New Co-Curricular Initiative Focuses on Cities across Time and Space

Initiative will culminate with Symposium in the Spring Semester

HARTFORD, CT, September 7, 2012 – Fueled by a desire to probe the connections between cities in this country and abroad, Trinity has launched a co-curricular initiative this academic year, “Cities: Global Urban Experience across Time & Space.”

The lead professors are Dario A. Euraque, professor of history and international studies, and Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies. The half-credit course (COLL-131-01) is affiliated with 19 courses having urban themes. They include seven first-year seminars. Additional courses will be offered in the spring 2013 semester, whose centerpiece will be a major symposium in April.


Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies ​Garth Myers, left, and Professor of History and International Studies Dario Equraque, right. 

For those interested, the deadline for enrollment in the initiative is fast approaching: Tuesday, September 11. To obtain permission to enroll in the course, please contact: dario.euraque@trincoll.edu or garth.myers@trincoll.edu.

Although the program -- which builds on successful co-curricular initiatives that addressed “Decolonization” and “Border Crossings” in the late 1990s -- has been in the planning stage for nearly a year, the details were unveiled during a well-attended Common Hour event Thursday. An orientation opportunity for students and faculty will be Wednesday, September 12 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS), 70 Vernon Street.

According to Euraque and Myers, the initiative will “facilitate broad and connected teaching and learning on the formation and growth of cities in the ancient and pre-industrial past, as well as the more contemporary urbanization and cityscapes.”

In addition to the linkages with regular courses, the program will includes a series of scholarly films, informal meetings and opportunities for engagement with Hartford.

Among the courses that will have connections to the overall initiative are those dealing with urban China; the American city; Barcelona; Paris; Athens and Rome; the Islamic city; Alexandria; sustainable urban development; Tokyo; and, of course, Hartford.  However, that’s just a glimpse; there are others to choose from, and the professors are drawn from a variety of disciplines.

Euraque told students Thursday that the initiative will serve to “deepen the dimensions of what you will be doing in the classroom,” and that there will be an emphasis on cooperation and collaboration. Myers reminded the gathered that the faculty has “laid down the framework but it will be up to the students to lay down the bones.”

Myers added that there are few limits on the types of projects that the students can devise, and could include such items as journals, blogs or even keeping a record of the experience of riding buses in Hartford.

“This is a conversation about the city of Hartford and its relationship with us and with cities in general,” he said.

The cities initiative is one of six proposals (out of 11) that was awarded funding by a faculty committee and announced by Rena Fraden, dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs. The internal grants were made possible through an award from the Mellon Foundation in 2010 with the intent of establishing “the guiding philosophy for a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening the College academically.” The Mellon grant also supported a faculty retreat after which faculty members were encouraged to submit their ideas for projects.

Fraden said that the six winning proposals are “consonant with the values and themes expressed at the retreat, and all are designed to increase student engagement with academic pursuits, in theory and practice.”

In the introduction to their proposal, Euraque and Myers wrote, “As some have suggested, the 21st century is the Century of Cities. This multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural project seeks to provide a timely and tangible model of collective learning for meeting Trinity’s academic and social goals for the 21st century in the context of the college’s unique place in the City of Hartford, and its commitment to urban-global education. The key goal is to carry students to a consciousness that fuses urban challenges in our city, state, region, and country with a compassionate vision of the parallel dilemmas out in the wider urban world.” 

Students will also be encouraged to enroll in the initiative and related courses in the spring 2013 semester. The major event will be a symposium, “Connecting to the City: Borders and Belongings to Urban Places in the Past and Present” that will be April 19-20.

The symposium will address such questions as: Where does a city begin or end? What spaces or places belong to it? How do people connect to it and which people have what kinds of rights to it? Who decides the answers to these questions?

In addition to probing those questions, Euraque and Myers said that two of the goals of the symposium are to foster a dialog between the past and present, and explore the “gray areas, shadow spaces, peri-urban zones, and in-between…interfaces as distinct spaces in the story of connecting to the city, in both past and present urban worlds.”

Among the programs that have already been scheduled for this semester are:

  • Sept. 11 Common Hour on “Akko: Conflicts of Interest.” It will be from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Rittenberg Lounge in Mather Hall. The lecturer will be Shelley-Anne Peleg, director of the International Conservation Center, Citta di Roma, Akko.
  • Sept. 13 Common Hour on “From Polis to Medina: Ancient Mediterranean Cities in Transition.” It will be from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at CUGS. The panelists will be Gary Reger, Hobart Professor of Classical Languages; Zayde Antrim, associate professor of history and international studies; and Jonathan Elukin, associate professor of history.
  • Sept. 19 lecture, “Cosmopolitan Alexandria in the Films of Togu Mizrahi (1930 to 1939).” It will be at 4:30 p.m. at a location to be determined. The lecturer will be Deborah Starr, associate professor of Near Eastern studies and director of Jewish studies at Cornell University.
  • Oct. 4 Bankwitz lecture, “Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910.” It will be at 4:30 p.m. in the Reese Room in the Smith House on Vernon Street. The speaker will be Jeffrey Jackson, associate professor of history and director of the Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Rhodes College.
  • Oct. 25 Common Hour, “Race, Sexuality, and the City: Black Looks, Queer Desires, in Habana.” It will be from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at CUGS. The panelists will be Jafari Sinclaire Allen, assistant professor of anthropology and African American studies at Yale University; Davarian Baldwin, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies; and Beth Notar, associate professor of anthropology.
  • Oct. 29 lecture, “Challenges in Understanding Global Urban History.” It will be from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at CUGS. The speaker will be Peter Clark, professor of European urban history at the University of Helsinki in Finland.
  • Nov. 15 Common Hour on “City as Cosmic Pivot: Copan, Honduras and Angkor Thom, Cambodia.” It will be from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at CUGS. The panelists will be Euraque and Michael Lestz, associate professor of history.
  • Nov. 27 Common Hour on “Place and Displacement.” It will be from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Rittenberg Lounge in Mather Hall. The panelists will be Kathryn Libal, assistant professor in community organization at the School of Social Work at the University of Connecticut; Myers; and Antrim.