Courses Archive

Below is a list of previous courses offered through the Tri-Co Philly Program.

Spring 2022

Core Course

Power and Politics in Philadelphia (POLS H229)
Steve McGovern, HC
Tuesday Noon–2:30 p.m. and Friday 12:15-3 p.m.*

*Friday is an occasional meeting time for program students only.

This course, offered as part of the Tri-Co Philly Program, examines power and politics in contemporary Philadelphia. We will devote particular attention to the potential and limitations of grassroots mobilization as a mechanism for effecting positive change. To what extent can community-based organizations and public interest groups alter long-standing policies, practices, and institutions in a large, American city like Philadelphia? To what extent are their efforts impeded by well-established interests and structural forces rooted in race, ethnicity, class, and culture? How have recent societal shifts affected underlying tensions between Old Philadelphia and New Philadelphia?

We will explore who wins and who loses in the political arena through a series of case studies of key policy issues that are highly salient to the people of Philadelphia, including criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, gentrification and affordable housing, urban development, and workforce diversity. How these policy issues are resolved will reveal much about the nature of power and whether the source of that power springs from the bottom-up or remains primarily a top-down phenomenon. This discussion-based seminar will feature guest speakers, site visits, and an opportunity to conduct your own research on power and politics in Philadelphia.

Elective Courses

History of Philadelphia Architecture and Urbanism (CITY B207)
Jeffrey Cohen, BMC
Thursday 10:10 a.m.–1 p.m.

City 207 explores Philadelphia’s architectural and urban evolution over five centuries. We’ll look very closely at buildings—both the extraordinary and the more normative in different eras—while also devising a firm orientation within historical geographies of growth, functional differentiation, and social patterning.

In this year’s special iteration as part of Trico in the City, we’ll take advantage of our presence downtown with walks almost every week to collectively interrogate our settings. We’ll visit both historical buildings and informational repositories, the latter serving as our laboratory for learning to tap archival sources in constructing new knowledge about buildings and urban change.

Borders and Migration (POLS 031)
Osman Balkan, SC
Wednesday, Noon–3 p.m.

This course offers an introduction to the causes and consequences of international migration and examines how various countries have responded to the phenomenon. We begin by considering the many reasons why people move from one place to another and analyze the different strategies through which political authorities have tried to simultaneously facilitate and obstruct migratory flows. The tension between mobility and containment is a central feature of migration politics and our first set of readings offer a broad, historical overview of the relationship between states and migrants within the dynamics of global capitalism. Students will learn about patterns of regular and irregular migration, including economic and undocumented migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers and evaluate the impact of war and climate change on human displacement. We will also investigate the efficacy of border walls and other tactics of containment and control such detention and deportation, surveillance and documentation, and the production of “illegality.”

We then consider how migration transforms both sending and receiving countries and examine how different nation-states accommodate (or fail to accommodate) newcomers to their territories. The growing racial, religious, and linguistic diversity generated by international migratory flows continues to generate fierce debates over national identity, social cohesion, economic prosperity, and political stability in many parts of the word. In order to make sense of these debates we will analyze different regimes of immigrant integration, incorporation, and assimilation and evaluate the meaning of citizenship, social membership, and belonging as it pertains to the lived experience of migrants. Our readings examine how intersecting axes of identity such as race, religion, ethnicity, cultural heritage and migratory history underpin durable structures of socio-economic inequality.

The capstone project for this course is an oral history interview with an immigrant. This exercise offers students an opportunity to further deepen their qualitative research skills and to assess the explanatory power of various theoretical frameworks and analytical concepts that we will learn about during the course of the semester. This is an experiential, immersive-learning based class. Our classroom meetings will be supplemented with field trips, guest lectures, and discussions with scholars and practitioners working to advance the rights of migrants in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

Fall 2021

Narrativity and Hip Hop (ENGL B216)       
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, BMC
Tuesday 2:10–5 p.m.

This course explores narrative and poetic forms and themes in hip-hop culture in Philadelphia and beyond. Through close, intensive analysis of hip hop lyrics, as well as audiovisual performance and film, we will consider how artists from the late twentieth century onward have used the hip hop to extend, engage, and complicate key concerns of literature in general, and African American and African Diaspora literature in particular. How do literary tropes such as the cautionary tale, the coming-of-age narrative, the quest narrative, the redemption narrative, the protest narrative, and the coming-out story influence hip hop texts? What possibilities do these forms of hip-hop storytelling open for our analysis of cultural and political life in 2021? Focusing on the musical and literary cultures of Philadelphia and drawing links to other contexts, we will take up these questions through an analysis of hip hop texts from the late 1970s to the current moment, including works by Philadelphia rappers The Roots, Meek Mill, and Lady Cannon, as well as Queen Latifah, Kendrick Lamar, Kurtis Blow, Notorious B.I.G., Lxs Krudxs Cubensi, Nitty Scott, KripHop Nation, Bad Bunny, Megan Thee Stallion, KC Ortiz and others. Reading these alongside Philly-focused stories and other narrative works by W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Walker, Ann Petry, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, Raquel Salas Rivera, and Asali Solomon, we will examine how hip hop intervenes in narratives about nation, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic location, (dis)ability, and intersectional political engagement across space, time, and genre. Through a series of in-class visits from Philadelphia rappers, writers, and activists, as well as excursions exploring the city’s hip hop and literary cultures, we will consider how Philadelphia’s cultural and historical complexity offers fodder for a rich intersectional analysis of hip hop storytelling. Conditions permitting, this course will be taught in Philadelphia at the Friends Center.

Urban Spaces, Historical Places: Society, Health and Social Justice in Philadelphia (HLTH H211)
Patricia Kelly, HC

Wednesday 10:15 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

Cities are dynamic sites of social change and social tension; impacted by migration, globalization, de/industrialization and technological shifts, Philadelphia is both the birthplace of American democracy and the nation’s poorest large city. This course will take a broad view of the nation’s first capital, in anthropological, geographic, and historical perspective. Our primary themes will be social justice and health. We will explore and analyze health, activism, inequalities, and social movements in the city through various lenses, including:  food; migration and ethnic enclaves; the built environment; race, class and space; tourism and historical memory; policing; and education. This course is part of the TriCo Philly program and does not take place on campus; rather students will spend one week engaging in reading and discussion on our topics at the Friends Center in Center City and the following week visiting field sites throughout the city, engaging with speakers and conducting anthropological observation. 

Fall 2020

Core Course

Race and Place: A Philadelphia Story (SOCI 048I)
Nina Johnson, SC
Wednesday 2–5 p.m.

Using Philadelphia neighborhoods as our site of study, this course will analyze the relationship between race/ethnicity and spatial inequality, emphasizing the institutions, processes, and mechanisms that shape the lives of urban dwellers. We will survey major theoretical approaches and empirical investigations of racial and ethnic stratification in cities, their concomitant policy considerations, and the impact at the local level in Philadelphia. As part of The Tri-Co Philly Program, this course will take place in the city and engage scholars, practitioners, community members, and leaders as teachers, learners, and researchers alongside students in the course. Prerequisites: Enrollment in the Tri-Co Philly Program or permission of the instructor.

Elective Courses

The Nature of Public Art and the Ethics of Commemoration (PHIL B234)
Macalester Bell, BMC
Wednesday 2:30–4:30 p.m.

Philadelphia has the largest number of public artworks in the country and is also the first city in the nation to require that developers use a portion of their construction budget for public art. It is also home to a number of well-known memorials. In this course, we will take up a number of philosophical questions about the nature of public art, political aesthetics, and the ethics of commemoration using case studies drawn from Philadelphia. Some of the questions we will consider include the following: What is public art? What is public space? What is the role of public art in a democracy? Is there a distinct category of “street art” which can be distinguished from public art on the one hand and graffiti on the other? What is the moral value of commemorative art? What, if anything, do we have a moral obligation to commemorate and what grounds that obligation? How should we assess controversies surrounding the removal of art honoring persons or groups many judge to be morally objectionable, such as Confederate monuments? How should we memorialize victims of injustice?

We will explore these and related questions through contemporary philosophical texts and informed by case studies of public art and memorials in the Philadelphia metro area. This course will be taught in Philadelphia as part of the Tri-Co Philly Program. Our class time will be used for lecture and discussion as well as walking tours and site visits.

Grassroots Economies: Creating Livelihoods in an Age of Urban Inequality (POLS H262)
Craig Borowiak, HC
Monday, 10:15 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

We live in an age of intensifying economic inequality, the consequences of which are reflected in the landscapes of many modern cities. In Philadelphia, for example, decades of deindustrialization and urban flight have left the city pockmarked with abandoned lots, deep poverty, and segregated neighborhoods while new capitalist developments have led to concentrated wealth in the city center and gentrifying outward pressures on nearby neighborhoods. For many city dwellers, the mainstream economy is a source of alienation and disempowerment. When that economy fails to provide, what options remain?

The aim of the course would be to examine the political and economic constraints generated by poverty and racial and class segregation in contemporary urban environments and how grassroots economic initiatives rooted in mutual aid often fill the gaps and provide alternative ways to meet needs and generate supportive community. Examples of such initiatives range from guerrilla gardens and artist collectives to worker cooperatives and informal revolving loan funds. Many of these initiatives are informal. Some are legal, others less so. Many also fall under the radar of mainstream studies, which instead focus on capitalist markets, government welfare, and nonprofit philanthropy. Though many grassroots economic initiatives take place on a relatively small scale, they have a much larger footprint and impact when they are looked at together. The course will engage with them both theoretically and with numerous concrete examples and interactive experiences with practitioners. We will also examine various efforts in different cities to cultivate solidarity-based economic alternatives through public-private partnerships and grassroots coalitions. Case studies will be drawn from a variety of countries, though the focus will be on U.S. cities, with a particular emphasis on Philadelphia. This course will be taught in Philadelphia as part of the Tri-Co Philly Program.

Key themes will include: capitalism and post-capitalism, diverse economies, gentrification, public vs. private, geographies of inequality, mapping economic alternatives, informal moral economies, community gardens, DIY, and cooperatives.

Spring 2020

Core Course

CITY B214 The Philadelphia Mosaic: Immigrant Communities in the City
Liv Raddatz
Wednesday/Friday 12:15–3 p.m.
This is the core course for the Tri-Co Philly Program and will be taught in Philadelphia. This course explores the experiences and city-making strategies of immigrant communities in the Greater Philadelphia Area from roughly the late 19th century to the present day. It sheds light on how immigrant communities have shaped the city at different points in time and how the Philadelphia metropolitan region, as an urban context, has shaped immigrants’ lives. The course also familiarizes students with Philadelphia’s history, transformations of the metropolitan region in recent decades and current economic, social and spatial dynamics as well as key immigration concepts and theories. 

Elective Courses

ECON 003 Behavioral Public Policy in the City
Syon Bhanot
Tuesday/Friday 12:15–3 p.m.

Recent years have seen tremendous growth in the policy influence of behavioral science, a term covering behavioral economics, social psychology, and related fields. Insights from these fields, which explore how individual behavior frequently deviates from so-called "rational choice" models, have helped policymakers develop tools to improve both outcomes for citizens and the way policymakers use data and evidence in their own operations. In this course (which will convene in Philadelphia), students will be exposed not only to the core concepts underlying behavioral science, but also to the nuts and bolts of one high-level policy effort to integrate behavioral science into city government—right here in Philadelphia (though the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative, or PBSI, an academia-policy collaboration under the umbrella of GovLabPHL, a multi-agency team led by the Mayor's Policy Office). Conceptually, the course will cover many behavioral science topics, including judgment under uncertainty, heuristics and biases, self-control and procrastination, and social influence, along with methodological topics related to experiments and their role in social science. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to interact with a number of guest speakers from city agencies and other city-based organizations, who have worked on behavioral science efforts in the city through PBSI. Field visits and group exercises built around actual, ongoing behavioral science projects in the city are also planned as components of the course.  

Prerequisites: Enrollment in the Tri-Co Philly Program or permission of the instructor.
HLTH 233 Philadelphia’s Opioid Crisis: Causes, Consequences, and Interventions
Community Engagement and Social Responsibility
Anne Montgomery
Thursday 10:05 a.m.-–2:35 p.m./Friday 12:15–3 p.m.
Opioid-related fatalities are said to represent the deadliest drug crisis in American history. In 2016, drug overdose killed approximately 64,000 people, making it the leading cause of death in Americans under 50. Philadelphia has among the highest overdose death rates in large US counties, and the city government has called this “the greatest public health crisis in a century.” Philadelphia is also poised to become first in the US to open a safe injection site for opioid use, despite opposition from the federal government. Taught in Philadelphia as part of the Tri-Co Philly Program, this course will draw on direct student engagement and the experience of community partners—including medical practitioners, harm reduction activists, politicians, journalists, people who use drugs, and affected communities—to interrogate the causes and consequences of drug overdose. We will also critically analyze political debates about how to respond to the crisis.  The course is interdisciplinary and highlights three main lenses through which to analyze the crisis: public health and medical science, values and politics, and social justice and principles of ethical engagement. Students are expected to commit an average of three hours per week to a community placement that addresses the overdose crisis. In the past, students have volunteered with Prevention Point, Pathways to Housing, SOL Collective, and Project SAFE, as well as with the department of health, addiction clinics, and emergency rooms. 

Fall 2019

Core Course

EDUC 067 Fight for #PhlEd: Urban Educational and Environmental Justice
Edwin Mayorga
Monday, 12:10-2:55 p.m.

This course is the core course for the Tri-Co Philly Program and will be taught in Philadelphia. Fight for #PhlEd is an examination of urbanism and environmental justice as seen through of urban education politics in Philadelphia and other US cities. Course readings, discussions and related field experiences will focus on various perspectives on key issues and debates confronting urban education as it relates to urban development and environmental sustainability and justice. 

We will draw heavily on theories and approaches from critical geography, critical theories of race and political economy, which will provide us a frame for examining research, policy, pedagogy and social movements as vehicles for addressing the challenges that shape the social, cultural, and geographic conditions of teaching, learning and community development. The city of Philadelphia, its racially and ethnically diverse communities, and its public schools, will function as our focus and, more importantly, who we will seek to build alongside, over the course of the semester.

Elective Courses

ANTH H309/ENVS H309: Place, People and Collaborative Research in Philadelphia
Joshua Moses
Tuesday/Friday 12:10-2:55 p.m.

This transdisciplinary course, which will be taught in Philadelphia, focuses on anthropology’s contributions (and potential contributions) to engaging critical environmental issues in urban settings. Collaborative environmental work with urban communities is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on anthropology, urban planning, public health, ecology, and geography. Through a study of Philadelphia’s current struggles to redefine itself as a green city, students will gain grounding in anthropological theory and practice and urban ecology. Themes will include the intersections of race, class, and gender; environmental justice; urban farming/gardening; brownfields; grassroots organizing; action research; and ideas of place, home and nature. The course will focus on the ethics and practice of community collaboration and community-based research in environmental work in urban settings. Readings will include: Joan Iverson Nassauer, Roger Sanjek, Peter Berg, Anne Rademencher, Rowan Rowntree, Gregory Bateson, Lindsay K. Campbell, Meredith Minkler, Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Eric Swyngedouw, Davydd Greenwod, Eve Tuck, Kim Fortun, Julian Agyeman, Paul Robbins.

ENVS 035/POLS 043B Environmental Justice: Theory and Action
Giovanna DiChiro
Wednesday/Friday 12:10-2:55 p.m.

An introduction to the history and theory of environmental justice, an interdisciplinary field that examines how inequalities based on race, class, ethnicity, and gender shape how different groups of people are impacted by environmental problems and how they advocate for social and environmental change. This semester the course will be taught at the Philadelphia Friends Center and will concentrate on urban environmental justice issues and creative strategies for change in Philadelphia. Drawing on the work of scholars and activists from a wide variety of disciplines in the social sciences, natural sciences, and the arts and humanities, we critically examine the conceptual divisions between “nature and society,” “urban and rural,” and the“community and the planet.” We will analyze the history of the widely used concept of “sustainability” focusing on the diverse ways it has been embraced, transformed, and implemented in different cultural and urban contexts. We will investigate some of the challenges facing cities like Philadelphia as they implement sustainability initiatives and try to avoid “green gentrification” (sustainability improvements such as green buildings, eco-parks, and upscale farmers’ markets that increase property values, pricing out and displacing local, low-income residents). We will likewise explore the promise of urban areas as important centers for supporting the flourishing of diverse, equitable, and ecologically sustainable communities. Course incorporates a community-based learning component.

MATH B295  Math Modeling and Sustainability
Victor Donnay
Monday/Friday, 10:10–11:30 a.m.; Friday, 12:10–2:55 p.m.

Taught in Philadelphia as part of the Tri-Co Philly Program, this course will use mathematical models to study issues of sustainability in the city. Examining energy consumption and the potential of using renewable energy to meet these needs, students will evaluate the effectiveness and associated costs—social, environmental, financial—of various technologies. As part of the course, students will work in teams to analyze a real-world sustainability issue of interest to a community partner.

Prerequisites: Calculus II (MATH 102), MATH 118 (Haverford), MATH 025 (Swarthmore) and permission of the instructor.

Spring 2019

Philadelphia: Inventing a City
Thomas Devaney

It has been called the Quaker City, the City of Brotherly Love, home of the Lenni Lenape, City of Neighborhoods, City of Firsts, Workshop of the World, the Hidden City, and more. The city’s literary history and culture is rough and dark as it is rich and enlightened. From its patricians to its philistines, the course explores Philadelphia through a roster of writers, journalists, civic scribes, Quaker legerdemain, and pamphleteers who charted a number of cultural transformations. Discover how the asymmetrical evolution of Philadelphia, from the 1680s to the present, has informed the character of the city and its diverse residents.
The course is a combination of in-class lectures and discussion, and self-directed and class-led tours to cultural destinations throughout the city. Six to seven times during the semester, students will seek out new experiences in Philadelphia’s cultural community and visit, research and respond to what they’ve experienced. Course meets in Center City, Philadelphia. 

The Politics of the Creative Class in American Cities 
Stephen McGovern

Explores the social, economic, and political impacts associated with the sizeable influx of college graduates into many urban areas during the past decade. Has the rise of this "creative class" in American cities fueled progressive reforms or exacerbated existing inequalities? Much of our analysis will focus on the influence of the creative class in the city and neighborhoods of Philadelphia. To that end, the course will be offered not on the Haverford campus but in Center City, Philadelphia.

Narrativity and Hip Hop
Mecca Sullivan 

This course explores narrative and poetic forms and themes in hip-hop culture. Through close, intensive analysis of hip hop lyrics, as well as audiovisual performance and visual art, we will consider how rappers and hip-hop artists from the late twentieth century onward have used the form to extend, further, and complicate key concerns of literature in general, and African American and African Diaspora literature in particular. We will explore key texts in hip hop from the late 1970s to the current moment. Reading these texts alongside short fiction by writers such as Gayl Jones, Octavia Butler, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Victor LaValle, Kiese Laymon, Ivelisse Rodriguez, Regina Bradley and others, we will consider how themes of socioeconomic mobility, gender and sexuality, queer and feminist critique, and intersectional political engagement animate artists’ narrative and poetic strategies across genre and media.

Written work will include regular in-class presentations, short creative assignments, three short papers, and a final project.  As a part of the Philly program, the course will take place in Center City, Philadelphia. Along with course readings, we will engage directly with writers, artists, and events that help shape Philadelphia’s vibrant hip-hop and literature scene.

barnes museum exterior

Contact Us

Tri-Co Philly Program

Calista Cleary
Tri-Co Philly Program Planning Director
Founders 028, Haverford College
Phone: 610-795-1576