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“公立学校”,保罗•拉米雷斯乔纳斯克莱尔Bishop and the 2017 class at the Vietnam Memorial, Lower Manhattan, debriefing after their meeting with a NYCLU lawyer who explained their First Amendments rights as artists, and what they can (and can’t) do legally on the streets of New York. (Photo by Paul Ramírez Jonas)

How can higher education be reimagined in the aftermath of Covid-19? Can teachers, students, policy makers, and the public collectively envision a new concept of formalized learning that is even better than what existed before the pandemic and its ruinous economic state of emergency? Or will we henceforth be forced to Zoom our classes online as the already fragile infrastructure of higher education is sold off, brick by brick, for privatized, corporate profit? What will it take to repair the disastrous social disorder wrought by years and years of neoliberal, winner-takes-all policies that have suddenly become visible in all their grotesque opportunism?

As a City University of New York professor at Queens College, I and my colleagues have struggled since 2016 not only with worsening financial austerity, but with falling foreign enrollment as we scrambled to prevent currently enrolled students from Iran and other so-called Muslim countries from being deported. Now, with our ongoing crisis triple header of viral contagion, financial contraction, and top-down political subversion even thinking about a better educational future seems impossible. Still, as a character in John Mandel’s prophetic, post-plague-apocalypse novelStation Eleven坚持认为,“生存是不够的。”

Environmental artist Bethany Fancher demonstrates water absorption between loose and structured soil and taste tests organic and non-organic apples with participants at SPQ GreenLab, Governors Island, 2019 (photo courtesy SPQ).


Such an expansion won’t come easily and will require a retooling of leadership at every level of the CUNY institution. Even before the Covid-19 mass quarantine CUNY faculty and students felt rising pressure to sideline arts and humanities learning in favor of curricula focused on Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM). While these are indeed important disciplines, it is too easy under current circumstances to imagine an overly narrow educational agenda taking on an even more preeminent stature as universities seek a return to the normality of pragmatismuber alles.


Urban studies professor Rafael de Balanzo workshops theories of sustainability and resilience thinking design with participants at SPQ GreenLab, Governors Island, 2019. (photo courtesy SPQ)

One existing alternative pedagogical pathway towards realizing this objective has already been blazed by an informal and growing network of interdisciplinary arts and humanities instructors who use an approach typically identified as socially engaged art. This procedure consists of a set of theories and practices that borrow from a range of cultural forms — public art, performance, installation, eco-feminist, queer and disabled design and so forth — as vehicles for environmental recovery, critical urbanism, social justice and community resiliency. It’s also an approach to learning that is deftly paired with other fields: from urban studies to hard science.

Why art? Because artists are frequently compelled to manage economic precariousness using skills and strategies that lead to imaginative life-preserving solutions which can ultimately play a central role in rebuilding the post-pandemic educational system.

南迪尼Bagchee. “Chino Garcia with The Carts Project / El Proyecto de Carritos” Loisaida Festival (2019) (image courtesy of the artist)

Take for example the experimental spaces that CCNY Associate Professor of Architecture南迪尼Bagchee描述为“反体制”:艺术家和活动家建立合作“叛乱,基层的压力下提供的直接成果和产生权力的其他论坛社区的努力。”Bagchee的研究和教学重点放在这样的预新自由主义实体ABC No RioCHARAS/El Bohio, both founded on the Lower East Side in response to New York’s staggering fiscal crisis of the 1970s. There is a great deal to glean from such interdisciplinary efforts, including how to approach resiliency by grafting concrete solutions onto an aesthetic of inspiration in order to repurpose urban spaces for local needs, as Bagchee’s research and teaching reveal.

Or consider the specifically sited social practice of艾丽西亚格鲁利翁,教师在两个皇后学院视觉艺术学院。她布朗克斯导向%的绿化和活动总部项目汇集版画,教育学,对话,以便集思广益找到“艺术和文化是如何与平衡的生态,社会和经济成功的想法搞。”在这种文化的研究工作中的每个元素放大了下,产生与其说是顺利地集成统一,为部分重叠的想法,材料,地点和学习的方法生产的混合体。

Workers Art Coalition, “Muscle Memory”(2019), solar elements were later added with the aid of the IBEW
Local Union #3 pointing to the role of renewable energy in Labor’s Future. The piece is on
permanent display at the IBEW headquarters in Flushing New York (photo courtesy of Workers Art Coalition).

Likewise, SUNY’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies art faculty Barrie Cline has been involved in a multi-year engagement with artist collaborator Setare Arashloo and a group of electrical, wood, and sheet metal union workers including Jaime Lopez, Paul Vance, Stephanie Lawal, Bobby Andrew amongst others. Their collective, known asWorkers Art Coalition(WAC), is a seriously sly spin on the Art Workers’ Coalition of the late 1960s, only this time involving actual workers who make art rather than artists seeking to be regarded as workers. WAC’s collectively produced projects combine oral histories, street pageants, sound collage, and elaborately fabricated sculptures of metal and light for the People’s Climate March that focus on such issues as the creation of quality green jobs and the争取15(as in dollars per hour for a just minimum wage). Education for a post-Covid world will have to draw together ecological enlightenment and cultural research in a context of fair labor compensation, and WAC offers one model by which cooperative affiliation produces practical, artistic, and pedagogical effectiveness.

Forced to make do, to repurpose, recycle, to be activists and reinvent their tools, techniques, technologies and ideas, while simultaneously crossing disciplinary borders and upending known paradigms in the midst of crisis, socially engaged cultural practitioners and educators are among the best equipped instructors for preparing students to enter that unknown country lying right up ahead. Socially aware artists of color are especially attuned to this dual role of being marginalized while actively reinventing methods of personal and community survival and enhancement under precarious circumstances. When collaboratively linked with underfunded communities this learning model could also become a pedagogical wellspring for a new generation of innovative leaders, not only within the fine arts, which is a field desperately in need of diversification, but also beyond, as we face the practical challenges of reimagining life in post-Covid societies.

这种干预跨学科是肯定察觉Shani Peters”‘人民的洗衣店剧院’(2013年)由洗衣店项目,这本身就是城市空间如何创新文化可以改变每一天到社区资产的例子委托的工作。彼得斯,谁在城市学院教授,​​把她影院项目中,Harlemites应邀交互与独立的媒体筛选程序,因为他们去洗左右折叠衣服洗衣店内。该顶峰时刻来到时,彼得斯要求当地居民在一个豪华的红地毯压轴,如果存在的话每个人都被当作一个大人物,名人的活动参加。

同样的,多才多艺的纽约市立大学梅德加·埃弗斯学院助理教授Darrel Holnesnot only teaches, he also takes part in criminal reentry programs, and has founded The Greater Good Commission supporting Black and Afro-Latinx theater writers (and he plays sax). Above all else, Holnes is an eminent Panamanian-American poet and playwright who speaks of his pedagogically oriented theater as an act of “compassion; everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to have their say.”

“公立学校”,保罗•拉米雷斯乔纳斯克莱尔Bishop and the 2019 class in the park near Stuy Cove, during a “Parcon Resilience” workshop with Andrew Suseno (photo by Public School)

目前几十个课程横跨纽约市立大学(以及其他纽约地区的高校)是积极探索艺术和社会正义的教育已经存在。约翰Krinsky和希拉里考德威尔的Minor in Community Change Studies在纽约市的大学向学生介绍组织,研究和建模工具使用社会变革社会的替代品,和方法公立学校是一种混合型的工作室和研讨班从纽约市立大学研究生中心共同制定了由亨特学院的艺术家保罗·拉米雷斯纳斯和艺术史专家克莱尔·毕晓普。此前流行拉米雷斯乔纳斯,主教和学生在课堂上永不满足,而是采用了全市五个区的校园,以探索公共和公共空间,包括墓地,渡轮,法庭,污染水道和纪念碑。在一个点类走上以测试有关接触彼此的身体安慰自己的水平在爬公园家具。我们能想象一个更好的方法来测试城市设计,同时重新思考和催化我们的公共领域这一概念?(虽然显然这是需要重新思考向前去讲pandemically的转让)。目前,主教和拉米雷斯乔纳斯是换装公立学校以适应后Covid耐力项目名册适当的社交距离。而且还有现在十年之久的举措社会实践皇后(SPQ),其合作伙伴皇后学院的学生与皇后美术馆相结合的艺术支持举措挂钩environmentalism,community histories,城市研究urban design, and evenhematology.

In addition, dozens of interdisciplinary art and social justice courses are taught regionally by professors such as Dipti Desai, Avram Finkelstein, Amin Husain at NYU; Todd Ayoung, Aliza Shvarts, Caitlin Cahill and Ann Holder at Pratt Institute; Lydia Matthews at the New School; Caroline Woolard at The Cooper Union; Declan Van Welie at SVA; Daniel Tucker at Moore College; and I could also invoke similar courses and programs in Portland, Tacoma, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Maine, as well as Canada, Ireland, and the UK. There is a wide-range of faculty who teach discipline-crossing, community-focused education via fields such as new media, legal studies, performance, information technology, ecological urbanism, agriculture as well as the hard sciences generating a potentially rich matrix for reimagining education after Covid.

This is the moment to put new resources behind such imaginative, interdisciplinary arts, and humanities education in order to reinvent and re-envision real world fixes for a society suddenly confronting decades of faltering educational, cultural, economic, and political policies. Survival alone will never be enough.

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