Category Archives: teaching

A Quick Reading List on American White Supremacy.

With the start of a new school year, a reminder that history provides important context for the present day. Here is a brief, by no means comprehensive, list of books that provide context for our times.

Suitable for General US History Survey Courses:
Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People.

Kalil Gibran Muhammed, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.

Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States.

Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940.

C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow.

Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit.

Suitable for Environmental History and Environmental Studies Courses:
Carolyn Finney, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.

Sylvia Hood Washington, Packing Them In: An Archaeology of Environmental Racism in Chicago, 1865-1954.

…and I will mention that I organized my book Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States (out in paperback on September 1) so that it could be used in either surveys of general US history or American environmental history.

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Pratt Sustainability Studies Minor Resources

PrattEastBuildingA new semester begins Monday, and Pratt students with questions about the Sustainability Studies minor can find some answers in the following places:

What classes count for the minor? We have a list of the permanent catalog courses that may be used for the minor on the minor’s web site.

How do I declare the minor? Check with your academic advisor to ensure you have enough time in your schedule to complete the minor as well as your major and general education requirements. If you do, download this form and arrange to see me. We’ll discuss your schedule, and once I approve you for the minor you can bring it back to your advisor [EDIT] go to Myrtle Hall and turn it in to the Registrar’s Office and be registered.

When do you have office hours? I hold regular office hours Tuesdays noon-2pm in DeKalb 108. I can also make appointments at other times pending my teaching schedule and committee obligations.

Does Pratt have sustainability resources on campus? Yes, all sorts. If you are interested in integrating sustainability into your design process, I highly recommend visiting the Center for Sustainable Design Strategies in the basement of the Engineering building for brainstorming and options on sourcing materials, evaluating material choices, and assessing design options. (CSDS just moved into a new, larger space; go down the stairs and follow the signs.)

Art students who would like to conserve supplies can check out Turn Up Art’s room to get salvaged materials. Turn Up Art is also in the basement of the Engineering building.

The library’s expert research librarians have developed a set of useful LibGuides for pursuing sustainability research. Here’s one for the Sustainable Core course. We have access to several databases relevant to sustainability, including Building Green (case studies of sustainable architecture projects around the world) and Material ConneXion (materials library in Manhattan with searchable database indexed on materiality issues such as durability, toxicity, recyclability, and just about any factor a designer would want to consider for clothing, buildings, furniture, or the range of designed goods). Access is free for Pratt students logged in through the campus network.

Does Pratt have student groups interested in environmental issues? Yes. Pratt Envirolutions meets regularly during the school year; the faculty advisor in 2015-16 is my officemate Professor Jen Telesca. Pratt’s chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) regularly undertakes political action campaigns related to the environment. Pratt students have also worked with groups such as Greenpeace, though the two organizations above have perhaps the most visible presence on campus.

What do I do if I have questions about the minor that are not answered by this page? Talk with me and I will do my best to answer them.

Pratt Sustainability Studies Minor Resources

Registration for Fall 2015 is upon us at Pratt, and the Institute has updated its website. Students wanting to register for sections relevant to the Sustainability Studies minor can click on this link, scroll down to the bottom half, and click on each linked course to see scheduling and availability of sections. Next term, my classes include a Friday morning section of SUST 201 The Sustainable Core and a Tuesday afternoon section of SUST 405 Production, Consumption, and Waste.

Students interested in declaring the minor should speak to their advisor and also to me prior to declaring. The minor declaration form may be downloaded here.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Pratt’s Sustainability Minor (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Pratt_DeKalbAt Pratt, we are fine-tuning our social media, and one of the results of that effort is the new, updated Sustainability Studies minor page. Pratt undergraduates curious about their options in the 15-credit minor can see which courses are required, what electives are offered, and follow links to those courses’ links in the schedule.

The department is likely to expand the list of elective offerings for the minor in the future, and this page is an excellent resource for students curious about the program. If you are interested in the program or its courses, feel free to ask me questions.

Andrew Patner

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Andrew Patner’s author photo for the I.F. Stone biography. Taken about six years after his teaching stint at KAM.

Andrew Patner, who died yesterday after a brief illness, spent decades as a critic, radio host, and author in our home city of Chicago. His death is hitting the city’s arts community hard, as it should. He’s spent decades discussing classical music, jazz, and literature there, and his perspective will be greatly missed.

My experience of Andrew is as a reader, but also as a student.  The year before my Bar Mitzvah, Andrew attempted to herd the cats that were the 12-year-olds at Hyde Park’s KAM Isaiah Israel. Andrew exhibited unending patience with us before moving on to complete his education and begin his career.

My family moved to California the year after my Bar Mitzvah, but I’d occasionally cross paths with Andrew. I read his biography of I.F. Stone with interest when it came out in 1988, saw him at a memorial service for deceased University of Chicago professor Hans Zeisel a few years later, and, when I returned to Chicago, regularly read his work. (Which was easy, as Andrew was prolific.)

About five years ago, shortly after I began teaching at Roosevelt University, I went to the Spertus Institute to see Lee Shai Weissbach discuss his history of small-town Jews. Andrew and his mother Irene were in attendance, so we caught up. My book on the scrap recycling industry had come up in the discussion, and it interested Andrew. He related his family connection to the trade as a cousin of Michigan’s famed Padnos family (whose archival materials had been among the sources I used in my dissertation), and we chatted about the legacy of American Jews in the scrap trade.

His connection to the scrap trade should not have been a surprise; Andrew seemed to have connections everywhere. He was also a friend of Studs Terkel, and when I heard the sad news yesterday, I spent an hour listening to the two polymaths discuss everything from the University of Chicago Law School to Mahalia Jackson. The conversation represented the best of what I remember about Hyde Park, and it’s a good way to remember him.

Spring 2015 Sustainability Classes Begin at Pratt

Pratt_DeKalbThe Spring 2015 semester begins at Pratt today, and students in the Sustainability Studies minor have several options for classes.

Some sections (including SUST 401-01 Power, Pollution, and Profit and MSCI 438-01 Chemistry of Modern Poly Materials) have filled to capacity, but other options remain for Pratt students interested in taking sustainability-related coursework from the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies. (There are also options in other departments; discuss them with your academic advisor.)

I am leading a team of Pratt Institute faculty teaching SUST 201 The Sustainable Core, which remains open for registration.  This course is designed as our introduction to sustainability, is the required core course for Pratt’s Sustainability Studies minor, and is an excellent way to get familiar with the many ways sustainability is practiced at Pratt.

SUST 201-01 The Sustainable Core
This course provides an overview of sustainability by exploring definitions, controversies, trends, and case-studies in various systems and locales (urban/rural, local/national/global). Investigation of critical elements of sustainability, including environmental history and urban ecology, sustainable development and landscape transformations, recycling/waste management, ecosystem restoration, and environmental justice.

Spring 2015: Mondays, 2pm-4:50pm.  3 credit hours.

In addition, Assistant Professor Jennifer Telesca (Pratt’s newest Sustainability faculty member) has two new special topics courses of interest.  The first is SS 490-15 Environmental Justice, offered Thursdays from 2-4:50pm. While aspects of EJ are covered in SUST 201, SUST 401, and SUST 405, this seminar gives students the opportunity to have in-depth discussions of equity issues relating to the environment.

Jen Telesca is also teaching two sections of The Human-Animal Relationship. While the Tuesday section (SS 490-21, Tuesdays from 2-4:50pm) is filled to capacity, SS 490-22 is offered Wednesdays from 9:30am-12:30pm and has spaces available.

There are no prerequisites for any of these courses. If you are a Pratt student and have any questions for me about these courses (or about the Sustainability Studies minor), please feel free to contact me at czimring@pratt.edu.

Tenure-Track Interdisciplinary Environmental Positions at Two Schools

Two of my erstwhile academic departments have tenure-track positions available. I can vouch for both places having great colleagues. They are distinctly different campuses (one in Chicago’s South Loop, the other in the northernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), but both are excellent places to research and teach environmental social sciences.

Before I moved to Pratt in 2012, I helped found the Sustainability Studies program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. RU is looking for a sustainability scholar with a social science background (sustainability, urban planning, environmental studies, or a related field in the social sciences). The deadline for applying is January 5, 2015. You can see full details about the position at the link; here is an extended description of the job:

Roosevelt University is seeking an Assistant Professor of Sustainability Studies for a tenure-track position beginning 15 August 2015. Applicants should have the ability to teach multiple courses in the Sustainability Studies (SUST) undergraduate curriculum as well as general education, honors, and/or special topic courses related to their areas of expertise. Teaching load is six courses per year. Courses are offered at Roosevelt’s Chicago campus as well as online.

Duties: (1) Teaching courses within the SUST major as well as one or two courses per year in an appropriate academic department within the College of Arts and Sciences. (2) Assisting with SUST program development through curriculum enhancement and assessment, service learning project development, community outreach, and online social media writing. (3) Maintaining an active scholarly research program within one’s primary academic discipline(s) and/or the emerging field of sustainability studies. (4) Advising undergraduate students. (5) Performing departmental, college, university, and professional service.

My first job out of grad school was a one-year position in Michigan Technological University’s Department of Social Sciences. Although there’s been natural turnover in the department since I left over ten years ago, it continues to attract some of the best scholars in STS, environmental history, and industrial archaeology. The campus is located in Houghton, a short drive from the northernmost point in the Upper Peninsula. It is an excellent location for cross-country skiing, hiking (including on nearby Isle Royale), and wildlife sighting. In our third month at Michigan Tech, Jen and I saw a black bear cross the road in front of us. (The bear was not in Houghton, but on the road to Marquette. Wildlife in town is considerably less intimidating. You should, however, be prepared for snow.)

Michigan Tech is searching for an assistant professor “specializing in environmental justice, industrial communities/deindustrialization, health, food systems, or gender.” Click the link for the full job description. Review of applications begins January 15, 2015.

Clicking through the links will give prospective candidates an idea of the people, courses, and projects of these two programs. I encourage qualified people to apply.