STPEC Course Descriptions Spring 2015


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.



STPEC 101:  Introduction to STPEC – Graciela Monteagudo

            Tuesdays 4:00-6:30 pm     3 credits, graded                           Schedule # 11036

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 other 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.

            Graciela Monteagudo is the STPEC Associate Director.




STPEC 391H:  STPEC Core Seminar I – Shakuntala Ray

            TueThur 2:30-3:45                                                                             Schedule # 18263

This seminar is the first in the yearlong STPEC Seminar Sequence.  STPEC 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 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.

            Shakuntala Ray is a Ph.D Candidate in the English Department.


STPEC 392H: STPEC Core Seminar II – Graciela Monteagudo

TueThur 2:30-3:45                                                                  Schedule # 18261

STPEC Seminar II, 392H, is the second half of the STPEC Seminar sequence. This seminar focuses on a series of interrelated political, social, and theoretical movements of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century. We will study some of the major political, economic, and social events paying attention to the ways in which ideologies and political consciousness are constructed and de-constructed in relation to historical events and in oppositional social movements. As this is an interdisciplinary class, we will be bringing in analytic tools from various disciplines.

   This course is designed to encourage students to continue developing the critical-analytic methods and approaches discussed in STPEC Seminar I to some of these centuries' pivotal events. To that end, we will pay particular attention to the Russian, Chinese, and Cuban revolutions, as well as to the Spanish Civil War, May 68 and other events.  Students will also examine neoliberalism (or globalization) in an effort to understand the deep causes of cultural and economic changes the world has been going through in the past decades.

   STPEC Seminar II is an interactive seminar rather than a lecture course. Full and prepared participation is needed and expected. All students are expected to attend all class meetings, arrive on time, read assigned texts, and participate in discussions.

        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.

            Graciela Monteagudo is the STPEC Associate Director.




STPEC 393A:  Writing for Critical Consciousness – Ethan Myers

Wednesday 4:00-6:30                                                                                     Schedule # 11014

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.

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

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




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: Return to the Source:  The Political Economy of Nationalism and Development in Africa

Mwangi wa Githinji

            Thursday 6:15-8:45 pm                                                                       Schedule # 18301

This course will examine the relationship between nationalism the state and development in African economies.  It will begin with an exploration of the foundations of African nationalism in the decolonization movements, followed by the attempts to create African nations out of the former colonies and the role that the colonial inheritance, inequality and ethnicity played.  This will be followed by an examination of the state and its role in the economy.  To do this an exploration of African elites will be undertaken. The course will end by exploring whether a developmental state can emerge in a multi-party election system under conditions of high inequality.                         

      Mwangi wa Githinji is an Associate Professor of Economics at UMass Amherst.



STPEC 492H:  Racialized Bodies – Whitney Battle-Baptiste

            TuesThurs 11:30-12:45                                                                                   Schedule # 18302
This is exploratory seminar in understanding the process and meaning of racialization in the United States.  In our discussion-based format, we will take a critical look at the social meanings and cultural consequences of the idea of the racialized body through history, anthropology, fiction and film.  Our journey begins with mapping out the idea of “Race” in the United States and the mythical racial categories often seen as “natural” or having some inherent biological component.  Our next phase will be to expand how racialization has traditionally been defined and challenge these set categories to include the lived reality of racialization and the process of “Othering” within and around our borders.  Our topics will include racial profiling and the Prison Industrial Complex; understanding the complexities of Whitness; Immigration policy and debates; Islamophobia and the emergence of religious racialization; heterosexism and all that goes with that, and even the recent fascination with everything Zombie and Zombie culture.

            Whitney Battle-Baptiste is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UMass Amherst



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

            (aka “Practicum”) No Class Meetings                                                            Schedule # 11018

    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

            Monday 11:15-1:45 – 3 credits, graded                                                    Schedule # 11033

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.                          To enroll please contact Katherine at or 413 545-0137.




STPEC 291EV: STPEC Events – Sigrid Schmalzer

       Variable times        1 credit, mandatory pass/fail                                                 Schedule # tba

Students will choose from a list of STPEC sponsored and co-sponsored events, attending six and posting comments to a Moodle discussion board.

STPEC 291R: STPEC Brown Bag Activist Lunch SeriesSigrid Schmalzer and Katherine Mallory

            Wednesdays 11:15-1:15         1 credit, mandatory pass/fail                           Schedule # 11035

Brown Bags on:  01/28: No One Leaves; 02/18 Pioneer Valley Worker Center; 03/25 Sexual Minorities Archive; 04/day tbd Prison Birth Project.
 Classroom meetings on: 02/25 and 04/15

For this one-credit course, students will attend four brown-bag lunch meetings with local activists to discuss their work. This is an ideal opportunity to explore the intersection between social theory and political practice, and to begin thinking about internship possibilities. Two other meetings will be scheduled, one before the series begins and the final one after the series concludes. Students will be expected to complete short readings for the introductory and wrap-up meetings and will write a final paper comparing and contrasting the activist approaches adopted by the four speakers or a topic of interest to the student approved by the instructor.   


STPEC 291X: Executive Committee – Sigrid Schmalzer

student meetings: Tuesdays 6:45-7:45 weekly        
full meetings:  Fridays 3:00-6:00 pm  Feb 27 and April 24    
              1 credit, mandatory pass/fail               Schedule # 11032

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

            Mondays 11:15-12:45 - 2 credits, graded                                                                       Schedule # 11027

    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


STPEC 298Y:  Section 4:  Peer Advising in the STPEC Office

Monday 2:30-4:00   1-3 credits                                                                        Schedule # 11030

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 Tyler Rocco-Chaffee, STPEC Academic Advisor or Deborah Reiter, STPEC Program Coordinator.