City Classrooms: How Barnard Classes Take Advantage of New York City

City Classrooms: How Barnard Classes Take Advantage of New York City


New York City is the ultimate college town! Currently, 594,000 university students attend undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs in all five boroughs. Morningside Heights, the Manhattan neighborhood where Barnard is located, has the highest concentration of educational institutions in the world. There’s truly no better place to be a college student!

Everyday, Barnard students can be found downtown at an internship, hanging out in an art gallery with friends, or seeing a Broadway show. Additionally, Barnard classes provide many opportunities for students to use New York as an exciting platform for learning. In environmental science classes, students often collect water samples from the Hudson River or soil samples from Central Park. Students in art history classes frequently visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Dance classes even take students to Lincoln Center for performances by the American Ballet Theatre or New York City Ballet.

Below, I have compiled a list of Barnard classes that really take advantage of New York City as a platform for learning. Please enjoy!

Science in the City / Arts & Humanities in the City (Education): These two seminars in Barnard’s Education Department teach students how to develop more effective educational pedagogies in urban environments. Science in the City / Arts & Humanities in the City gives students an opportunity to spend the semester working as a student-teacher in a local NYC elementary or middle school. Students get to take part in the planning and teaching lessons and take their kids on field trips to local museums or educational centers.

Dance in New York City (Dance): Dance in New York City is a popular course that uses New York City's dance scene as a laboratory for understanding the culture and history of specific New York communities. Students observe the social environments in which various modes of dance works are created while researching the history of dance in New York City. Almost every week, students attend a free performance in the city, and come together to discuss its relationship to dance histories and cultures.

The Hudson: The Estuary, River, and Environment (Environmental Science): This class explores the relationship between the ecosystem and human habitation of one of the great rivers in New York. Through an interdisciplinary and exploratory approach, students discover the relationship between the Hudson River and many phenomena in Environmental Science, such as geological origins, habitats and plants, the invertebrates, water supply and sewage treatment, industrialization, conservation, and landscape transformations.

Economics of New York City (Economics): Economics of New York City analyzes spatial aspects of urban economics, regional, and even international economics by studying New York City as a whole, as well as specific neighborhoods and boroughs. Students are encouraged to use their experiences and studies of New York to bridge the gap between economic theories and real-world observations and applications.

Design Futures of New York City (Architecture): This class in Barnard’s Architecture Department introduces students to design culture through a series of lectures, discussions, guest talks, collaborative design work, and field trips throughout New York City. Students get to observe design innovations throughout New York, from contemporary architecture to graphic art and digital design.

Home Is Harlem - Romare Bearden (Africana Studies): Six artistic and cultural institutions in Harlem have partnered with Barnard to create site-specific learning experiences for students, in what is now called The Harlem Semester. This semester, the Romare Bearden Foundation joined Barnard’s Africana Studies Department to develop a new Harlem Semester course: Home is Harlem - Romare Bearden. This class introduces students to the artistic legacies of the Harlem Renaissance through the collages of renowned artist, Romare Bearden. Students take multiple field trips to local galleries and collections, the Apollo Theatre, and Schomburg Center to explore how Harlem inspired Bearden’s art.

Modernism in the City (First Year Seminar): This first-year seminar explores modernism in New York City through an interdisciplinary study of literature, art, architecture, music, and dance. From studying the poetry of Langston Hughes to the music of Stravinsky and dance style of Alvin Ailey, Modernism in the City develops students’ imaginations of New York culture in the twentieth century. The class involves a number of excursions to museums and shows in New York City.

Harlem in Theory (Political Science): Harlem in Theory is an advanced, seminar-style Political Theory course that joins a two-thousand year tradition of doing philosophy in and for the city. The course views Harlem through thematic, philosophical, and methodological frames by employing political philosophy, critical frameworks for interpretation and historical, and social scientific and literary works about Harlem. Students’ research on the subject is supplemented by film, music, and periodic trips to various Harlem venues, such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

American Monument Cultures (Art History): American Monument Cultures introduces the history of monument culture in the United States, focusing on monuments related to three controversial subjects:  the Vietnam War, the Confederacy, and the “discovery” of America. The class takes two field trips to important sites of monument culture in New York City, and students are encouraged to conduct research for their essays and multimedia projects in “offsite locations in New York City.”

Witches (First Year Seminar): In this first-year seminar, students analyze written and visual texts to develop a deeper understanding of the witch and the anxieties about gender and power that they represent. At the end of the semester, students attend the hit Broadway musical, Wicked.

Writing and Journalism on Campus

Writing and Journalism on Campus

Unbeaten Paths: Lesser Known Fields of Study

Unbeaten Paths: Lesser Known Fields of Study