STPEC Course Descriptions Fall 2016


Special Note:  students must receive a grade of C or better in a course for it to count towards the fulfillment of their STPEC requirements.



Note:  These are two of several courses which will fulfill the STPEC Social Theory Pre-requisite.  For other options please see the STPEC Recommended Course List.

STPEC 101:  Introduction to STPECKatherine Mallory

            TuesThurs 11:30-12:45                        3 credits, graded                                Schedule # 71242

This course will familiarize new students with the program and its vision. STPEC is a rigorous, democratically run, interdisciplinary academic program. STPEC is also a community of students, staff, instructors, alumni, and friends that will help you navigate your time at UMass. Ideally this course will also familiarize us with each other.
     The content of this course is organized around concepts students will encounter in their other STPEC requirements, as well as in the STPEC community and the greater world. It will provide an introduction to social theory, political economy, race and ethnicity, gender, masculinities and femininities, globalization and inequality in the Global North and the Global South.  Assignments facilitate exploration of these and related topics.  Students will have the opportunity to learn the value of social theory and  how to make an argument; communicate for effective dialogue, and how to begin to identify social justice issues.

     STPEC 101, like STPEC's core classes, is seminar-style. This means small groups with an emphasis on discussion and reflection. This class is open to STPEC majors only and is a graduation requirement for the major.

            Katherine Mallory is STPEC’s Chief Undergraduate Advisor and Internship Director.

STPEC 190A:  Introduction to Radical Social Theory in Historical Context Graciela Monteagudo

            Wednesdays 4:00-6:30 pm                 4 credits, graded                                 Schedule # 71245                   

This is an introductory course to radical social theory. Our focus is the history of social thought in the West, and the postcolonial critiques of some of these ideas. In this course, students will learn that "radical" means "at the root," and radical social theory is theory that explains the roots of social inequalities and proposes ways of transforming society to achieve justice. As a General Education course, our goal is for students to have the opportunity to discuss key societal issues through a variety of disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, history, economy, African-American, Native American and gender and sexuality studies. Through analysis of readings and films, we will explore the connection between cultural processes and power in the West and the implications for non-Western people on a global scale and on different times and places.

     This course fulfills the History and Global Gen Ed requirements.

            Graciela Monteagudo is the STPEC Associate Director. 



STPEC 320: Writing for Critical Consciousness - Ethan Myers

          Thursday 4:00-6:30 pm                              3 credits, graded                                 Schedule # 71240

The STPEC Junior Writing Seminar focuses on individual development of voice.  We will weave this theme through standard essay assignments, weekly response papers, cover letters and resumes, and a student-driven class project of your choosing.  Since you and your classmates with be struggling together to find your voices, we’ll focus on peer-editing and tutoring techniques at the beginning of the semester.  As we discuss peer-editing, we may consider issues of language and dialect, Black English, Standard Written English and feminism.  The second half of the semester will focus on political, environmental, educational, cultural, and philosophical texts.  Throughout all assignments I expect to see cultivation of your voice and communication of your own creative ideas.  I encourage integration of ideas from your other courses and experiences.  Be prepared to think critically and examine texts carefully.  We will be sharing our writing with each other – be ready to give and receive constructive feedback. This course meets only once a week; do not plan to miss any classes.

            Enrollment is limited to 20 students.  STPEC majors only.  Prerequisite:  College Writing or equivalent.

      Ethan Myers has a Master’s Degree in Literature and American Studies from UMass Amherst.



STPEC 391H: STPEC Core Seminar I - Graciela Monteagudo

            TueThur 2:30-3:45                             4 credits, graded                                 Schedule # 79183

This seminar is the first in the yearlong STPEC Core Seminar Sequence.  STPEC Core Seminar I focuses on major theoretical currents in political theory and the historical circumstances that gave rise to those theories-in particular Liberalism, Marxism and Anarchism.  STPEC Core Seminar II will analyze contemporary social movements in the context of these (and other theoretical apparatuses).  As this is an interdisciplinary class, we will be bringing in analytic tools from various disciplines- including economics and political theory-but always paying attention to the historical construction and reception of ideas.          

            This is a four credit honors course.  Enrollment is limited to 25 students.  STPEC majors only.  PREREQUISITES:  One Intro to Social Theory course and one Intro to Political Economy Course chosen from the STPEC Recommended Course List.             

            Graciela Monteagudo is the STPEC Associate Director.

STPEC 392H: STPEC Core Seminar II - Shakuntala Ray

          TueThur 2:30-3:45                              4 credits, graded                                 Schedule # 79184

The second half of the STPEC Seminar sequence, STPEC Core Seminar II focuses on a series of interrelated political, social and theoretical movements of the 20th Century. In STPEC Core Seminar I we studied some of the driving forces behind the production of modernity as way to organize and understand the world. STPEC Core Seminar II will pay particular attention to the way in which the political practices and philosophies of the 20th Century relate to the successes and catastrophic failures of modernism in complex and contradictory ways. Some of the topics addressed include the Russian Revolution, totalitarianism, anti/post-colonialism, the role of identity in political theory/practice and postmodernism. A major research paper of the student's choosing will be produced over the course of the semester allowing her/him to both (1) more deeply engage with a topic, including one that may not be discussed in the seminar, and (2) practice applying the critical methodological and theoretical tools developed in the STPEC curriculum.

            This is a four credit honors course.  Enrollment is limited to 25 students.  STPEC majors only.  PREREQUISITE:  Completion of STPEC 391H (the semesters may not be taken concurrently).  This restriction will be enforced.

      Shakuntala Ray is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at UMass Amherst.




All seminars are four credit honors courses.  Enrollment for each seminar is limited to 20 students.  STPEC majors only.  PREREQUISITE FOR ALL SENIOR SEMINARS:  Completion of STPEC 391H with a grade of C or better (may not be taken concurrently with any Senior Seminar).  This restriction will be enforced!

STPEC 491H: Making Space: The Role of the Built Environment in Social TransformationMyrna Breitbart

            Tuesday 4:00-6:30 pm                        4 credits, graded                                 Schedule # 79233

Built environments reflect prevailing social priorities. At times, they are also useful in challenging those priorities and demonstrating the possibility of new and more equitable social and economic relationships. This course examines historical and contemporary examples of urban planning and creative place-making that intentionally employ the built environment to address social issues, educate, support new social relationships, or actively foster social imaginaries through experimentation with alternative ways of living and working. Through case studies, we explore critical planning practices that address such issues as the privatization of public space, affordable housing, and gentrification through temporary occupations and transformations of public space, youth-driven experiential environmental activism, and tactical urbanism, among other strategies. We also consider the importance of a sense of place for diverse urban residents, and the potential of a variety of participatory design and intervention methodologies. Opportunities will be provided for individual and/or collaborative research, class facilitation and presentations.

      Myrna Breitbart is a Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at Hampshire College.

STPEC 492H:  Achieving Equality and Social Change Sarah Cantillon

            Wednesday 4:00-6:30 pm                               4 credits, graded                     Schedule # 71241
The world is experiencing massive economic and political upheavals that have been compared with other periods of change, such as 1848, 1969 and 1989. How can egalitarians contribute to this change? How can we resist austerity for those who are already badly off and promote equality locally and globally? The aim of this STPEC Honors Seminar is to provide an opportunity for students to discuss egalitarian theory and activism and to reflect on their own activism. The first five seminars are reading based, and focus on some of the key issues which are important to consider in attempts to achieve social change. The remaining seminars consist of presentations by students analysing case studies of attempts to achieve change, which may be cases within your own personal experience. The final seminar of the series is designed as a forum for discussing where you will go from here.

     Sara Cantillon is Professor of Gender and Economics at the GCU Glasgow School for Business and Society and Director of the WiSE Research Centre. Previously, she was Head of the School of Social Justice and Director of the Equality Studies Centre in University College Dublin.



STPEC 498Y: Exploring the Intersection of Theory and Practice – Katherine Mallory

            (aka “Practicum”) No Class Meetings                                                            Schedule # 71229

    This course fulfills the STPEC internship requirement.  Students in this course undertake an internship of 120 hours or more in an organization of their choice, and engage in critical reflection on their experience.  Fieldwork placements are identified and arranged by each individual student and must be approved by the instructor.  Students are encouraged to use this class as an opportunity to synthesize knowledge gained in the classroom and test its applicability to “real life” situations. 

      The primary written assignment for the course is a 12-15 page (or longer, depending on credits) final paper emphasizing critical analysis of the student’s experience in the organization and/or the organization itself.  Analytical themes may include (but are not limited to): the interplay of organizational structure and mission; the strengths and weakness of various means of working for social change; the impacts of economic and/or financial conditions and structures on the organization; and dynamics of race, class, and gender both within the organization and in its interactions with the larger community.  All students are required to apply an analysis of race, class, and gender.

    To enroll, submit a completed STPEC internship contract before the end of add/drop.  (Note: you must meet with Katherine and get her approval of your placement before you turn in your contract.  She can be reached at



STPEC 494PI: Praxis - Katherine Mallory

            Wednesday 11:15-1:45               3 credits, graded                                          Schedule # 71219

This course teaches students to apply social theory to the real-life experience of their required STPEC internship. As an integrative experience (IE) course students are encouraged to draw on knowledge acquired in prior Gen Ed and core STPEC courses to explore connections between theory and practice as they analyze various aspects of the organizations. Class structure and assignments promote group communication, multi-disciplinary dialogue, and critical self-reflection. Course assignments focus on a self-designed project related to the student's internship placement and include multiple peer-edited drafts of a critical analysis of the internship, a self-reflective essay, an oral presentation, and a final cumulative paper.                         

          Katherine Mallory is STPEC’s Chief Undergraduate Advisor and Internship Coordinator



The following courses do not fulfill any STPEC or University requirements

STPEC  191STPEC1 section 2: FYS - The American Nightmare: Police Killings & Incarceration in the U.S. - Graciela Monteagudo       

           Thursdays 4:00-4:50 pm                       1 credit graded                                    Schedule # 71266

   STPEC First Year Seminar: Open to first-year SBS students

This seminar will examine the complex intersection of race, gender, sexuality, mental health, and class to understand the phenomenon of police shootings and high rates of incarceration in the United States. A final paper will allow students to pursue a related topic of their choice.
Throughout the semester, students will work in groups and present on different topics connected with the theme of the course.                        

Graciela Monteagudo is the STPEC Associate Director.


STPEC 198Y: STPEC Office Staff Internship

      Mondays 2:30-4:00 pm                             2-3 credits pass/fail                            Schedule # 71259

Advise current and prospective majors, participate in staff meetings, and help with other aspects of running the STPEC program. Provides the opportunity to become intimately involved with decision-making and program development.  Requirements include helping with peer advising, reception and general office tasks in the STPEC Program Office, a written evaluation paper at the end of the semester, attendance at several skills seminars and weekly attendance at the STPEC staff meeting.  Students are also encouraged to engage in special projects of their own design which will be beneficial to the STPEC community.  Eighty hours per semester for two credits or forty hours for one credit, pass/fail.  STPEC majors only.  To register please speak with Katherine Mallory, STPEC Internship Coordinator or Deborah Reiter, STPEC Program Coordinator.

STPEC 291X: Executive Committeetba

student meetings: every Wednesday from 2:30-3:30 in the STPEC Library

full meetings:  Fridays, October 21 and December 2 from 3:00-6:00        1 credit, mandatory pass/fail                                 Schedule # 71218

Enrollment required for students serving as representatives to the STPEC Executive Committee.  Requirements for credit include: attending an orientation session and all student representative and full Executive Committee meetings, delivering weekly announcements to designated STPEC courses and, in STPEC courses in which they are enrolled, facilitating a 15 min forum prior to both full Executive Committee meetings.


STPEC 497P: Praxis Katherine Mallory

            Wednesday 11:15-1:45                       2 credits, graded                                 Schedule # 71232

    This optional two-credit course is limited to students who are working on their STPEC internship requirement (STPEC 498Y).  It is designed to provide support, structure and feedback for students writing their final internship paper.  This course will NOT fulfill the Integrative Experience requirement.

    Students in this course write four short (3-5 page) papers on assigned topics related to their internships.  Tentative topics include: mission, history and vision; organizational structure and funding; Marxian labor analysis; institutionalized oppression.  Reading assignments are short.  At the end of the semester, students can compile and revise their papers for the final paper for STPEC 498Y.


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

Students may offer a colloq (for 3 credits - graded) or take a student taught colloq (for 1 credit - pass/fail).  Any students wishing to offer a colloq for the Fall of 2012 should speak with Deborah Reiter, Program Coordinator, as soon as possible.


STPEC 298Y, sections 1-3: Practicum            (1-12 credits, mandatory pass/fail)                  No class meetings       

STPEC 398Y, sections 1-3: Practicum            (1-12 credits, graded)                                      No class meetings       

      These two options are for students doing elective internships (i.e., this course does not fulfill the STPEC internship requirement).  The primary differences between the courses are grading (STPEC 298Y is pass/fail) and recommended final paper length: students in STPEC 298Y write about 2-3 pages per credit, and students in STPEC 398Y write about 3-4 pages per credit. Students in these courses receive one credit for every 40 hours of work that they complete in an organization of their choice.  They must find a faculty sponsor who is willing to grade their written work and submit a grade.  The STPEC Internship Advisor can provide assistance with finding placements and faculty sponsors, but this is ultimately each student’s responsibility.

      To register, speak with Katherine Mallory (the STPEC Internship Advisor) and complete a STPEC Internship Contract by the end of add/drop.  She can be reached at