Citation Needed

Weekly Round-Up of the CUNY Commons



The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly. -F. Scott Fitzgerald


EdSurge had a feature article about the CUNY Games Network, highlighting the power of a networked research community born at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and they setup up shop right here on the Commons.

When four professors from the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) started collaborating on game-based learning (GBL) in developmental math and writing instruction in the mid-2000s, they had no idea what they were setting in motion. Today, more than 160 GBL researchers and practitioners contribute to the dynamic CUNY Games Network (CGN), housed within the City University of New York (CUNY), with its more than 540,000 students on 24 campuses.

The power of networking is something the Grad Center continues to double down on, in the long tradition of Writing Fellows, Instructional Tech Fellows, and Digital Fellows, it was cool to learn about the Social Media Fellows being led by Chris Caruso. I owe my own career to CUNY’s Instructional Tech Fellowship, so seeing the ongoing support for these programs is very encouraging, and dare I say forward-looking.


Speaking of Fellows, last week the Digital Fellows did a session on establishing your online scholarly presence, something near and dear to my heart:

Upcoming Workshop (9/22): Establishing a Digital Academic Identity and Intro to WordPress

And this Thursday they will be running another workshop on “The Lexicon of DH.”

Upcoming Workshop (9/29): The Lexicon of DH

Speaking of GIFs, I found a link to a story on the Fair Use & Copyright blog from back in March about an artist who cut Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey into 569 GIFs and uploaded them in order on Giphy to test whether GIFs could be considered fair use given the lack of audio and 256 colors.


The project reminded me of a more recent exploration of re-working film culture, namely the “Of Oz the Wizard,” a recut version of The Wizard of Oz that is entirely alphabetized> I know, it makes no sense, just watch it.

And while on the topic of culture and copyright, it is always important to ask “What Would David Harvey Do?” Luckily, you get probably answer that question from the comfort of your laptop given his weekly series on “Marx and Capital” is being recorded and shared freely on YouTube:

U.S. Politics right now.


You certainly don’t need me to tell you shit is ugly, and you could pick from so many topics such as the ongoing police shootings of the black community across the United States. Tressie McMillan Cottom’s post reflecting on what’s been happened in Charlotte, North Carolina is enlightening (as her stuff so often is), and if you are interested, it might be worth a look at her response to labelling Georgetown University’s attempt to come to terms with slavery in their past as reparations. As for the Presidential Race …. do I have to? Actually no, because Tony Picciano has again:

New York Times Editorial: Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President!

And again:

New York Times Endorses Hillary Clinton for President!

I would be praying for November like everyone else if I weren’t so petrified of what looking down the barrel of that gun could mean for all of us.


In other national dystopic news topics, the for-profit higher ed bubble seems to be bursting. The news ITT’s doors would be closing after the federal government refused to provide funding for their students in the form of guaranteed loans has been followed by the loss of recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) —the nation’s largest accrediting body with more than 600,000 students. The implications of this move could effectively devastate the independent college market—not to mention all the students deeply invested in it.

Department of Education Moves to Withdraw ACICS’ Recognition

After the mortgage crisis of 2008 folks warned about the student loan crisis that would follow, I think that’s materializing just about now. And much of it has been fueled by junk for-profit educational institutions and the “governing agencies” that made them possible. Lack of oversight and regulation has cost us dearly over the last decade. And the political ties to the scam run deep, if not President Clinton’s dealings with Laureate University, than Colin Powell’s promotion of Leeds Equity Partners, which owned a major stake in the second­ largest for­-profit college company, Education Management Corporation (EDMC):

Colin Powell’s Hacked Emails Tie Him to the For-Profit Higher Education Industry!

Bush has to own the Mortgage Crisis pushing the economy to the point of near collapse on his watch, and Obama may very well have to own letting the student loan/for-profit crisis get to this point during his tenure. Who has the Secretary of Education for the last 8 years again?


But as always, the Commons cup runneth over, there is much more going on and the excerpts and links below are just a taste of what you are missing.

CFP: “Rust/Resistance: Works of Recovery”

Narrating America in the Contemporary Community College

CFP: Provost’s Digital Innovation Grants 2016-2017

CUNY Petition For A More Flexible Workload For Adjuncts

CFP: LL Journal’s Volume 11, Number 2

MAP: The Meroe Archival Project

Dwelling, Dislocation and the Digital (9/29)

NYPL Reading & Catalog Rooms Reopen

TLC Services: Preparing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Post-Labor Day

“We are not complaining about the work. We want to see our hard work reflected in our pay.”

-Emmett J. Bogdon, President NALC Branch #116 (IN)

Possibly the biggest national and local news in Higher Education is just a borough away. LIU Brooklyn locked out their faculty and staff the Labor Day weekend before classes started. The #LIULockout hashtag on Twitter is one way to track the ongoing reactions, and LIU librarian Emily Drabinski has been regularly updating about the situation as it unfolds. The Nation was the first to cover what seems to be an unprecedented “nuclear option” in higher ed labor relations, and as of yesterday the rest of mainstream media has picked up the story. Hard not to see LIU administration’s gross devaluation of academic labor as part and parcel of a larger national trend towards devaluing and disrupting higher ed work and workers more generally.


The Grad Center’s own Steve Brier was quoted in the New York Times article on the lockout:

“This is an ominous step,” Professor Brier said.

“And it really fundamentally challenges the concept of collective bargaining,” he added. “If L.I.U. succeeds in breaking this union and succeeds in bringing in scabs — there is a giant pool of underemployed Ph.D.s out there — this could have a serious impact, not only on the university faculty, but it could spill out into public institutions.”

In brighter news, according to this post on the The Murphy Institute site labor unions in the Big Apple versus the rest of the country have been fairing well in recent years:

Amid declining rates of unionization nationwide, the Big Apple remains strong, with over 25% of workers unionized.

According to the report, entitled “The State of the Unions,” NYC’s unionization rate has increased steadily over the past three years, from 21.5% in 2012 up to 25.5% last year.

Tony Picciano shared news about ITT’s announced closures earlier this week when learning that their students would not be eligible for federal aide given accusations of abuse and fraud. The closures will effect more than 35,000 students and 8,000 staff, losing over $400 million in annual revenues via federal student aid loans has paralyzed ITT—why isn’t this considered a public institution given it has been a federally funded fraud for years?

Cousin ITT

Cousin ITT

While we are talking about money, labor, and savings, several CUNY community colleges (CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, and Hostos Community College) have joined the nationwide OER degree program “Achieving the Dream” to provide zero cost textbooks for certain degree programs. The money quote from the press release:

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an Associate’s degree. This cost, research shows, is a significant barrier to college completion.

And while we are talking about open, Mark Eaton’s post about exploring open source tools for the Kingsborough Community College library notes how open source technologies, at their best, translate into both better software and a more empowered library workforce:

Building our librarians’ skills is an important long term goal, as is creating software that benefits libraries. So I hope that we can find opportunities to integrate open source tools that meet the needs of our librarians and our communities.

One of the gems I discovered during my reading this week was the CUNY Syllabus project.

The CUNY Syllabus Project has received upwards of 70 syllabi from all over the CUNY system. The next phase of the project calls for an analysis of select data and metadata to identify pedagogical trends across disciplines and across the CUNY campuses.

The data may make for some interesting analysis, but they need more submissions. You can submit yours here. I think I have some O.G. CUNY syllabi from between 1998-2005 I could donate to the cause. While the sampling is still fairly small, some of the preliminary findings are already compelling, such as gender of authors read:


I discovered some other “scraps” of research on Sean Kennedy’s blog, who shared his archival findings after a trip to South Africa. I was fascinated by the discussion and screenshots of East Side (1999), “a fictional series about the integration of a predominantly white Johannesburg high school by students from Soweto.”



I also discovered an essay by Ziad Adwan titled the “The Local Otherness: Theatre Houses in the United Arab Emirates”:

I shall discuss the presence of theatre in the UAE and argue that in cities that celebrate world record tallest buildings, biggest edifices and most expensive constructions, theatre buildings serve as institutions that preserve local identity.

The things you find on your way to the local Dairy Queen!


The Theatre, Research, and Action in Urban Education (TRAUE) journal has made a call for contributions to a special issue focused on the #Blacklivesmatter movement:

This special issue of TRAUE invites readers to lend their voices to an ongoing conversation about race and racism in the United States through a diverse array of forms and approaches. We invite articles, reviews, policy briefs and notes from the field as well as short stories, poems, open letters and photographs. We seek to anthologize diverse perspectives and experiences by engaging topics of identity as it intersects with educational institutions.

And I am happy to report the Bilingual Ed-Techie is still blog, in fact she has commenced a video series on translanguing, a topic of particular interest to me these days having found myself a stranger in a strange land.

And there’s more, always more on the Commons:

Compulsory Affective Labor in Comp Classrooms

Privilege in the Comment Sections: Online Trolling and the Mainstream Media

News You Can Use from Interlibrary Loan

The Counterintuitive and Fraud

Application Launched for the first year of the CUNY Tutor Corps

Welcome back!

Ed-Tech Scars

We were barely out
of middle school
when Stuart showed me the scar—

From Gary Jackson’s “The Family Solid”


The Grad Center’s Convocation and New Student Orientation took place yesterday, and if Twitter is any indicator it was a good crowd. It starts with joy and excited anticipation, the scars come later.

Yesterday also saw a good post from The Grants and Grants Research blog about actual deadlines:

Whenever a researcher approaches me for help with a grant proposal, my first question is always, “when is the deadline?” In truth, the researcher’s idea of the deadline is very seldom the actual deadline. For most researchers, the final deadline is 2 minutes prior to the absolute cut-off time issued by the funding agency.

Blogging truth. But that fact has not stopped Matthew K. Gold from working to secure a NEH Digital Humanities Grant that will develop “an open platform for humanities education.” Congratulations are in order.


Speaking of the digital, the Grad Center’s Teaching and Learning Center has a great guide for newbies on integrating education technology into the curriculum.


When I think of ed-tech, I can’t help but think of blogging. And, as it happens, the Commons has a brand new blogger on, of all things, ed-tech—or to be specific tech and bilingualism. Please welcome Sara Vogel to her new Commons diggs. Research says the more encouragement you provide fledgling bloggers, the more likely they are to take over the world [citation needed].


And even more on ed-tech, the Transformative Games blog takes a look at French billionaire Xavier Niel‘s free coding school:

Can 42 US, a free coding school run by a French billionaire, actually work?

And while on the topic of futurist apocalyptic horror stories, the Political Science department at the Grad Center is hosting a series this Fall about the elections titled “Unprecedented Politics.” Here’s the teaser…

The 2016 election is proving to be an historic one, pitting the first woman nominee from a major party against an outsider candidate who defies his own party. Beyond conventional and convention politics, tensions run high over the deaths of black men by the police, LGBTQ people, particularly Latin@s, are reeling from a massacre at a southern nightclub, and the chasm of economic, social, and political inequality deepens.


Speaking of this unprecedented election, the John Jay Research site has a great new article by Dan Stageman reflecting on the recent news that the federal Bureau of Prison’s will end its fourteen contracts with private/for-profit prison providers, “citing as cause its own August 2016 investigation into the safety and security of these contract facilities.” He links this to Immigration-related prisoner, which remain a “uniquely profitable segment of the private corrections industry.” A timely and informative post, read more here.


And in wrapping up this week’s run through the Commons I want to leave you with an “open educational resource” I found on Artem Altman’s blog, which was a link to this YouTube video uploaded by the School of Life:

Speaking of videos on YouTube, the HBLL blog’s summer teaching series continues. This week it is focused on Open Educational Resources. There are various degrees of specificity when it comes to what’s an OER, but I’d be interested to know what online, free resources folks out there integrate into their courses.


This week’s run through the Commons suggests one of two things: I am inevitably drawn to the the topic of ed-tech despite my best interest to be partial, OR ed-tech is inescapable in this day and age when talking about teaching and learning in higher ed. I tend to think it’s the latter, but maybe I have an ed-tech problem…



Troll Rocks

America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
From “America” by Allen Ginsberg


I have to start this week’s round-up with a nod to Katherine E. Entigar‘s post “Captain America: belonging and fear in Prospect Park”:

Evidently, some Brooklynites are unhappy with this installation (yes, it’s a real statue). Yet I was hugely relieved…and then saddened. How is it possible that over the years, the sight of the American flag plus congregants in open spaces has become menacing?

With a bit less menace, the Commons was smoothly migrated to a new server last Friday without a hitch. Let us know if you experience any issues going forward, but so far so good for this communal set of tubes.


Possibly the biggest news around CUNY last week was the overwhelming majority (94%) that approved the ratification of the new contract. Tony Picciano posted PSC president Barbara Bowen’s letter to the community announcing the news, here’s a taste:

I’m proud to announce that the 25,000 faculty and professional staff represented by PSC will receive long-overdue raises because an overwhelming 94 percent majority of PSC members voted to ratify the new PSC-CUNY contract.

The agreement provides 10.41 percent in compounded salary increases over a period of slightly more than seven years, from October 20, 2010 through November 30, 2017. The raises will be retroactive to April 20, 2012 and will be paid to employees who worked at CUNY between then and now even if they have retired or left CUNY.

That said, the continued sub-standard wages for adjuncts makes this a hard pill to swallow for a large part of the CUNY work force.

The Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages department continues there blog series highlighting resources for teaching and learning around CUNY, and last week they focused on the Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center. Highlighting their office hours, workshops, guides, and much, much more. In fact, the Grad Center’s TLC has recently announced a set of guides for folks that are new to teaching, as well as three course planning workshops on August 19th, 22nd, and 23rd. Boberino has been busy!


Speaking of the coming year, the Student Services blog at the Grad Center provides a list of 10 things to see for new students arriving in the Big Apple. Jennifer Polish announces her move to Laguardia Community College to be part of the first cohort of Fellows for the Mellon Grant-funded CUNY Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance. Mani Garcia has been working on a very cool project to hack a portable, low-cost EEG device. Wild stuff like is a good reminder the future has arrived, it’s just unevenly monitored!

A couple of additional literary gems I discovered on the Commons recently was the Spanish-language literary magazine Enclave and this site focused on mapping NYC’s cultural and literary history—now that’s quite an undertaking! There was a recent post with a link to an article about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s sojourns in Morningside Heights.Maney-Fitzgeralds-Sojourn-in-Morningside-Heights_Page_2

It was also cool to see that CUNY’s Academic Works now has a feature enabling those who have used a particular resource to feedback on its value. And as Adrianna Palmer argues on the GC Library blog, this goes a long way towards helping demonstrate the impact of open access scholarship at CUNY—not to mention fostering community through sharing.


Also, don’t have enough micro-aggressions in your life? They now have a game for that, this I know thanks to Maura Smale’s post about Killing Me Softly on the CUNY Games Network site—the things they call games these days!


Iceland’s Troll Rocks

Finally, to end this week’s newsletter with a last hurrah for Summer, travel, downtime, and troll rocks before the school year starts, Don Sutherland shared some images from his trip to Iceland this Summer. Impressive stuff, the Commons giveth….


It’s In There!

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
“End of Summer” by Stanley Kunitz


With the coming of August there’s been a bit of panic in the academic social mediasphere:

The start of another school year is coming, and Ruthann Robson describes what that can mean for academics in her recent post “August Anxieties: The New Teaching Year Approaches; Is That Article Finished Yet?”:

It’s depressing: Our summer scholarship project(s) may still be incomplete, the deadlines seeming to be rebukes rather than reasonable timetables. Or if we have finished, the end product is somehow not quite as spectacular as we had envisioned in June.

At the same time new year, new courses, new possibilities, and one of the things she recommends is to “reject the idea of a stark separation between ‘summer’ and the ‘academic year,'” pointing to an essay she wrote on the topic that’s readily available on CUNY Works.


And while you’re beginning to make out the silhouette of a new academic year far off on the horizon, you might want to consider a couple of things. First up, the good folks in the Ph.D. Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages (HLBLL) are running a Summer Series on Fall Teaching, and this week they’re showcasing the CUNY Academic Commons, Social Paper, and OpenCUNY. I couldn’t agree with their choices this week more 🙂 Be sure to follow them for more teaching resources in and around CUNY over the coming weeks.


The other event that’s just around the corner is the submission deadline for the 15th Annual CUNY IT conference which will be held December 1st and 2nd, 2016. Have something you did on the Commons you want to share? Did you integrate a technology in the classroom that you’d like to discuss? This year’s theme is “Good Moves in Hard Times,” and the submission deadline is September 15th—you can submit online here.

Good Times in Hard Times

Speaking of conferences, the North American Nietzsche Conference will be held at both Hunter College and the Grad Center this fall from October 14th through the 16th. There is no conference fee, but you must bring your will to power.


One of the gems I discovered this week was Maria Hernandez’s blog Spanish Through Culture, she has integrated her coursework into her blog in some remarkable ways. From the “About the blog” page:

Exploring Spanish Cultures in New York City, is a Civic Engagement assignment designed to address this issue. The students will be conducting an interview with or report on a Hispanic organization, business, community, or individual to learn about the subject’s cultural identity, experience, and stories. The reports, with the subjects’ consent, will be shared with the public on the blog to bring awareness of Hispanic and Latino communities in New York City, which make up 27.5% of the population. This assignment considers storytelling as a practice that bridges cultural and civic engagement, and your participation is essential for it.

This blog is part of a broader way of re-thinking language learning curriculum in professor Hernandez’s classes at Kingsborough Community College, and it is very, very cool! Her recent post on the blog points to what this might look like by providing a link to multilingual pop music by Prince Royce:

In terms of O.G.Commons gems, Tony Picciano writes about everything from “Making Algorithms Accountable” to a report on Hillary Clinton’s record with Teachers Unions to probably the biggest news of the past week: Captain Humayun Khan’s parents speech at the Democratic National Convention.


Speaking of politics and unions, the Murphy Institute blog continues to be one of the most active sites on the Commons. The institute is a partnership between the City University of New York and New York City’s labor unions “designed to serve the higher education needs of working adults and traditional-aged students in their pursuit of advancement within the framework of labor, urban, social, economic, and political issues.” The folks there regularly share reports, jobs, resources, and more on their blog—it’s well worth a follow. Yesterday alone they posted four job opportunities.


And that’s just some of what’s out there. The CUNY Academic Commons could share a slogan with the famed spaghetti sauce Prego: “It’s in there!”

Faith in a Seed

Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has
been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed
there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. —Henry David Thoreau

Well, let’s begin. The Commons knows no vacation, and the activity over the last two weeks during the dog days of Summer is a testament to that fact. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, none of which is lost on the Commons. The pending ratification of the new contract (something faculty, Higher Education Officers (HEOs), and adjuncts have been without for 6 years now) is highlighting the gross inequalities when it comes to adjunct salaries. Old reliable Tony Picciano, discussing the recent Chronicle article on the matter, notes in his post on the article:

It has been American higher education’s dilemma that adjunct and contingent faculty have been paid so poorly.  As the article suggests, the CUNY offer does little to alleviate the problem.

Yet, as Andrea Ades Vásquez notes in her recent post on why she is voting yes for the contract and what it means for HEOs:

We certainly did not get all that we wanted or deserve. However, we achieved raises at the level of other city employees and made other significant advances. And along the way, we built tremendous union power.

I’m not sure I want to even write this, but it looks like there is already talk of actually having a school year! The Student Services blog for new students has posted about the upcoming orientation scheduled for August 23rd, 2016. I’m so old I did my new student orientation at the Grace Building! It looked something like this…

While on the topic of Grad Center events, the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature has published their CFP for their annual conference to be held November 10th and 11th, 2016 at the Grad Center. The topic of this year’s conference is “I <3 Pop,” and their pull quote from Susan Sontag is a keeper:

If I had to choose between the Doors and Dostoyevsky, then—of course—I’d choose Dostoyevsky. But do I have to choose?

Shawn Smith-Cruz’s post on #blacklivesmatter and the power of the primary source. She unearth’s the very first issue of the Black Panther’s Black Community News Service (BCNS) newspaper

…which highlights the fatal shooting of a 22 year old black man, Denzil Dowell, who was unarmed, yet received “six bullet holes and shot gun blasts” according to the BCNS. The article highlights, “‘I believe the police murdered my son” says the mother of Denzil Dowell.’

#BlackLivesMatter and the Power of the Primary

And Ruth Robson believes sex-segregated bathrooms in schools will soon make their way to US Supreme Court.


And as plagiarism has taken center stage before Michelle Obama stole it back last night, Don Sutherland shares how he reduces plagiarism in his undergraduate Strategic Management course.


And David Shapiro revisits the Panama Papers in the form of a rubric assessment for his accounting students.

Panama Papers – Revisited

And if you are looking for more teaching and learning resources, the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy is a regular wellspring of goodness. In particular, Jill Cirasella’s recent review of Paul Martin Eve’s Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future (2014) is a good place to start.

It should be reassuring to know that the development crew behind the Commons is still working hard for you, and last week they dropped the latest version, 1.9.21. Follow the link to see if they are allowing GIFs in comments yet!

Commons 1.9.21

While I covered a bit above, the expansive nature of the Commons means there’s a lot more I missed. If you’re out there, reading this, and know of a good post/blog/story on or related to the Commons that I missed, use the comments below to share the love and let me know. If you are afraid of the maddening crowd, drop me a line at which will help me cast a wider net for highlighting the work happening around the Commons.

Finally, I invite all criticisms, recommendations, and general aspersions for how I might make this round-up more useful. This kind of blogging is new to me, and following in the imposing footeprints of Brian Foote I am going to need all the advice and support you can muster.

In the beginning…


I’ve been blogging for the last five months on the CUNY Commons News blog. I’ve been getting a feel for the community and keeping up with what’s happening around the Commons. That said, I’ve been struggling a bit with how to best accomplish the task of highlighting the work in the community. Seems simple enough, I know, but for some reason it has come a bit harder for me than expected. So, this is my attempt to change up the process a bit and use Brian Foote’s blog as the model—something I should have done from the very beginning. My bad.

As community facilitator for the Commons, Brian did a phenomenal job of interweaving the news of the world with the weekly posts around the Commons. It was seamless. I must admit that I am reluctant to try and put the news of the world at this moment in any kind of focus for fear of being committed, but I’ve been reading his posts and he does a really nice job of walking the line—a balance I won’t necessarily be able to match but certainly will use it as inspiration. I’m not sure how the voice and focus on this site will evolve over the next 6 months, but I plan on giving it a shot. The plan is at least one post about what’s happening around the CUNY Academic Commons every Monday morning for the entire semester. I’m working on my first one for this coming Monday, which will mark the beginning of a new chapter in Citation Needed. I hope it works, because if it doesn’t I’ve been told I won’t get the antidote for the timed-release cyanide capsules the Commons team injected into my bloodstream.

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