Syllabus PDF Version

Course Schedule with readings and assignments

Course Learning Outcomes


1 classroom hour, 4 lab/studio hours, 3 credits

Profs. Nora Almeida (Library) and Christopher Swift (Humanities)

Course Description: This special topics course offers an interdisciplinary approach to investigating our built environment using case studies of specific places in the city. This course combines physical examination with information research and data collection using methodologies developed in multiple disciplines. Students from a variety of departments engage in on-site exploration and in-depth research of a location in New York City.

Course context: This course is an Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts and Sciences Course that applies toward the BTech/BS General Education Common Core College Option requirements. Prerequisites: ENG 1101 and any Flexible Core Course   

Course Materials:

Schiffman, Ronald, et al., eds. Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space. New Village Press, 2012. (ISBN: 978-1613320099). Available on reserve (2 hour on library use) at the City Tech Library (call number: HT 153.B49 2012) and for loan at the Brooklyn Public Library.

You’ll also need: a notebook and a camera to document site visits and approximately $30 for one theater ticket.

Required readings are from the course textbook or accessible via Openlab. A password is required to access readings not available freely online. Check your printed syllabus for this password.

Course Structure: This course combines a series of research seminars with fieldwork, site visits and documentation, and on and off campus research. A combination of individual and team assignments as well as class participation are the basis for the final grade. The culmination of the weekly assignments is a collaborative, scaffolded research project.  


Reading responses (OpenLab Blog)

Blog responses will be posted on the course OpenLab site. Students will be asked to integrate concepts from weekly readings and then post a 150-200-word blog entry. Students should demonstrate their capacity to think critically and analyze texts.

Site Reports

Students will complete three site reports related to themes introduced in class (urban public space, contested space, and performance space). The reports are comprised of two parts and will be completed after a visit to a specific site in New York City. In the first part of the report, students will record observations about the physical aspects of the space: dimension, design, and use. In the second stage, students will research social, demographic, or historical information about the site to deepen their understanding of the place and the social context in which it exists.

Performance Intervention and Documentation (Final Project)

Working in teams, choose an issue you care about, that affects your life or community, and that you believe needs addressing. Compose a research question and gather information about the issue and about past and/or current strategies that have been or are being used to effect change. Drawing from your research, create and/or participate in a live, public performance event with the goal of inciting change, generating awareness of or creating a critical conversation about the issue. Consider: Which community does your issue effect? What is the goal of your performance? What is the significance of the space where your live, public performance occurs? What theatrical  strategies are used and why? What is your role in the performance and who are the other players involved? Finally, who is your audience and how do you encourage participation, either as part of the performance or after the event as actors in the social arena.

Final Project Components:  

Annotated Bibliography

Use your annotated bibliography to record research conducted on the history of the selected issue, the architectural aspects of the place where the performance occurs, and performative strategies used. Include a minimum of 3 sources per group member. MLA format.

Performance and Documentation

Documentation of your live public performance may take the form of a video, podcast, photo essay, or interactive map. Alternative documentation formats will be considered but must be approved by instructors in advance.

OpenLab Project Site

A section of an OpenLab project site will be created by each group, containing an introduction to the project, a summary of research findings, an annotated bibliography and citations for all additional sources consulted, planning and promotional documents related to the performance event, documentation of the live event (see above), and anticipated outcomes of your performative intervention including the impact on the urban environment where it takes place.

Grading: Final grade will be determined according to the following grade weighting:   

5% Class Participation   
30% Site Documentation Reports (3)   
9% Blog entries (3): 3 pts. each   
6% Pop quizzes on reading (2): 3 pts each
15% Final Project: OpenLab Project site
10% Final Project: Annotated Bibliography     
25% Final Project: Performance and Documentation

Attendance Policy: 
It is the conviction of Profs. Almeida and Swift that a student who is not in a class for any reason is not receiving the benefit of the education being provided. Missed class time includes not just absences but also latenesses, early departures, and time outside the classroom taken by students during class meeting periods. Missed time impacts any portion of the final grade overtly allocated to participation and/or any grades awarded for activities that relate to presence in class.

One goal of a college education is to learn how to engage in critical conversation. This skill involves summarizing your ideas persuasively, defending your interpretations with evidence, listening to those who disagree with you, and re-evaluating your claims based on other arguments or evidence. In this class, you cannot demonstrate and further develop critical discourse unless you are actively present in class. Therefore, attendance means not only arriving to class on time but also actively participating.

CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity:
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty when using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.

Accessibility and Accommodations:
If you have a disability or personal circumstance that will affect your learning in this course, contact the Center for Student Accessibility (CSA)  and also let us know so we can discuss options for accommodation. The CSA is located in Room A-237 and their hours and contact information can be found here: The CSA will  provide a written accommodation notice, which we need in order to ensure the learning needs of all students in our class are met.