianne Zahner
The object of this colloquium was to create a photography exhibit that served women and the community by making the wide spectrum of women's labors visible and accessible to the community.

Radio as Political Expression
Fall 1998
Facilitated by Paulomi Dave
This course discussed different methods of expression and focused on providing a forum for a group of culturally diverse students who are dedicated to positive social change. Each student produced 3-4 cultural radio segments and had the opportunity to fulfill air clearance requirements for WMUA.

Fall 1998
Facilitated by Seth Diamond and Bron Tamulis
This colloquium explored the definition and history of anarchism, the problems inherent in its political ideology and the potentials of its forms of organization.

Building a Women's Voice in Radio
Spring 1998
Facilitated by Carrie Roche
This course explored the possibilities of constructing a "collective women's voice" in radio.

Political Street Art of Northern Ireland
Fall 1997
Facilitated by tim Fadgen
This course presented an overview of the history and politics of Northern Ireland through the political art of the region.

Gay Marriage in Hawaii: Baehr vs. Lewin
Fall 1996
Facilitated by Dawn Arthmann
This colloquium looked at legal and civil rights precedents in the Baehr vs Lewin "gay marriage" case.

Radical Discussion in a Conservative Age
(Critical Discussion focused on Critical Thought in Relation to Contemporary STPEC)

Spring 1994
Group Facilitated
This colloquium drew connections between classroom theories and their application to the world at large. Contemporary issues and possible actions to address these issues were discussed.