How do the Byrne Seminars Work?
Byrne seminars are small, one-credit courses, limited to 20 students. Seminars typically meet for 10 weeks, starting in the first week of each semester. The seminars are graded Pass/No Credit, and have no formal exams. Students may register for a one-credit seminar in addition to the 12-15 credit standard course-load; the seminars are not meant to compete with other classes.
Whate are RU-1st Byrne Seminars?
As part of the RU-1st initiatives, RU-1st Byrne Seminars are aimed at increasing awareness of critical and wide-ranging local, state, national and other important issues confronting higher education.
Two phenomena that were once viewed as impossible are now history. Nelson Mandela, having served 27 years in prison for protesting apartheid, steered South Africa through a relatively peaceful transition and became that country’s first democratically elected president in 1994. In November 2008, the United States experienced its own “Mandela moment” when Barack Obama was elected as the nation’s first black president. Both South Africa and the United States share a common history of legally mandated segregation. Racial exclusion and oppression were central to the national projects of both societies, as well as the creation of white identity therein. For example, given the entrenched nature of racial discrimination and segregation in South Africa, many believed that apartheid could only come to a violent end. And in the United States, the persistence of the color line led most to assume that a person of African ancestry could not assume the presidency during their lifetimes. Yet, despite these assumptions, the opposite has become a reality in both societies. The aim of the seminar is: to interrogate the socio-cultural, political, and economic factors that led the election of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, respectively; to examine the success and challenges faced by both leaders in overcoming the legacy of the color line in their respective societies; and to assess whether terms such as “post-apartheid” and “post-racial” are appropriate in describing present race relations in these two societies.
Latinos are becoming increasingly visible in the United States. According the Census (2010), in New Brunswick, NJ 49.9% of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latin@. As a consequence, Latinos are becoming increasingly visible in cinema, television, visual arts and performance, and they are a central element in the definition of U.S. Americanness. This Byrne seminar will explore visual, cinematic and performatic depictions of Latinidad in the U.S. to meditate on how Ethnic studies broaden our knowledge about contemporary American identities in the U.S. and the Global South.
In the contemporary world, it is often assumed that people migrate from one country to another in search of economic opportunities. While this is largely true, scholars have begun to study the role that sexuality plays in the migratory process. In this seminar, we will begin by examining established models for the study of migration and sexuality. Through discussion of case studies, we will press on these traditional models as we discover ways in which sexual identities, practices, and meanings shape migration and vice versa. Case studies will include the lives of Filipino gay men in New York City, the role of sexuality in shaping U.S. immigration policy, and the shifting meanings of sexual practices among Mexican immigrant men and women in the U.S.
One in four kids in elementary school are Latina/o, which means that it is worthwhile to understand more about our culture, language, history, identity development, and other factors that play a role in the college experience in unique ways. In this course, students will consider how race and ethnicity may affect how we think about education, decision making, resilience in dealing with challenges, and the differences between Latinas/os and other groups on campus. Class discussions, film viewings, and guest speakers will encourage students to think critically of the ways that society and the educational system interplay with each other; affecting access and persistence in higher education.
The information age has democratized the dissemination of and access to information. Social media provides a voice to all and can often blur the lines between fact and fiction. Are all tweets worth the noise they generate? How can we filter through opinions and the news media to gain accurate knowledge? This course will explore the impact of the information age on our understanding of truth. Through lectures, guest speakers, videos, role play, and discussion, students will examine various channels of information and be required to find accurate data using a wide range of information sources.