This course will explore “the family” in relation to cultural identities and political policies in the United States and around the world, combined with a unique opportunity to reach out to and interact with diverse families nearby. With topics including the “Holy Family” to “Father Knows Best,” from Freud’s “Oedipal Complex” to current debates on “Family Values,” from children with AIDS to international adoption, students will analyze changing family socio-economic and psychological structures and the evolving representations of motherhood, fatherhood and childhood in the past and particularly in the present. We will compare public and private efforts to aid families in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world, including the origins and evolution of social work and volunteerism as a form of democratic engagement. Students will grapple with complex “real world” issues as well as their own family identities.

This course will meet only 2 hours a week and require a commitment to volunteer regularly (2-3 hours/week) during the semester. At the request of Project Hospitality, students will provide child care, tutoring and other support to children in immigrant families, including at meetings to discuss labor and social welfare issues and in afterschool programs. Students will write a research paper linking their experience to a public policy initiative.

Finally, students will apply these insights in campus-community dialogues on diversity and democracy, including “Passport to Diversity: A Celebration of International Cultures in Our Community” and the National Dialogue Project “Journey to Democracy: Power, Voice and the Public Good.” Dialogues will involve civic associations on Staten Island in discussions of immigrant families, themselves given a voice, compare resources within a culture of participatory democracy, ret1ect on the college\’s and students’ responsibilities and analyze the structures of power in promoting the public good.

Students in all disciplines are encouraged to enroll.

Books Required:

  • Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.
  • Colin Heywood. History of Childhood: From Medieval to Modern Times. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.
  • Jonathan Kozol. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience ala Nation. New York, Harper Collins, 1996.
  • Jimmy Breslin. The Short, Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez. New York: Crown Publishers, 2002.
  • Barbara Bergman. Saving Our Children from Poverty: What the U.S. Can Learn from France. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Reed Ueda, Post-War Immigrant America: A Social History St. Martins Press, 1994.

Course Requirements:

Your ability to raise questions and express opinions, drawing upon the readings, will be an important component of your grade. You are expected to contribute regularly and to prepare informal presentations. Attendance is required, including at film screenings and designated lectures of the Academic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) program or Dialogues on Democracy project. More than 2 unexcused absences will be penalized as follows: for each additional absence, your final grade will drop by one-third.

Reflective Essay (10%)
Trace your own American family saga, in dialogue with democracy and diversity. Suggested guidelines will follow.

Journal Reflections (10%): During the semester, you will attempt to link specific issues raised in class discussions and readings with specific issues confronted in your placement. Using either the placement or readings as a starting point, write at least 5 journal entries (2 pages each), spaced throughout the semester.

Research Project (40%)
Each student will choose a topic related to democracy or diversity as a lens by which to reflect on their service-learning experience. Research is expected to be of high quality with at least three refereed books or journal articles published since 1985 and at least one oral history interview. You willlikely need to order materials inter-library loan-plan ahead! Tins is a semester-long project: Students will submit a bibliography, thesis, outline and first draft over a period of several weeks. Presentations will be both in-class and, as part of the Dialogue on Democracy project, for invited community members.

Mid-term (20%) and Final (20%): Essay questions. Final exam will be cumulative and include questions on placements.

Course Outline:
Additional readings or videos may be added and other changes made as needed)

1. Week 1-3: Family History: Immigration and Generations

Mon. 8/25 Introduction: Why engage families?
Children’s public/private lives around the globe
Read handouts; discuss research and service projects.
Wed. 8/27 Melting Pot or Mosaic? Integration vs. Assimilation
Read: Gonzalez, Introduction and Chapters 4-5
AND use internet to learn about Hispanic children in NYC and USA
Fri. 8/29 Read: Gonzalez, Ch. 11-12
Video: The Immigrant Experience: The Long, Long Journey (1972)

Mon. 9/1 No Classes (Labor Day)
Plan to visit Port Richmond Area this week
Wed. 9/3 Why History Matters: Creativity and Conflict
Read: Gonzalez, Ch. 1-3
Wed. eve Film screening: My Family/Mi Familia (1995)
Fri. 9/5 Discuss Film. Visit with Terry
Ueda, Post-War Immigrant America, Ch.3

Mon. 9/8 More than Kissing Babies: Economics and Politics of Democracy
Gonzalez, Ch. 10, 13 and conclusion
Wed. 9/10 Essay # 1 due:Your American Family Saga (3-4p.)

II. Week 4-6: History of Childhood

Mon. 9/15 Happy Mothers, Fallen Fathers
Read Heywood: pp.1-40
Wed. 9/17 Read Heywood: ppAl-82 (Guest: Dr. Alison Smith)
Sat. 9/20 Port Richmond Civic Association Picnic (optional)

Mon. 9/22 Brothers, Sisters and Peers
Read Heywood: pp.83-118
Wed. 9/24 When does Childhood End? Labor and Education
Read Heywood: pp.119-l72

Mon. 9/29 Review Family Policy from Nazism to the Present
Read handout
Wed. 10/1 Midterm Exam Due
Sat. 10/4 Freedom Walk

III. Week 7-10: Children in NYC

Mon. 10/6 Classes Cancelled: Yom Kippur Begin Kozol, Amazing Grace
Tues. 1017: 4:15: Dr. Lee Knefelkamp (required)
Wed. American Democracy and Children Left Behind Read Kozol, Ch. 1-3

Mon. 10/13: Columbus/Indigenous Peoples\’ Day Tues. 10/14: Kozol, Ch. 4-5
Wed. Finish Kozol, Ch. 6 and epilogue

Mon. 10/20 Buildings and Fences: Whose Responsibility?
Read Breslin, Short Sweet Dream, 1-53 Wed. 10/22 Read Breslin, 53-103

Fall Break-Work on Projects
Finish Breslin
Late October: Port Richmond Harvest Fair, Veterans\’ Park

Sun. 11/2: Celebrate Diversity! 12-5 (attendance required)
Mon. 11/3: Discuss Celebrate Diversity!
Read: Ueda, Ch 3-4

Weeks 11-15: Public Policy and Children

Wed. 11/5: Begin Bergman, Saving Our Children, 1-49

Mon. 11/10 Bergman, 50-91
Wed. 11/12 Finish Bergman, 91-153

Mon. 11/17 Research Projects Due
Wed. 11/19 Debate:Why Americans are For and Against Family Policy
Review Bergman

Mon. 11/24 International Family Policies: Adoption, Refugees, AIDs Read: handout on International adoption, web research
Thanksgiving Break
Late November/Early December: Dialogue on Democracv: Required

Mon. 12/2: Debate: Why Americans are For and Against Immigration and web search pro and con (eg. Pat Buchanan)
Wed. 12/4: What\’s Next?

Final Exam: Date TBA

Your American Family Saga A 3-4 page essay
Due: Wed. 9/10 (Bring to class)

Using the examples of the Gonzales or Sanchez Families, trace your own family’s evolution in contact with democracy and diversity. If possible, discuss these issues with a family member (but remember to handle oral history evidence with care.) Read all the questions below but focus on those most revealing of your family saga.

Discuss a family member’s voyage to America and adjustment to the new culture, society and economics. Consider issues such as housing, employment, push/pull motives, discrimination, gender, age, language, education, employment, health/abuse, voting, reliance on public support, socio-economic mobility, intermarriage, contemporary political and economic context.

How did gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and/or religion affect their adjustment and that of the second, third and/or later generations? Review issues listed above. What is their most important accomplishment? What was their greatest barrier to success? How did they change over time as America and the world has changed?

What changes in cultural values and socio-economic concerns can you trace between first generation immigrants in your family and their descendents?

Are your ancestors’ ethnicity, language, religion or culture still important to you?
Do you or other family members speak to each other in a language other than English? How informed are you of the culture and politics of their country of origin, past and present? Give specific evidence: for example, can you name the top political leader in that nation today?

How have democracy, diversity and the public good affected your family? What do these terms mean to you and your family? How do you benefit or how has your family benefited from government spending on family policy?

How do you and/or your family view immigrants today? Do you and/or your family see America/New York as a melting pot or mosaic?

Final Exam:
Please answer both questions, in 3-4 pages each (total 8 pages).

In both questions, please refer to your own civic engagement experience this semester when possible and show if and how it affected your learning. Exam is due Monday by 3pm.

Your grade will be based on the quality of your argument: the clarity and persuasiveness of your thesis, your organization and the thoroughness of your evidence. Refer whenever possible to primary sources and to specific persons, events and terms (for example, Bracero program, Family Allowances, Mother’s Pensions, TANF).

I. To what extent is an understanding of family policy in France useful in shaping public opinion and proposals (like those of Bergman) that could address the most urgent problems of American children?

In your answer, be sure to answer the following questions: How significantly do Bergman’s proposals (and their intended impact) differ from those of the National Commission on Children (NCC)? Which of France’s family policies does she find most relevant to the United States? Why does she reject Family Allowances and make minimal reference to maternity leave? Why are Bergman, Cherilyn Davidson and the NCC concerned about the shortcomings of AFDC (now T ANF)? What objections do you think the NCC would have raised had they heard Bergman’s suggestions? Finally, whose recommendations (if any) have a better chance in becoming law? Be sure to identify AFDC, T ANF and EITC in yom answer.

II. You are teaching a tenth grade class about the problems currently facing children and families in our American democracy.

First, indicate at least 3 specific problems identified in Kozol, Amazing Grace and/or Breslin, The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Guttierez (which the students have just read). Use at least 3 quotations as well as statistics to back up your argument and analyze these sources critically.

Then, explain how the issues relate to the struggle for power, voice and the public good in our democracy. In your answer, be sure to define “public good.”

Briefly indicate what action, if any, the students could take to address the crisis facing America’s children.

What objections and questions might the students raise in response to your presentation? Please consider race, ethnicity and economic status of the children you are addressing in your answer.