Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

Summary: Columbia University is offering a new course next semester based on the 'Occupy' movement.Run by the Anthropology department, the class is taught by Dr.

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Columbia University is offering a new course next semester based on the 'Occupy' movement.

Run by the Anthropology department, the class is taught by Dr. Hannah Appel, who has previously spent time camped out in Zuccotti Park with Occupy Wall Street protesters. Even though Appel is a participant, the lecturer believes she can teach the course in an objective manner.

See also: Gallery: Thought-provoking protest and 'Occupy' Tweets

(Source: Flickr)

A flyer promoting the class stated: “The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are catching on across the United states, linking to popular discontent with economic inequality and financial greed and malfeasance around the globe."

Students will be 'going in to the field' for course credit. Participants in the course will be expected to get involved in ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" projects outside the classroom, with 60 Wall Street acting as 'the initial field base'.

The course has been named "Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement." According to the class syllabus, it aims to provide:

“Training in ethnographic research methods alongside a critical exploration of the conjunctural issues in the Occupy movement: Wall Street, finance capital, and inequality; political strategies, property and public space, and the question of anarchy; and genealogies of the contemporary moment in global social movements.”

The course content will be split between seminars and fieldwork. It will also include guest speakers from intellectual and activist communities. Dissenting voices from different perspectives are encouraged.

On her blog, the lecturer defends the movement, arguing: "it is important to push back against the rhetoric of 'disorganization' or 'a movement without a message' coming from left, right and center."

Concerning the risks of fieldwork among protesters, she writes on the syllabus, "I can say with absolute certainty that there is no foreseeable risk in teaching this as a field-base class. On the contrary, the risks of disengaged scholarship seem more profound.”

Looking at the course requirements and book list, many of the names reminded me of my own study as an Anthropology major. Familiar names littered the page, from Malinowski to Clifford. However, it appears to focus mainly on ideology and the use of public space more than the means, which I think is a grave error if one is to understand the movement fully.

Ritualized spaces and the way a city can be used as a space for the 'powerless to become powerful' is all very well, but without studying the modern ways in which the movement spread and was implemented, you miss a key factor.

If social media and networks vanished tomorrow, how would this change the Occupy movement?

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27 comments
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  • I'm sure Dad will be thrilled to learn that...

    the $70,000 per year (http://www.ieor.columbia.edu/pages/admissions/Tuition_Fees/2011-2012.html)he's spending to send his kids to Columbia University is so well invested. Yes, it's pretty obvious that if you're able to attend Columbia and still have time to spend at an occupy protest, that you're going to school on someone elses dime. If you're paying your own way, between classes and working you don't have the time.
    Scubajrr
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @Scubajrr
      If you are too busy to participate in democracy, too busy to stand up for what is right, too busy to stand up for your fellow American, then you deserve what you get. Corporations treated more as people than people, all the freedom you can buy, and you and your children sliding into the third world.

      There are some of us who don't like that idea, though. Even those of us who work full time.
      mdemuth
      • All that may be true...

        @mdemuth
        ...but those who think so can protest on their own time, instead of getting college credit for it.
        John L. Ries
  • Not auspicious

    The instructor is an Occupier herself and "field work" is required? I'm guessing that those not sympathetic with OWS will not get good grades in this class.

    There's nothing wrong, of course, with discussing the issues raised by OWS and other protest movements (including right wing ones) in a classroom setting (or requiring students to write papers on the subject), as long as students are free to make up their own minds, say what they think, and why they think it.
    John L. Ries
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @John L. Ries From what I read they are not going to be allowed to in this class, at least not with a passing great I would suspect.
      non-biased
  • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

    How bloody stupid. How many jobs are out there that need "Occupy" majors? This is an ago indulgence on the part of the stupid faculty. What a waste. <br><br>It's is exactly what's wrong with higher education and why it is a scam.
    drjohnk
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @drjohnk If it's only teaching you what you need for a job, it's not education, it's training. Education, and particularly higher education, is about learning how to think and understand, so that you can be engaged with the world around you.
      If on the other hand, you prefer dehumanised "consumers", who know just enough to screw nut A onto bolt B, for barely enough to keep them alive...
      philculmer
      • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

        @philculmer I fully agree that higher education is learning to think and understand however if this course was offered in more places it should be offered as a GenEd (general elective).
        marksteele
      • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

        @philculmer

        It's useless. Completely useless.
        drjohnk
      • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

        @philculmer My college instructors rarely wanted me to be a free thinker; they wanted me to agree with their philosophies. I learned that early on.
        ParrotHead_FL
      • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

        @philculmer Courses like this have nothing to do with learning how to think for ones self and everything to do with indoctrinating the students into following the professors beliefs.
        non-biased
  • simple indoctrination

    along same lines as the OWS song "supposedly" written by third graders.

    heaven forbid someone in her class has a different opinion.
    harryseldon
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @harryseldon

      Exactly right.
      drjohnk
  • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

    "If social media and networks vanished tomorrow..."

    PLEASE make it happen sooner than later.
    IT_Fella
  • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

    Great. Are they going to teach the students to fornicate in public or excrete on police cars as well?
    benched42
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @benched42

      LOL
      drjohnk
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @benched42

      that is part of the field exercises....
      rcgeckoman
      • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

        @rcgeckoman Technically it's not but she will give extra credit to those that do.
        non-biased
    • RE: Protesters inspire 'Occupy 101' university course

      @benched42

      Only if they can get the current administration to float them a multi-million grant to fund this foolishness. That way all the pseudo-intellectuals and idealists can continue to play on somebody else's dime.
      ExEC135CrewDog
  • Academia trying to advance the liberal agenda, again!

    The OWS movement is full of stupid people expressing uneducated opinions about the economy, and the people vs the "greedy, evil, corporations", while completely disregarding the bigger damage caused on society by big government, which is a bigger reason for anybody not being able to find a job, and a bigger reason for the economy taking a major dive. <br><br>What executives in the private sector should do, when they conduct any interviews of any college graduates, is to examine the college transcripts of those potential employees, and it any of them wasted any time at all in a OWS class, then they should be dropped from consideration for employment immediately. In fact, I'm pretty sure many employers will do exactly that, making the stupidity of the OWS class completely backfire for some. Why would anybody want to hire somebody that comes in immediately with a grudge against corporations and businesses in general. That class is the height of stupidity.<br><br>Now, when it comes to a "popular" movement getting any attention, and even getting a college credit class, why didn't they consider doing the same with the "tea party" movement, which was much larger and a lot more influential, and actually toppled the democrats from control of congress? Apparently, a liberal agenda is much more important to liberal academia. Stupid is as stupid does.
    adornoe