Elective Course Descriptions
CSP 610: Introduction to Cultural Documentation (3 credits) Cultural documentation provides an orientation and foundation in the methodologies used to understand and engage with the cultural processes and assets of value to communities. This course introduces best practices in cultural documentation, the use of ethnographic fieldwork and digital media to record and understand culture, and the ethical and practical issues involved in appropriately and effectively engaging with people in a variety of community contexts.
CSP 618: Cultural Sustainability Theory Seminar (3 credits) This course considers and develops the foundations of cultural sustainability as an
emerging academic field, a theoretical framework and a mode of practice. The seminar
will help students deepen their understanding of cultural sustainability as a concept,
better articulate the value of their own practice, and serve as a platform for the
intellectual development of the field. Students will develop a theoretical essay applying
relevant concepts from this inquiry to their own area of interest.
CSP 620: Food and Foodways (3 credits) Food and foodways are integral to many aspects of cultural identity and activity, and important to consider in the development of projects in cultural and economic sustainability. In order to comprehend a community, it is important to understand how and why that community uses food to construct and maintain identity and tradition, express values and beliefs, perform identity, present itself to the public, manage health systems, use environmental resources, and support indigenous and local economies.
CSP 624 Environment, Development and Economics (3 credits) This course examines how natural resources intersect with social and economic development initiatives. We will review the different kinds of natural resources and review case studies of both successes and failures in regard to sustainable use and community benefits. Special attention will be paid to community-based initiatives and examples of inclusive decision making and policy design.
CSP 625: Festivals, Events and Performances (3 credits) How and why do people celebrate? How can festivals construct a "separate space" outside the "everyday." What are the transformative, transgressive, subversive and communal possibilities for the employment of the "festive vocabulary?" How can a festival create a sense of what Victor Turner called "Communitas?" In this course, students will explore these questions; learn the basic elements of the festival; identify its history, motivation and multi-vocal meanings; learn the different elements of the "festive landscape;" provide analysis of community festivals in social and historical context; and, develop a festival program, including key thematic elements such as music, craft, and narrative components.
CSP 628: Principles of Cultural Mediation (3 credits) Without the recognition of difference of opinion, viewpoints, and individual value systems, conversations around divisive issues can often be dominated by polarized and destructive debate. Creating a space for dialogue can allow for these multiple viewpoints to be shared. Students will reflect on how their own cultural background frames their understanding of themselves and others, and will develop an understanding of how intercultural dialogue and mediation can be utilized to work successfully and ethically in partnership with communities.
CSP 630: Community and Economic Development (3 credits) A critical feature of cultural sustainability is the development of strategies that align with economic vitality and benefit cultural practitioners. This course surveys, analyzes, and evaluates efforts of this nature: cultural tourism, schools, marketing initiatives for cultural products, and other forms of entrepreneurship.
CSP 635: Interpretive Planning and Project Management (3 credits) This class provides insight and guidance into the planning and implementation of cultural programming at museums and similar organizations. Students will explore best practices and current issues pertaining to the development of interpretive approaches and their concrete implementation in these settings.
CSP 638: Language Preservation (3 credits) Language is one of the most salient and identifiable aspects of human culture. Human languages are important aspects of a culture's identity and sovereignty. Throughout the world communities are facing unprecedented language endangerment and half of the world's languages may become extinct in the next 100 years. This course provides an introduction to the practical and theoretical causes of language shift and what this shift means for impacted communities. Selected case studies provide a global perspective on the discourse.
CSP 640: Exhibits, Real and Virtual (3 credits) Museum exhibitions, publications, websites, and other media provide powerful tools for sustaining, strengthening, and showcasing the cultural assets and practices of communities for purposes of education, advocacy, and preservation. Students explore the use of text, image, video, and sound in effectively telling the story of themes and issues that matter to communities.
CSP 642: Culture and Calamity (3 credits) There are physical, psychological, social, and cultural dimensions to upheavals in community life, whether caused by war, economic or environmental devastation, forced displacement, or even policy. Human expression, even in the most authoritarian states and in the direst hours of crisis, cannot be silent. This course will examine the cultural and artistic aspects of upheaval and conflict around the world, including the destruction of traditional culture and emergence of new forms and voices. Case studies and readings will examine culture as a reflection and record of upheaval and as a creative response to it.
CSP 648: Museums and Communities (3 credits) Today's museums are re-considering their civic missions and practices, the ways they engage new partners and audiences, and, therefore, their priorities. Many believe that the health of museums depends on becoming more civically engaged with a range of communities. Successful museums engage in dialogue about civic empowerment and often center on issues of how and where citizens seek and engage each other, about their senses of power, trust, and agency. This cornerstone course encompasses the unique and critical issues of working in today's museums, and offers strategies for connecting museums with communities in ways that position them as principal players in cultural sustainability.
CSP 650: Organizing Communities: Advocacy, Activism, and Social Justice (3 credits) This course introduces students to the methods and perspectives of community organizing. Cultural sustainability is often a matter of social justice and self-determination, and knowledge of community organizing strategies provides a critical tool for Cultural Sustainability practitioners. Organizing, advocacy, and action strategies will be shared and assessed particularly as they pertain to matters of cultural democracy.
CSP 653: Topics and Issues in Cultural Sustainability (3 credits) Cutting across much of the curriculum in the M.A.C.S. program is a landscape of familiar but under-examined concepts that occasionally deserve focused study and analysis. At the same time, new topics or issues come up that require timely attention. Social concepts such as power, equity, and representation, have generated a body of literature and discourse applicable to cultural sustainability. This course enables M.A.C.S. students to explore a particular topic or issue in depth and achieve a degree of mastery. The topics will vary relevant to current issues.
CSP 654: Cultural Representation at the Smithsonian Institution (3 credits) Undertaken in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), students learn about issues and practices for representing cultures at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and museums in general. Through readings, lectures, and mentoring, the course explores representation, cultural brokerage, and interpretation in museums and festivals. Working with Smithsonian curators, students learn about festival management, program development, and digital media. They carry out practices for presenting traditions by incorporating community voices and perspectives though such experiences as digital storytelling, virtual exhibits, and collaboration with community members to present their traditions to new audiences. Through coursework students contribute to programs underway by CFCH and, when applicable the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
CSP 656: The Dynamics of Identity (3 credits) This course examines the concept of identity to better understand how it influences the individuals and communities with which we work, as well as how we work with them. Students review the intellectual history of the idea of identity, the varied meanings it has, and the constellation of concepts and theories to which it is key (self, group, community, etc.) We then consider the influences on the construction -- and reconstruction -- of identity and the ways in which it is performed and interpreted.
CSP 657: Culture, Spirituality & Sustainability (3 credits) To effectively work toward sustaining cultures, it is essential to understand the centrality and implications of spirituality in those cultures. In this course, students explore some of the ways spirituality is inextricably embedded in a community's worldview: in views of nature, morality, leadership, family life, and in artistic expression. We consider how recognition of these connections enhances sustainability efforts and promotes community engagement.
CSP 660: Oral History (3 credits) This course provides training in best practices in oral history documentation. Through hands on instruction and mentorship with oral history practice, students will develop the knowledge and skills to professionally conduct oral history research.
CSP 665 Arts of Social Change (3 credits) When faced with social injustices, including threats to survival, sustenance, or culture, humans often respond creatively by making art. Sometimes these arts draw on traditional cultural aesthetics and may represent the continued survival of defiant cultural art forms that will not be extinguished. Other times they take on a more innovative or even radical nature, emerging as new practices, narratives, or popular expressions. This course examines the vibrant use of arts to address social justice concerns and explores art in the context of the famous metaphoric view of art as either a mirror that reflects social reality or the hammer that shapes it.
GRW 601: Writing Studio (1.5 credits) Designed as a studio to enhance writing and find your academic voice, this course helps students assess and improve critical reading and writing skills, especially those necessary for academic writing and thinking. With the instructor acting as coach, students workshop their writing, either a paper for another course, or a new piece. Topics include thinking about writing (metacognition); reading for content; planning, organizing and using evidence in academic writing and thinking; making a supported argument; and editing for clarity and effectiveness. Students who have taken this course show a marked increase in their confidence and integrity as academic writers.