Fall 2018 Exhibit: 6 Days in Mississippi

November 19, 2018
Three women chatting in the CEP; Mississippi photos are on display on the back wall

To activate the Center for Engaged Pedagogy’s new space in Fall 2018, we selected images from the Mississippi Semester course taught by professor of History Premilla Nadasen in Spring 2018, which was built on a collaboration with the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative. The photos and text on view, by Aubri Juhasz ‘18, provide a narrative about the experiences of students as they traveled together to do field work during Spring Break, as part of this course.

The Mississippi Semester provides an example of teaching that situates learning in a real context, builds equitable and sustainable relationships with community partners, and demonstrates fruitful ways that faculty and instructors from Milstein centers collaborate to support student scholarship.

In Professor’s Nadasen’s words from the report produced by her students,

“In the wake of the 2016 election, students were eager to think about questions of poverty, race, the viability of the public sector, civic engagement and grass-roots organizing. I decided to organize an academic course in collaboration with the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative to address the organization’s need for research support, to teach students about the historical roots of contemporary welfare policy, and provide them with concrete empirical skills, showcasing how this knowledge and skills could be useful in a 'real-world' setting.

With guidance from the MLICCI and technical assistance from the Barnard College Empirical Reasoning Center (ERC), students were charged with developing an index of women’s economic security in Mississippi that utilized an intersectional analysis—that is, thinking about not just the significance of race or gender as separate variables, but how economic status is differentiated by race among women and men. Graduate fellow Fatima Koli and Associate Director Alisa Rod of the ERC collaborated with us in developing meaningful empirical frameworks to capture our intersectional analysis.

This course also reflects a pedagogical approach that bridges campus and community, flipping the typical script of campus-community projects and working with Mississippi residents as research partners, rather than viewing them as research subjects.

We went to Mississippi for a week over spring break to meet with local stakeholders and residents, not to gather data, but to listen and learn. We came away with a much deeper sense of the scope and complexity of poverty in Mississippi and the multiple layers and registers of resistance. This Spring 2018 course was the first iteration of what we hope will be an ongoing collaboration between Barnard and MLICCI. When 'Mississippi Semester' is taught again in the future, a different group of students will be able to build upon what we have done to further refine what is just a snapshot of economic inequality."