Making Good on Our Public Mission: The Future of Public Scholarship at the GC


Date(s) - 04/27/2023
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Image of a sunrise over a mountain and clouds with text that reads: "Making Good on Our Public Mission: The Future of Public Scholarship at the GC, Thursday, 27 April 2023 @ 2:00pm Eastern"

The CUNY Graduate Center often proclaims its mission of “Graduate Education for the Public Good.” Many scholars come here to learn how to do public scholarship. Many more come here because they already practice public scholarship and want to continue doing so at an institution aimed at relevant research for the people of our university and city. But those of us who are doing and supporting public scholarship at the GC recognize that this work can be emotionally and intellectually fraught, and is not always rewarded by the institution.

CUNY students, faculty, staff, administrators, and others across CUNY and NYC have been theorizing and advancing university infrastructures that build capacity for public scholarship within and beyond the university for years. CUNY structures and cultures have been shaped in no small part by the daily pathways of CUNY and NYC publics between work, home, school, communities, and neighborhoods. What can we learn from each other about the conditions (social, institutional) that make public projects possible? And how can the GC better support and connect public scholars working across disciplines?

This event’s panel and working groups will help us think concretely about the democratic ethics and material resources necessary to create sustained avenues for public scholarship. Because our current moment is marked by funding instability at the city and state level and the contraction of resources for public scholarship from private foundations, this is a critical moment to think broadly, deeply, and collaboratively about the future of public scholarship at the GC and CUNY.

We invite participants to begin working toward concrete outcomes. For example, a Public Scholarship PhD Certificate is already under consideration. How might such a structure be used to build closer connections and stronger infrastructure to support public work? What other outcomes, such as an evolving toolkit for public scholarship at the GC, might we develop?


2-3:15pm Opening panel: “Celebrating, Sustaining, and Building: Public Scholarship Models at the GC”

Moderator: Bianca C. Williams, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Faculty Lead of the PublicsLab

Panelists: Ángeles Donoso Macaya, Jill Cirasella, Zee Dempster, Mica Baum-Tuccillo

3:15-3:30 Caffeine break

3:30-4:30 Working Groups

  • Methods, Hacks, and Tools (Or: How to Get Sh*t Done), facilitated by Kendra Sullivan
  • Commitment and Accountability, facilitated by Ángeles Donoso Macaya
  • Labor and Public Scholarship, facilitated by Joseph Torres-González
  • Curriculum and the Dissertation, facilitated by Stacy Hartman

4:30-5:15 Share-out, discussion, next steps

5:15-6 Reception/dinner 

Registration & Event Details

This event will be held in-person at the Graduate Center, in the Skylight Room (9th floor, Room 9100).

Participants must register on Eventbrite here. Please reach out to the PublicsLab with any logistical questions or accessibility needs at

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities.

We thank Ally Ganster, Conor Tomás Reed, Justin Beauchamp, Kendra Sullivan, and Stacy Hartman for their work in organizing this event.