Feb. 22, 2023
Give Me a Noun
The building blocks of language and the history of science come together in Jonah Brucker-Cohen’s interactive installation “WordPlay,” at the New York Hall of Science in Queens through Wed., March 15. Brucker-Cohen, Lehman associate professor of digital media and networked culture, has created a way for users to invent new scientific facts and statements in a “Mad Libs”-inspired game supercharged with color, sound, and light.
Brucker-Cohen works at the intersection of art and technology, often using cell phones and other digital devices to enable public participation. This latest project uses color-coded RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) cards printed with parts of speech.
“I wanted to lower the barriers to entry for people to engage with the project without needing any device of their own to contribute,” he said. “Also, this translates well to the New York Hall of Science where close to 90% of all visitors are grade-school age and would not have access to mobile phones.”
In WordPlay, a user is prompted to choose from groups of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs printed on the cards and add them to the system though a specialized console. The chosen words are displayed on a screen and then remixed with a randomly-selected scientific fact or a statement by a prominent scientist. Approximately 100 selections are in the game’s database.
Once a statement is completed, the usually absurd—and often oddly poetic—remix is displayed onscreen, along with the original. One player’s interaction, for example, yielded a new take on global warming: “ghost kind, is the rinse of earth's clean bathtub strong due to poison pizza that build in the island like a turn cream, grow the park beautiful and causing the tech to obey up.”
Every result, printed onsite for players, is also shareable through a unique URL. It is also uploaded to the project's Twitter account and website, where the public can read what was created inside the exhibition space in real time.
Dec. 7, 2022
An Outstanding Academic Title from the School of Education
Radical Care: Leading for Justice in Urban Schools (Teachers College Press) by Lehman professor Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen has just won the 2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Title award, which is granted annually by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association.
Choice is a monthly journal published by the ACRL that serves the nationwide network of research libraries. According to its website, the Outstanding Academic Titles list "reflects the best in scholarly titles, both print and digital, reviewed by Choice during the previous year and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community." Only ten percent of approximately 5,000 works reviewed in Choice each year receive the distinction.
In her book, Rivera-McCutchen, associate professor in the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Literacy, and Special Education, argues that top-down education reforms—class size reduction, for example—fail to address problems often endemic to urban schools that reproduce educational inequality. To cultivate meaningful teaching and learning experiences, she says school leaders must reimagine and then construct the humanistic conditions that support them: authentic relationships; antiracist practice; a belief in the capabilities of students and teachers; a strategic use of power; and the courage to hope for a future where everyone can thrive.
The book has been welcomed by urban educators. Bronx assistant principal and School of Education alumna Emma Carcamo recently told McCutchen, “I can’t explain how impactful and reflective reading your book has been on me. As I continue to find and use my voice, I am unpacking prior work and life traumas and experiences to give my community my best every day.“
“I’ve been deeply gratified to hear from educators across the country, ranging from preK-12 to higher education faculty, about how the book has given them practical strategies for transformative change in their institutions. Receiving the 2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Title award further validates my belief in this work,” McCutchen said.
Nov. 16, 2022
What Else Is New In 2022-2023? 35 Full-Time Faculty
Thirty-five full-time faculty have joined Lehman College’s ranks this academic year, thanks to hiring initiatives supported by New York State’s $1.2 billion budget allocation for CUNY in April 2022. The New Lecturer Initiative, along with funding for additional tenure-track faculty lines, enabled Lehman to hire 28 lecturers and seven tenure-track professors representing five of Lehman’s six schools.
They include scholars, artists, and researchers brand-new to Lehman, as well as former adjunct professors who were hired for full-time positions. The majority are faculty of color; the College has prioritized building a strong cadre of teaching and research faculty that mirrors the diverse cultural backgrounds of its student body.
At an Aug.19 orientation, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success Peter O. Nwosu welcomed the cohort to their new “college family of teachers, scholars, advocates, and activists.”
“You have joined an institution dedicated to the ‘Lehman Promise’; a commitment to a social justice mission, where faculty engage, educate, and empower students, transforming their lives and igniting new possibilities in them,” Nwosu said.
When asked what sparked their interest in Lehman, incoming faculty members cited its mission, guiding values, and outreach efforts.
“I was drawn to Lehman to join the transformative efforts in the [School of] Education and to build community with CUNY students,” said Atasi Das, assistant professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Childhood Education. “The creative, rich, and bold histories in the Bronx are inspiring [and] I am looking forward to learning from and building with faculty, students and community partners at Lehman.”
Cindy Bautista-Thomas, a new doctoral lecturer in the Department of Social Work, felt a similar excitement. “What drew me to Lehman was the robust curriculum in so many areas and the way in which the college is committed to the Bronx community's growth,” she said. “I am looking forward to meeting my new colleagues and students and contributing to the great energy that is already here.”
Thanks to the hiring initiative, Lehman expects to further expand its faculty by bringing on an additional 14 lecturers and seven assistant professors in 2023-2024.
Nov. 11, 2022
Students and Community Benefit From This Award-Winning Program
Lehman’s Director of Experiential Learning Lawrence Fauntleroy (center) and colleagues from the College's School of Continuing and Professional Studies attended the Continuing Education Association of New York's CEANY22 conference on Wed. Nov. 9, where they accepted the Exemplary Credit Program Award on behalf of Lehman's Upskilling program.
The program, launched in the spring of 2021, is a collaboration between Lehman’s new School of Business and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies that offers relevant, short-duration, skills-based training to meet job demands for qualified workers in high-growth industries.
“College prepares students more than they know for their careers,” said Fauntleroy. “Critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and learning skills are exactly what employers look for.” But, he said, that doesn’t make up for missing skill sets. “The Upskilling project allows us to address the gaps between education, industry, and workforce development.”
The program benefits Lehman students in a number of ways, said Dene Hurley, interim dean of the School of Business.
“You could be a social work major, and if you want to know how to do data presentation, you could take that class,” she said. “Or you might want to learn how to do digital marketing. You can take that one-credit class. Sometimes students just need one credit to finish a degree program. Why not take an Upskilling course, which will also expand the skills you can put on your resume? It serves many purposes.”
Upskilling is a CUNY-wide initiative, but Lehman’s version of the program is unlike those at most CUNY institutions, which initially were limited to students. From the get-go, in keeping with its community-focused mission, the College enhanced the program to serve a broader Bronx public. Along with students, the program is designed to attract alumni, people seeking a career change, and those who are unemployed. Matriculated Lehman students earn one credit per course, and all students earn a digital badge.
What really makes the Lehman program different is the classroom, which includes students and members of the wider community—each bringing their own interests, goals, life experiences, and pre-existing skills into the mix. This creates a richer learning environment for everyone, Hurley said.
“We see the benefit both ways, for the students to learn from the community members, who may already have some experience in the area, and for the community members to learn a little bit about Lehman and connect with us,” she said. “That’s a service for them too.”
Nov. 10, 2022
A Smashing Good Time Was Had By All
Lehman College and the New York Botanical Garden were partners in crime once more for the annual post-Halloween Pumpkin Smash on November 4. The first full-fledged squash-squashing since 2019, the event drew students, faculty, staff, and community members—an Associate Dean was even spotted launching a pumpkin with a trebuchet.
The Pumpkin Smash is a project hosted at Lehman in partnership with the New York City Compost Project and the New York Botanical Garden to promote environmental sustainability.
“We incorporate many elements of environmental sustainability such as education and outreach, composting and recycling, food and nutrition, to name a few,” said Director of Environmental Health and Safety Ilona Linins. In addition to the NYC Compost Project and the New York Botanical Garden, the Herbert H. Lehman Food Bank, Student Government Association, and student clubs participated.
Members of the College community dropped pumpkins off the upper-quad platform onto a tarp below or hurled them across the quad using a trebuchet. The debris was collected for onsite composting with fallen leaves, which is an environmentally-friendly alternative to landfill disposal. Linins demonstrated the composting process for visitors.
While free vegan pumpkin bread and a bicycle-powered smoothie machine fueled the mayhem, the opportunity to drop a pumpkin was not the only draw. Participants also took home colorful heirloom varieties and a collection of healthy recipes.
Pumpkins for the event were supplied by the New York Botanical Garden. To see the smashing in action, watch NBC 4 New York's coverage of the event. More photos are available here.
Nov. 10, 2022
Cultured Meat: The Happiest Meal?