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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Director, Fall 2017: Mark Stern, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

APPLY ONLINE - Deadline November 4, 2016

The Philadelphia study group offers students who are interested in a wide range of questions in and around education, urban studies, public policy, and social justice a full semester of coursework and experience in one of the most historically iconic and dynamic cities in the world.  Lauded as “the birthplace of American democracy,” Philadelphia will be the backdrop by and through which the program will critically engage in an exploration of contemporary education policy and its relationship to material questions about the changing spatial and demographic topographies of American cities and theoretical questions about changing relationship between the public and the state.

In close conversations with students, teachers, families, and community members, this program will provide an experiential platform to gain a more robust understanding about the issues surrounding contemporary education and urban policy and the community-based struggles that have emerged in response.

Program Structure

Students will carry a full course load of four credits while on the study group.  Colgate course credit will appear on the transcript upon satisfactory completion of all study group courses.

Required Courses

All study group participants are required to enroll in the following courses:

EDUC 310: Politics in Education (Stern)

Survey of the landscape of contemporary education policy and its relationship to contemporary forms of urban “development.”  Philadelphia will be utilized as a case study with a particular focus on how race and class have been operationalized to legitimate political and material shifts.  (EDUC and ALST credit)

EDUC 317: Democracy & Education (Stern)

The past 10 years has seen a rise in activism and protest across the country led, perhaps, by PK-12 school workers and students (secondary and higher education).  From funding inequities to decolonizing the curriculum, new claims are being made about the relation between democracy and education.  This course will explore these claims in conversation with philosophical literature about the relationship between education and the public in democratic societies.  (EDUC credit)

FMST 333: Documentary Film (Louis Massiah, Scribe Video Center, Macarthur Fellow)

This course surveys the traditions of personal, experimental, ethnographic, and political documentary filmmaking. This overview of the history and aesthetics of documentary examines its origins, forms, goals, and contemporary styles while at the same time problematizing its canonical readings and reception. Issues covered include documentary styles, documentary representation of history and memory, the filmmaker’s relationship to the subject and the viewer, and the impact of technology on documentary techniques. Particular attention is paid to the influence that certain social and political movements have had on documentaries and filmmakers. (FMST credit)

SOCI 220:  Gender, Sexuality, and Society (Mara Hughes, Independent Scholar)

This interdisciplinary course explores gender and sexuality as primary markers of social inequality in our society and among the most salient organizing agents of our everyday lives. Course readings span several disciplines, including literature, history, philosophy, sociology, and psychology. Students analyze gender and sexuality using comparative historical and sociological perspectives. Subthemes of the course include culture, socialization, body and performance, intersectionality, essentialism, privilege, resistance, and social change. (LGBT, SOCI, WMST credit)

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

The group is open to all members of the classes of 2018, 2019, & 2020 who are in good academic standing.  Preference will be given to students who have completed The American School (EDUC 101) and/or who demonstrate concerted interest in urban education, education policy, urban studies, and movements for social justice.

Living Arrangements

Students will live at International House Philadelphia (IHP; in the University City neighborhood (directly between Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania).  Each student will have a single room in a suite with a full kitchen. IHP has most amenities on-site, including Internet, laundry access, and study spaces; it is also one of the premiere art and cultural spaces in the city.

Students will have free or reduced-price access to all programming as well as a reduced fee for access to the Drexel University gym. Academic classes will be based in West Philadelphia, but will take place around the city.  IHP is close to multiple modes of public transportation with access to everything the city has to offer.  No cars are needed.  Colgate will make all the necessary arrangements for apartment leases and will charge students for housing.

Field Trips

The group will take two field trips out of town (Worlds End State Park and NYC) as well as three or four excursions in the Philadelphia area to various cultural events and landmarks.  


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Calendar and Deadlines

All students interested in applying should plan on attending one of the informational sessions. The deadline for applications to the Fall 2017 Philadelphia Study Group is Friday, November 4. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online. Student notification of selections will take place late December 2016. 

Information Sessions

Monday, October 172016 at 11:45 a.m.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016  at 2:30 p.m.

Both meetings will be held in 101 McGregory Hall (Center for International Programs)

More information

For more information please contact Professor Mark Stern, 12 Persson Hall or by e-mail at

Sponsoring Departments

General Information

Information for Non-Colgate Applicants

Information for non-Colgate applicants

Course-related Materials

Program Alumni