STPEC Course Descriptions Spring 2017


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 STPEC – Katherine Mallory

            TuesThurs 11:30-12:45 PM          3 credits, graded                          Schedule # 11305

    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.  

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 # 11322

    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

            TuesThur 2:30-3:45 PM                     4 credits                                   Schedule # 20590

This seminar is the first in the year-long STPEC Seminar Sequence. Core I focuses on major currents and applications of political, social, and economic theories and the historical circumstances that gave rise to theories such as Liberalism, Marxism, etc. that came to define western modernity up to the 19th Century. We will study some of the politico-philosophical-experiential foundations of liberal, radical, feminist and anti-colonial worldviews paying attention to the ways in which ideologies and consciousness are constructed in historical contexts, and then contested through social movements (i.e. the rise of modern-colonial-capitalist-patriarchal systems and various forms of resistance). 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

        TuesThurs 2:30-3:45 PM                     4 credits                                        Schedule # 20591

    STPEC Core 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 320:  Writing for Critical Consciousness – Ethan Myers

        Wednesday 4:00-6:30 PM                  3 credits                                         Schedule # 11284

        Writing for Critical Consciousness fulfills the Junior Year Writing requirement for the Social Thought and Political Economy program. In this course, students will compose short, “low-stakes” compositions that will lead toward longer, more formal “high stakes” essays. Students can expect to produce approximately 20-25 pages of polished, finished writing this semester. The content of the course deals primarily with the political aspects of language and composition. In seminar-style discussions we will give special attention to some or all of the following questions: How is language related to identity? To knowledges, ontologies, and worldviews? To space and to physical and social environments? To forces and experiences of colonialism, imperialism, neoliberalism, racism and patriarchy? As we explore such questions, we will navigate the conventions of academic rhetoric, and consider composition as a site of resistance. Our course considers the writing process as a political process, and prioritizes peer review and the composition and revision of multiple drafts.  

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.




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: Urban Policy Preston Smith

            Thursdays 4-6:30 PM                          4 credits                                        Schedule # 20471

    Too often gentrification, unemployment, crime, failing schools, disinvestment, and mass incarceration are what comes to mind when we think of US cities.  In response to a constrained fiscal and political environment, cities have increasingly adopted neoliberal policy approaches to address seemingly intractable urban problems. This seminar will study current research to assess the political and economic impact of a neoliberal policy regime on housing, education, and public safety. While US cities have become the terrain for neoliberalization, intellectuals and activists have contested this political economy by generating a set of ideas and actions associated with Right to the City.

Preston Smith is a Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College.


STPEC 492H:  Critical Geography and the Poetics of Resistance - Ruth Jennison

               Tuesdays 4-6:30 PM                         4 credits                                    Schedule # 11306

     This course will examine the field of critical geography. Critical geography is the study of the relationship between capitalism, hegemony, resistance, and the production of the spaces in which people live, work, and reproduce. Our texts will be drawn from the conceptual history of space in historical and contemporary critical thought. We will first ground ourselves in the works of Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, and V.I. Lenin. We will then turn to Raymond Williams’ signature studies of the dominant, residual and emergent cultural articulations of spatial development, Henri Lefebvre¹s generative taxonomies of the social production of space, and David Harvey¹s elaboration of a contemporary critical geography. We will also read recent works on spatial formations specific to: the new regimes of state and population control; securitized borders of settler colonial projects; the reorganization of US manufacturing zones; and the prison economy (Ruth Gilmore, Eyal Weizman, Mike Davis).

    In order to explore the encoding of these spaces in the political and artistic imagination, we will study the traditions of 20th and 21st century revolutionary and anti-capitalist American poetry, asking the following questions: How do poets represent and confront the spatial developments and de-developments that result from capitalist economic crises? How does poetry written during and after the 1960s screen the tensions and interactions between lived spaces contoured by the persistence of historical oppressions (racism/sexism)? How do poets articulate with new forms the emerging spaces of multiracial and multilingual cultures? How can a poem or a poet participate in the production of new, revolutionary spaces, like the commune? We will read works by poets Amiri Baraka, John Wieners, Hannah Weiner, Gwendolyn Brooks, Larry Eigner, Etheridge Knight, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Diane Di Prima, Keston Sutherland, Rob Halpern, Craig Santos Perez, and Uyen Hua.

Ruth Jennison is a Professor of English at UMass Amherst.



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

            (aka “Practicum”) No Class Meetings                                                   Schedule # 11288

    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 PM                 3 credits, graded                         Schedule # 11303

    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 # 11323

    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 Chief Academic Advisor or Monica Garcia, Academic Advisor.


STPEC 291X: Executive Committee – Hoang Phan                                            

         Weekly meeting at a mutually agreed upon time           1 credit, mandatory pass/fail           Schedule # 11302
         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 # 11297

    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 Spring 2017 semester should speak with the Program Director of the STPEC Program, Donna Vanasse, 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