STPEC Course Descriptions Spring 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.


STPEC 101:  Introduction to STPEC – Katherine Mallory

    TuesThurs 11:30-12:45 am     3 credits, graded             Schedule # 61163

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.

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


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

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

Wednesdays 4:00-6:30 pm     4 credits, graded               Schedule # 69620

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 is one of several courses which will fulfill the STPEC Social Theory Pre-requisite.  For other options please see the STPEC Recommended Course List.  This course fulfills the History and Global Gen Ed requirements.

      Graciela Monteagudo is the STPEC Associate Director.


STPEC 391H:  STPEC Core Seminar I – Shakuntala Ray

    TueThur 2:30-3:45                             Schedule # 69115

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 # 69114

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 # 61142

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: The Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings – Omar Dahi

    Tuesday 6:00-8:30 pm                            Schedule # 69113

The Uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have had a profound impact on the political economy of authoritarian regimes within the region as well as academic frameworks used to explain them. However, the optimism of the Arab uprisings was quickly replaced with more sober and pragmatic thinking about the future brought upon by the realities of regime resilience, the challenges of democratic transformation, and the myriad domestic and international forces engaged in counter-revolutionary activity.  This course examines the economics of the MENA region and asks the following questions: Do the uprisings represent failures of the developmental state, neo-liberalism, or authoritarian regimes? How does human development within MENA compare to other regions in the developing world? To what extent does either religion or oil explain economic outcomes? What impact will the upheaval associated with the uprisings themselves have on the economies of the different countries? What are the long-term legacies of the Arab Uprisings? The course will explore these questions through theoretical readings, case studies from Syria, Egypt, and the Gulf.                    

Omar Dahi is an Associate Professor of Economics at Hampshire College.

STPEC 492H:  Decolonizing Performances (of resistance) – Claudio Moreira

    TuesThurs 11:30-12:45                            Schedule # 61164

What is Decolonizing Inquiry? What is Performance (auto) Ethnography? How can we think about Performing Ethnography? This performance-based seminar will focus on the implications of decolonizing emancipatory epistemologies for critical, interpretive inquiry. Drawing heavily in the works of Dwight Conquergood, Norman Denzin, and D. Soyini Madison, we give a rest to traditional forms of qualitative inquiry as we disrupt the notion of "business as usual" in the academic space. We will examine the interpenetrating relationships among performance, ethnography, and culture. More, we will focus on the relationship between everyday life and decolonizing performances. We will explore how communication in everyday life may be understood using performance as a metaphor and method of study. We will also look at how decolonizing performances are informed by everyday experiences. We will discuss culture as a continuous performance, from the “ordinary” speech of an individual to the elaborate rituals/practices of groups and organizations. We will look at how these everyday performances construct and maintain culture. The readings and assignments forefront localized critical pedagogy, critical personal narratives, decolonizing and interpretive inquiry as moral, political discourse. From the everyday space where gender, race, class, and performances intersect, we will examine how the practices of critical inquiry can be used to imagine, write and perform a free democratic society.  

    Claudio Moreira is an Associate Professor of Communication at UMass Amherst 


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

    (aka “Practicum”) No Class Meetings                    Schedule # 61146

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 # 61161

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 198Y:  Peer Advising in the STPEC Office

    Mondays 2:30-4:00        1-3 credits                        Schedule # 69756

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.

STPEC 291CA: Putting Your STPEC Education to Work – Leslie Saulsberry

    Mondays 5:00-6:30 every other week beginning 1/25/16                Schedule # 70121

    1 credit, mandatory pass/fail                       

This course will explore different avenues for putting a STPEC education to work after graduation. It will meet every other Monday from 5:00 to 6:30. Students will have the opportunity to meet STPEC alums who have pursued a variety of career paths and will participate in workshops to identify what constitutes "purposeful work" for them and how to find employment that accords with their values and goals.

    Leslie Saulsberry is an Ed.D. student in the School of Education at UMass Amherst.

STPEC 291T: Critical Theory and Social Change: Confronting Racism in the Contemporary U.S. – Sigrid Schmalzer

  See description for times        1 credit, mandatory pass/fail                Schedule # 70404

The centerpiece of this 1-credit, P/F class will be participation in a two-day workshop on the UMass campus. The workshop will comprise three sessions, all of which are mandatory for enrolled students. On Thursday, March 24th from 4:00-6:00 p.m., two distinguished scholars, Mariana Ortega and Touré Reed, will deliver keynote addresses. On Friday, March 25th, local scholars will lead small-group discussions on the issues from 11:00 to 12:30. After a lunch break, all participants will reconvene for a closing plenary from 1:30 to 3:30. Students enrolled in the class will be expected to complete a set of preparatory readings prior to the workshop, and following the event will complete an analytical paper that engages meaningfully with the readings and presentations.

STPEC 291X: Executive Committee – Sigrid Schmalzer

student meetings: Wednesdays 2:30-3:45 weekly    1 credit, mandatory pass/fail        Schedule # 61160
full meetings:  Fridays 3:00-6:00 pm  - February 26 and April 8 only            

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 # 61155

    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