Columbia to offer an “Occupy 101” class

By The Dartmouth Web Staff

Even though it’s currently removed from Columbia U’s spring anthropology course listings, the university has announced they will offer a class on Occupy Wall Street next semester, according to the New York Post.

Postdoctoral scholar at Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought Hannah Appel, will teach the anthropology course, which is entitled “Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement.” An anthropologist by trade, Appel has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Equatorial Guinea’s transational oil and gas industry.

The course will combine seminars at Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus with fieldwork in and around OWS movements.

According to the syllabus, which features a ballerina in releve attitude balancing upon the Merrill Lynch bull, Appel expects students to be involved in ongoing Occupy projects, though she says a “particular orientation toward OWS” is not requisite for participation.” Along with guest lecturers, Appel plans to incorporate sociological, political theory, economics, history and primary source material “from OWS and beyond.”

Appel blogs for the Social Text collective about OWS, where she offers ethnographic observations and commentary on the movement.

Appel told the Post her support for OWS won’t keep her from being an objective teacher.

“Inevitably, my experience will color the way I teach, but I feel equipped to teach objectively,” Appel told The Post. “It’s best to be critical of the things we hold most sacred.”

The “risk of disengaged scholarship”, Appel says in her syllabus, outweighs the foreseeable risk of the course’s fieldwork.

Possible exposure to unsafe or violent situations will be minimized by “scrupulous contingency plans” including buddy-systems, phone trees and pre-determined meeting places, according to Appel’s syllabus.

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