Technology and Sustainable Community Development

If Not Us, Then Who? Student Activism, Past and Present

Documenting Atlanta








 Fall 2018, Georgia Tech

The course website is accessible here.

This class, a “foundation course” affiliated with the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain at Georgia Tech, is open to all years and majors. A project-based, community-engaged course, its partner organization is the Center for Sustainable Communities. In this course, my co-instructor, College of Computing Professor Ellen Zegura, and I guide students in an exploration of the relationships among colonialism, imperialism, and development. We also invite students to consider questions we hope will be key to their professional practice: When does technology improve communities? When doesn’t it, and why? What else matters in the success or failure of technology-based projects? How can engineers and scientists improve their chances of having a positive long-term impact on communities? This course will explore the role of technology in the development of sustainable communities, locally and internationally. Through a combination of historical perspective, case studies, community engagement methods and practice, and critical evaluation techniques, students will develop an appreciation for the strengths and limitations of technology in sustainable community development and the skills needed to approach sustainable community issues drawing on engineering and computing in context.

Fall 2015 & Spring 2016, Georgia Tech

The course website is accessible here.  

In the course, we take a compelling ride through the major student movements of the post-war period, beginning in 1960 and making our way up to the present day. From the fearless nonviolent student activists of the Civil Rights era who endured beatings and bus-burnings to the bold youth of the 1999 “Battle in Seattle” who faced tear gas and riot police, American students of the modern era have a great deal to teach us.  Course aims include engagement with local, student-led social justice campaigns; cogent analysis of the relationship between democracy and public schooling; cultivation of a long, analytical view of student activism across time; and development of students' awareness of themselves as agents of change on campus, in Atlanta, and in the world.

Fall 2016, Georgia Tech       

The course website is accessible here.

This course introduces students to the history of the city at their doorstep.  We focus on particular spaces and places in Atlanta--from celebrated "Sweet Auburn” Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr.'s boyhood neighborhood to the lesser known mill village of Cabbagetown--and together read the texts of these communities.   Guided by the instructors, a film scholar and a historian/ethnographer, this interdisciplinary course engages oral history, documentary film, and built environment studies.  We explore the following key questions: How is knowledge about the city produced, and why does that matter? How do evidence-based texts make arguments about the city? Finally, what is evidence and how do you use, generate, evaluate, and categorize it?  

More information about my Atlanta-focused teaching and assignments can also be found through Teaching Atlanta


Race, Politics, and Public Schools


Spring 2015, Interdisciplinary Studies, Kennesaw State University

This  upper-level, reading- and writing- focused course is intended to introduce students to basic methods in American and Interdisciplinary Studies with public education and race as the site of investigation. Analyzing methods leads us to question how we know what we know. A question or problematic—such as justice in education—explored through two different methods, archival versus ethnographic processes, for example, can produce very different results and revelations.  Students are encouraged to shape projects around their own predispositions, be they those of a documentary photographer or an oral historian. Although not designed as a survey, the course follows a loose trajectory from desegregation struggles of the 50s and 60s in the American South to international justice struggles undertaken by contemporary high school and university students.  Syllabus



American Identities


Fall 2014, Interdisciplinary Studies, Kennesaw State University

This introductory course explores American identity historically and culturally.  Our objective is to develop the ability to “read” American culture through various lenses such as race, ethnicity, class, gender and place.  We also focus on developing the ability to bring such critical analysis to bear outside the classroom—in everything from grocery shopping, to riding the bus, to watching or reading the news—coming to treat such experiences as “texts” about American culture, as well.  We ask in the course both what constitutes/marks/distinguishes American identity and why certain groups, practices, histories and experiences are outside “the pale,” as Frederick Douglass would say, of being American. We study American identity not to reinforce its rightness but rather to interrogate the privileges and power relations that compose it.  Syllabus


African American History and Culture

Spring 2014, Interdisciplinary Studies, Kennesaw State University

This course explores issues in African Diaspora Studies through the history, culture, and politics of black people from the 18th through the 21st centuries. Although we will focus in great part on black Americans, we will also discuss Afro-Caribbeans, black South Americans and of course, Africans.  Diaspora refers to a group of people scattered, moved or migrated from their place of origin. In this course, we use “African diaspora” as a broad way to think about black identity in the United States and other places where the slave trade produced a diasporic black population—such as Jamaica, Haiti, and Brazil. We will explore traditions of resistance in black communities—slave and free—through a variety of historical texts, as well as poems, stories, art work, music, and film.  Our objective is to examine resistance as a dynamic that has dramatically shaped American history and the hemispheric histories of colonialism, imperialism and decolonization.  Students are encouraged to “closely read” the texts and think critically about how black resistance and broader themes of black identity, history, and culture are represented in the media, and how certain definitions of and narratives about blackness have had a lasting impact on not just American, but also global, history, politics, and social movements. Syllabus