In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Roosevelt Montás argues America's colleges have a responsibility to bolster America's liberal democracy by educating its students as citizens. Read his editorial to see why this matters so much and what is preventing colleges from taking up this cause. 

Today, low-income high school students are less like to apply to and enroll in colleges than they were ten years ago, despite huge increases in available financial aid. Studies show that college mentoring can significantly improve students' submissions and enrollment rates. The problem is that most low-income high students in New York City attend schools that have one guidance counselor for every 500 students.

The Freedom & Citizenship program at the Center for American Studies is seeking mentors for its high school class of 2018. Mentors do not need to be experts in college enrollment--just dedicated to their students. If you have up to four hours a week to spend with a student from September through December you have what it takes to be a college mentor. See Freedom & Citizenship's volunteer page for more information and an application form.

Deadline for volunteer applications is September 14.


American Studies board of visitors member Alan Robert Ginsberg was recently selected as the recipient of the Special Jury Prize of the Richard Wall Memorial Award by the Theatre Library Association. His award-winning book, The Salome Ensemble: Rose Pastor Stokes, Anzia Yezierska, Sonya Levine, and Jetta Goudal, was published with Syracuse University Press in 2016 and named a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in that year.

The Theatre Library Association was founded in 1937 to support the preservation and accessibility of archival resources of the performing arts including theatre, dance, popular entertainment, broadcasting, and motion pictures. Each year the TLA awards book prizes for exemplary work: the George Freedley Memorial Award for work on theatre or live performance and the Richard Wall Memorial Award for recorded performances.

Alan Ginsberg's book uniquely weaves together the stories of four women who inspired, wrote, and performed the story Salome of the Tenements, a 1922 novel that was later developed into a film. 

The Theatre Library Association will host an awards gala in the Café of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on Friday October 13. 

On Wednesday, June 28th at 6:30pm, American Studies Board of Visitors member Alan Ginsberg will discuss his book, The Salome Ensemble: Rose Pastor Stokes, Anzia Yezeirska, Sonya Levine, and Jetta Gould at the New York Public Library. 

Shaun Abreu, a participant in the inaugural Freedom and Citizenship program of 2009, wrote an op-ed for Inside Higher Ed with Upward Bound counselor Amber Moorer and Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY). Their essay defends the Upward Bound programs that President Trump's proposed budget would underfund through major cuts to TRIO spending. Freedom and Citizenship students benefit from the college counseling they receive through the Double Discovery Center's programming, including Talent Search and Upward Bound. 

American Studies major Maddy Matthews  spoke about her experience in an interview for the Jack Miller Center's newsletter. The program "has allowed me to study liberal arts in the truest sense--to study an eclectic array of the humanities in order to make me a better person, citizen, and intellectual. " 

American Studies adviser Jason Resnikoff has been recognized by the Columbia College Committee on the Core for his exceptional work as a Contemporary Civilization instructor. The Committee's student representatives named Resnikoff 2016-2017 Outstanding Graduate Student Preceptor, an award offered with the following commendation:

"We have selected Jason Resnikoff for the Graduate Student Core Preceptor Award for excellence in teaching Contemporary Civilization. Personable and professional, Professor Resnikoff demonstrated an ability to encourage rigorous thinking regarding the texts and how they apply to the Core as a whole and beyond. Professor Resnikoff guides his students with a lucid understanding of how philosophy shapes—or doesn’t shape—reality, acknowledging the strengths and limitations of extrapolating action from the world of thought. In asking provocative questions and treating students as intellectual equals, Professor Resnikoff facilitates an environment well-suited to active engagement with Core material and its consequences."

April 21-22

The Columbia University Department of History celebrates the career of Professor Eric Foner, in a two-day conference considering the contributions and legacies of a tremendous scholar, writer, and teacher of American history. The Department invites all to join in tribute of Professor Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, revered scholar and active public intellectual, who reached thousands with his work and critically transformed our understanding of the United States.

Conference Program

April 25, 2017

5:00-6:30 pm

The Museum of the City of New York

Free Admission


American Studies adviser Ben Serby presents a lecture on Tony Schwartz (1923-2008), the visionary sound archivist who sought to engage New York youth and inspire dedication to local communities through his urban sound portraits. Serby's talk, entitled "Recording New York: Sound, Place, and Civic Identity," is part of MCNY's series Activism Under the Lens: Educator Evenings.

In an interview for WNYC News, Valerie Paley discusses the New-York Historical Society's new Center for Women's History.

The Center for Women's History brings together untold narratives of women who shaped American society and politics, in an effort to present a fuller picture of history. The first permanent institution of its kind, the Center for Women's History will house exhibitions, a research library, and an education program for the development of K-12 curricula. 

The Center presently features "Saving Washington," an exhibition that recasts the country's early days of independence. It studies the activity and influence of women such as Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison. Presenting over 150 historical objects and immersive installations, "Saving Washington" showcases the tensions central to women's political engagement in a period that denied them rights of citizenship.

What does democratic education mean today? Casey Blake, Roosevelt Montas, and Tamara Tweel discuss the value of a classical curriculum in an article for Inside Higher Education. Relating national politics to Columbia's Freedom and Citizenship summer seminar, Blake, Montas, and Tweel identify a present urgency for civic education, dependent on an understanding that "the canon is not a set of eternal doctrines once given and done with, but an ongoing argument that elucidates both the insights and the foibles that have shaped our public life." 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
6:00 pm
Room 523 Butler Library


Alice Kessler-Harris (Columbia), Reva Siegel (Yale Law School), Kevin Fong and Christine Scheuneman (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP). Moderated by Michael Hindus (Center for American Studies, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP).

Last year sixteen historians of women filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in a case involving the attempt of the state of Texas to regulate abortion clinics in a way that would make abortion services unavailable to most women.  Based on historical experience, the historians argued, any new law that claims to protect women's health and safety should be scrutinized carefully to assess whether its ostensibly protective function actually serves to deny liberty and equal citizenship to women.  Siding with the historians (and others), last year the Supreme Court struck down the Texas law.

Alice Kessler-Harris and Reva Siegel will join the lawyers who filed the brief, Kevin Fong and Christine Scheuneman, to discuss the case and the role of historians in the Court's decision.  Michael Hindus will moderate.

March 31, 7:30pm
St. George’s Episcopal Church

African American baritone and composer H.T. Burleigh (1866-1949) is the leader of arranging and publishing the solo concert spiritual and coaching a key generation of musicians including Will Marion Cook, Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson. Burleigh was also an active church musician, working for decades at St. George’s Church in New York City. 

In 1923, St. George’s Church choir performed a service of Negro spirituals featuring Burleigh’s compositions and arrangements. This innovative program was so popular it became a signature event for the church, and was performed annually for over 20 years.

This March 31st at 7:30pm at St. George’s Episcopal Church, the Harry T. Burleigh Society proudly presents a musical tribute to Burleigh and this historic program. Speakers will provide background and context for the Negro spiritual, Burleigh's arrangements and compositions will be performed, and oral history and archival material will illuminate the significance of Burleigh at St. George’s church and his influence on American musical culture.

Eventbrite link

Video promo:

Live broadcast at 7:30pm on March 31st:

Donald Trump believes he saw video of Muslim Americans cheering in Jersey City on September 11, 2001. Amazingly, on September 6, 1901 an almost identical rumor spread about Italian Americans cheering in Paterson, New Jersey after an anarchist fatally stabbed President McKinley. In this blog post for the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, Freedom and Citizenship Associate Director Jessica Lee explores the origins and repercussions of both rumors.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 to Saturday, February 18, 2017

1512 International Affairs Building (420 West 118th St) [NOTE: Opening night is in 1501 IAB]

Sponsored by the Harriman Institute and the Barnard College Department of Dance.

From the event page: The Cold War was fought on many fronts, with dance as a powerful weapon in its arsenal.  The ballet wars of the 1950s and 1960s, including high-profile defections, captured international headlines, but numerous forms of dance from folk dance and modern dance to rock and roll were drawn into an ideological struggle that pitted capitalist freedom again communist oppression.  Dancing the Cold War, a three-day international symposium sponsored by the Harriman Institute and curated by Lynn Garafola, brings together scholars, artists, critics, and others to explore the multiple dance encounters that took place during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States as well as the allies, clients, and surrogates of those countries in different parts of the world.  It will consider the impact of touring and the mass media in challenging ideological certainties and the changes that transformed the Russian dance community in the immediate post-Soviet period.

See the Harriman Institute for a full list of panels and participants.