Written by Patrick Slutter, IPED
One of the best aspects of being a graduate student at Fordham is living with and interacting with New York City. The size and scale of the city may seem daunting to some, which lends to the reputation, that New York is anonymous and indifferent. However, with context of the city’s history and the people who shape it today and in the past. Dr. Sheinkopf NYC and Dynamic Change course perfectly blended the history and academic facets of studying the city with the in person interactions with people who know and affect the city today. Dr. Sheinkopf encyclopedic knowledge of the city, through the policies and the people, as well as the academic papers, which examine them, is an invaluable resource for any New Yorker trying to get their arms around the complexity of New York City today. Dr. Sheinkopf undoubtedly has the knowledge and energy to carry through a two and half hour lecture without protest from any students, but instead, the class was enriched through round table discussions where students were given equal footing as the expert special guests.
The persisting issues that the city faces, among them housing, crime and transportation, are best first approached as phenomenons to understand rather than problems to solve. Throughout the class, not a week would go by when the course material came alive in the news. Behind each headline, there is a hundred years of history, for instance the persisting crises of the City Housing Authority do not exist in a bubble; they are the direct results of decisions made by elected and unelected officials of the course of decades. The L train debacle, the future of Riker’s Island, the opioid crisis, and Amazon’s move to Long Island City are all the subjects of ardent conversations between New Yorkers. Dr. Sheinkopf’s classes changed the way that I think and talk about these issues and others.
Another valuable aspect of the Dynamic Change class was that it drew students from a variety of backgrounds. Too often in graduate level study students get cloistered away in their own discipline with very little cross pollination from one field to the next. All of the students in the course took a chance by signing up for a class not specifically in any of our departments, that made all the difference.
Dr. Sheinkopf course was able to appeal to me as a student in the International Political Economy and Development (IPED), but it also appealed to computer science students and teachers. We each brought our own experiences and perspectives to the class which made it truly interdisciplinary. Truly inspired learning has a “going down the rabbit hole” nature to it. The NYC and Dynamic Change readings and discussions lead me to pursue more books on the subject which only incited me to go further. This spring semester I am taking Urban Economics which gives me the opportunity to explore the issues and history of New York City further.