Category Archives: Murphy News

Welcome Letter from SLU Dean Greg Mantsios

Dear Friends of the Murphy Institute and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies;

On this Labor Day weekend, I want to welcome everyone to the new CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies (SLU).  As you may know, the School traces its roots to the Murphy Institute which was re-constituted as a CUNY School last year. This week, we proudly opened our doors to students under our new name. The Murphy Institute continues as an important unit of the School—one that is focused on public engagement and workforce development.

SLU is the only interdisciplinary program in Labor and Urban Studies in the nation.  With this letter, we are launching the SLU website (slu.cuny.edu). We invite you to explore it for details about SLU’s undergraduate and graduate programs as well as its range of student and community services.

SLU is driven by a set of core values: access to education, diversity at every level, social justice, and equality for all. Our goals are to expand higher education opportunities for workers; prepare students for careers in public service and movements for social justice; promote civic engagement; provide leadership development for union and community activists; and help workers achieve greater economic security.

Labor Day is a perfect time to acknowledge those who have worked so hard to make SLU a reality. First, I want to thank the City University of New York and its Chancellery for having the vision and the political will to create this new School. The idea for SLU was shaped by many individuals and organizations. Our Advisory Board —chaired by Arthur Cheliotes (Manager of CWA 1180) and consisting of 23 unions and community organization—led this effort over a six-year period. They were committed to creating a School for workers and working-class communities and put enormous effort into raising funds to inaugurate and sustain the School. As a result, we have been honored by the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as well as leading members of the State legislature and the New York City Council (especially Senator Diane Savino and Council Members Daneek Miller and Inez Baron).

Our faculty of distinguished scholars and practitioners has crafted a rich curriculum that examines the world of work and workers from the perspective of urban communities, especially those that have been underserved by government and public institutions.  We also have   a dedicated staff of program administrators and student services experts who spare no effort to help our students succeed in college.  Finally, SLU is nothing without its decades-long history in worker education and without the remarkable students who have established our reputation as a School for change agents. We are proud to thank the many union organizers and administrators, municipal employees, elected officials, researchers, and community advocates who were and are our students.

In our first year of operation, we will focus on building out the School, hiring additional faculty and staff; expanding current programs; and launching new initiatives. We will establish an academic governance structure for the School—one that is faculty-led and includes student and staff representatives. We will serve new constituencies, with higher education opportunities for resident leaders in housing projects and mentors who counsel youth offenders. Our year-long series of public programs rolls out with a September panel on Democracy and Capitalism (featuring NYC Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson); an October panel on New Labor and Community Organizing (with Larry Cohen, former International President of the CWA and now  Board Chair of Our Revolution); and a November Reporters Roundtable analysis of the 2018 midterm elections. Throughout the year, we will be offering our popular Saturday series on civic leadership, a program that prepares activists to run for public office or work on electoral campaigns.

We have an exciting year ahead. No doubt, we will have our challenges.  But with your continuing support, SLU will meet them and rise to greater heights. I want to thank you for being a part of the SLU community, and I look forward to sharing this banner year with you.

Sincerely,

 

Gregory Mantsios, Ph.D

Founding Dean, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Event: Is a Democratic Capitalism Possible (9/14)

Friday, Sept 14th, 8:30AM-10:30AM
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

Inequality is accelerating at an alarming rate as corporate political power is expanding and worker rights and protections are shrinking. The hyper concentration of wealth in the hands of a financial elite has come to dominate politics and shape policy in a manner that has eroded democratic governance at the federal, state, and the municipal levels. Can democracy be saved from the grips of capitalism? What factors most threaten meaningful civic engagement and what changes are needed to bolster our democracy and create a more equitable society?

Speakers Include:

  • J. Phillip Thompson, NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, including the Mayor’s strategy to encourage greater voter participation and improve the way the city carries out elections, DemocracyNYC; and author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy
  • Kim Phillips Fein, Associate Professor, NYU Gallatin School, and author of Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal and Fear City: The New York City Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of the Age of Austerity
  • Maurice Weeks, Co-Executive Director of Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE)
  • Moderator: Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate School, Distinguished Lecturer in Labor Studies, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

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.

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!

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.