City enters classroom

April 14, 2014

While other political science classes are studying national public policy, the 15 undergraduates currently taking former Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s political science seminar are looking no further than the Elm City.DeStefano’s decision to teach at Yale for the first time this semester comes at a time of growing interest among Yale students and faculty to engage academically with New Haven.

Last spring, Professor Alicia Camacho created an ethnicity, race and migration seminar called “Latino/a in New Haven.” Other classes that focus on the city include award-winning documentary photographer Lori Grinker’s college seminar “Photojournalism and New Haven” and assistant professor of urbanism Elihu Rubin’s ’99 seminar “Infrastructure: Politics & Design.”

Students enrolled in these classes said Yale should take better advantage of what the city can offer in an academic setting.

Final projects in Camacho’s course, which focuses on the history and development of New Haven’s Latino population, also require students to leave campus. Students must work with a local organization for an average of three hours each week outside of class time, and their final paper is based on the work they do within the community.

Among the organizations students are working with are JUNTA for Progressive Action and La Voz Hispana — New Haven’s Spanish newspaper. Students’ final projects include researching minimum wage and labor issues in New Haven, surveying Mexican immigrants and reporting on the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students.

“I feel like I’m learning along with them because there’s so much that isn’t known yet or isn’t fully discussed or documented about this particular part of New England life,” Camacho said about her seminar.

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