Category Archives: Home

Congratulations to Spring 2018 Graduates!

On May 30th, the Murphy Institute hosted our spring graduation party.

The event was emcee’d by Diana Robinson, who graduated with an MA in Labor Studies, and Racquel Barnes, who graduated with an MA in Urban Studies. Thanks also to MA in Labor Studies graduate, and new father, James Van Nort for his stirring speech.

Some photos from the event are below.  A big congratulations to our graduating class of 2018!

Photos by Aaron Lenchner

And congrats to our graduates who attended the CUNY School of Professional Studies commencement ceremony at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall on Friday June 1st. Some photos of our grads are among those posted on the SPS Facebook page.

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 11th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

In this newsletter, we turn our attention to the suburbs. And for good reason, since that’s where slightly over half of U.S. residents currently live. You may have noticed that today’s suburban dwellers increasingly don’t conform to the mythic image of the suburbanite. By 2013, 61 percent of all immigrants to the U.S. lived in the suburbs, and that percentage continues to increase. And, rather than the prized destination of prolonged efforts to escape urban ghettos, many of these suburbs are where immigrants settle upon arrival. Partly as a result of these trends, the last census showed suburban poverty to have grown at more than twice the rate of urban poverty.

In the current issue of New Labor Forum, Phil Neel describes this new suburban landscape: where once there were only bedrooms and commuter trains, now there are factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and sometimes blasted waste-lands lacking many of the essential services, like child care and public transportation, more common to cities.  He argues that one need look no further than Ferguson, Missouri for evidence that conditions now prevalent in suburbs will contain new challenges, as well as new possibilities, to spur movements for social and economic justice. For all of these reasons, anyone interested in the nation’s social and political future would do well to study suburbia. Toward that end, we also offer a recent report on the challenges of suburban poverty by Margaret Weir, as well as a review of Lorrie Frasure-Yokely’s Racial and Ethnic Politics in American Suburbs, the 2016 winner of two national book awards.

Table of Contents

  1. The New Geography of Suburbia/ Phil A. Neel, New Labor Forum
  2. The Rising Challenge of Poverty in the Suburbs/ Margaret Weir, Scholars Strategy Network
  3. The Changing Face of the U.S. Suburbs/ Josh Fox, Harris Public Policy- The University of Chicago

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Writing Center Coordinator Michael Rymer Receives Award

The Marilyn Sternglass Writing Award at City College is given for excellence in writing in the English Department’s Language and Literacy program. This semester, that award went to Murphy Writing Center Coordinator Michael Rymer, who holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently enrolled in the English Master of Arts in Language & Literacy program.

From Michael:

The paper looks at the use of Close Vertical Transcription (CVT) of writing center sessions as a professional development tool. Close Vertical Transcription is a method of transcribing that draws from linguistics, and some writing center professionals advocate for it as an alternative to less rigorous methods because they edit out non-verbal utterances and pauses and have no way or representing interruptions. In the paper I look at the literature on using transcripts in WC professional development (which has been happening since the beginning of writing centers) and I write about using CVT to transcribe a session here.

Congratulations Michael!

New Labor Forum Highlights: May 28th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

Corporate America has always played a weighty, often determining role in our political life.  And toward the turn of the twenty-first century corporate influence in our politics began to take on a new form.  Nowadays, we’ve grown accustomed to the sight of business tycoons, lacking a scintilla of political experience, offering themselves up as “public servants” and for the highest offices.  And they do so brashly, suggesting that it’s precisely their lives as entrepreneurial autocrats commanding their own business empires that makes them best qualified to set things right in the political arena.

Here, we offer three considerations of this phenomenon. In the May 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, Lily Geismer explores how this peculiarity of the business mogul as political leader came to be and why it is such an authoritarian threat to democracy. And New Labor Forum Editor-at-Large Steve Fraser examines the emergence of the business mogul as both policy maker — in the form of the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Bill Gates, and the Walton family, to name a few — and as elected official, with our 45th President as only the most flagrant example. We also offer a review essay by Andrew Elrod of two recent books by Gordon Lafer and Nancy MacLean exploring the wildly successful work of corporate chieftains to propose and pass legislation of their liking.

Table of Contents

  1. Napoleons in Pinstripes: The Rise of the Business Mogul as Politician/ Lily Geismer, New Labor Forum
  2. Playing God/ Steve Fraser, TomDispatch.com
  3. Book Review: Property Supremacy/ Andrew Elrod, New Labor Forum

Photo by UN Geneva via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Video: The Future of Capitalism and the Future of Work

On May 4th, the Murphy Institute hosted a daylong conference to explore the ways in which structural changes in the labor market, skyrocketing inequality, and rapid technological innovation have sparked renewed debate and speculation about the future of capitalism and the future of work itself. Featuring leading scholars, journalists and activists’ perspectives on these issues, the day engaged three key debates:

  1. The impact of technological innovation, especially robots and artificial intelligence, on workers and on the labor market
  2. The vast increase in capacity for surveillance and data collection by high-tech firms and its implications for daily life as well as for the workplace
  3. The impact of the ecological crisis and the political failure to address it for the future of capitalism and the future of work.

Check out all three conversations below!

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Video: Reconstructing Economic Development for People and Planet: Stories of Just Economic Democracy

On Friday, May 11th,  in collaboration with Democracy @ Work New York, the Murphy Institute hosted a fascinating panel exploring how progressive local innovations stand to solve long-standing, seemingly intractable issues around poverty and inequality. Panelists included:

  • Michael Menser, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, Earth and Environmental Science and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, Chair of the Board of The Participatory Budgeting Project, and author of We Decide! Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy
  • Gabriela Alvarez, Chef and founder of Liberation Cuisine, a catering company dedicated to preparing meals collectively with sustainable ingredients and practices. Alvarez recently took her passion for healing and organizing with food to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts
  • Kali Akuno, co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a network of cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises and the author of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Yorman Nunez, Program Manager at Community Innovators Lab MIT and coordinator of Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative

Miss the panel or want to experience it again? Watch it here:

In New York City worker cooperatives, participatory budgeting, and community land trusts are on the policy platform of the City Council’s progressive caucus and elected officials in the democratic party are pushing legislation for employee and worker ownership at the state and federal levels. With greater visibility and support from the public sector some believe that these pilots and experiments for neighborhoods to drive wealth creation and capture and create equitable economic opportunities can reach into broad-based and mainstream policy.

There is an opening here to expand the horizon of what is seen as possible for genuine equitable urban economic development, and its relationship to labor, communities and the political economy. In short, we can change the conversation from mostly pushing for greater accountability and transparency in the existing economic development order, to a conversation about what should come next and what policies and institutions would be a part of getting us there.