Sex and Gender as Biological and Social Constructs
Katia Perea, CUNY-Kingsborough
Kelli Duncan, Vassar College

What do Bob's Burgers, My Little Pony, and Avatar: The Last Airbender have in common? Cartoons can playfully challenge traditional gender norms commonly portrayed on television. They do this by displaying systems of gender behavior that are both intentionally overt and naturally transgressive to the traditional constructs of masculine and feminine traits. This course will first focus on the biological basis of sex and how this may or may not influence gender, and then will examine how gender constructs are reproduced, as well as challenged, in media presentations, with a focus on cartoons.

Students will be asked to think and write critically about the interactions of sex and gender as both birth determinants and social constructs that influence our behavior and our experiences as human beings. In addition to cartoons, select readings will help to further identify a range of persistent stereotypes as power structures, and how they can be used to either promote or deviate from normative gender roles. Among the cartoons chosen for critical examination are Bee and Puppycat (Frederator), Bob's Burgers (FOX), Adventure Time (Cartoon Network), My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (HUB- Hasbro Studios), Avatar: The Last Airbender (Nickelodeon) and Star vs. the Forces of Evil (Disney).

The Body Politic: Disciplining Bodies, Disciplining Behaviors
Michelle Ronda, CUNY-Borough of Manhattan Community College 
Eric Trump, Vassar College

This interdisciplinary course explores the ways in which power structures our behavior and determines what we can and cannot do with our bodies. The difference between the normal and the pathological (or deviant) is not naturally given, but shaped by, for example, tests, laws, custom, wealth, gender, and ethnicity. Depending on time and place, the normal might be deviant and vice versa. This course introduces you to ethical theories and sociological perspectives related to how our bodies and our selves are shaped by the ways we succumb to and resist coercive practices of power. Through readings of key philosophical, bioethical, literary, and legal texts, in-class debates, and exposure to guest speakers, we will explore how medicine and medical research, law, the criminal justice system, and social norms shape and sometimes transform the political, cultural, and social meanings of the human body and the way it inhabits the world. You will learn to examine and discuss complex topics, and to assemble and present research to your professors and peers. The only prerequisite is a willingness to read complex arguments carefully, to be comfortable with ambivalence, and to be open to views other than your own.

Growing Up in War and Peace
Bojana Blagojevic, LaGuardia Community College
Nicholas de Leeuw, Vassar College

The current refugee crisis has focused the world’s attention on the youngest victims of the wars and conflicts that force families to leave their homes and seek protection in a new land.  In fact, this is nothing new. Armed conflicts often involve children, and inevitably change the lives of children growing up in the context of war.  The basic human rights of children are trampled, and the course of their development, and the development of the broader society is altered. This course will take a multi-level approach to the causes and effects of war and pathways to peace, employing psychological, evolutionary, political and human rights perspectives. For example, we will consider how our notions of human rights are related to the basic needs of developing children, which in turn are grounded in our evolutionary history. We will look at the psychology of aggression, obedience, and attachment to help understand authoritarianism, liberalism, and resistance. Our readings will include formal academic studies and essays, as well as case studies and personal narratives of people whose lives were shaped by experiences of human rights violations. In addition to readings, personal and shared human experiences will be used as resources in our learning process. Finally, we will reflect on ways of building peace and on our own responsibilities in a diverse and complex global society.


Bojana Blagojevic
Political Science
LaGuardia Community College

Bojana Blagojevic is a Professor of Political Science at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. She is originally from Bosnia where she spent her early teenage years in a war zone. She came to the United States after the war, on a student visa. After finishing high school, she attended a community college where she majored in Liberal Arts, International Studies. She attended Rutgers University in New Jersey where she received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Political Science and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Global Affairs. In addition to teaching, Professor Blagojevic worked as a Conflict Prevention Consultant at the United Nations Development Group Office in New York. During the war in her home country, she worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Professor Blagojevic’s research interests include causes of war, peacebuilding, human rights, and the role of sport in development and peace.  This is her third year teaching in Exploring Transfer with Professor de Leeuw.


Nicholas de Leeuw
Vassar College

Nicholas de Leeuw has been a drug store manager, an economics research assistant, a radio DJ, and a psychology professor.  Within psychology, his primary interest is in the healthy development of children, and especially how children develop a sense of humor. He is currently directing a program that helps college students get out into the community for internships and volunteer work. This job has allowed him to work closely with many nonprofit agencies working to improve the lives of people in the Hudson Valley.  This is his third year teaching in Exploring Transfer with Professor Biagojevic.


Kelli A. Duncan
Vassar College

Dr. Kelli A. Duncan is an Assistant Professor of Biology; and Neuroscience and Behavior at Vassar College.  She and her collaborators, including undergraduate researchers, examine the role of steroid hormones on repair of the nervous system following traumatic brain injury (TBI).  She received her Ph.D. in Biology from Georgia State University in 2008, where she studied sex differences in neuronal development. She then continued this research as a post-doc at Lehigh University where she also began to examine the role of steroid hormones following TBI, until starting at Vassar College in 2011.  This is her second year with Exploring Transfer.


Katia Perea

Dr. Katia Perea is a Sociology professor for CUNY - City University New York in Brooklyn at Kingsborough Community College. She is a cartoon scholar and has a PhD in Sociology and Media Studies from the New School for Social Research specialized in identifying playful transgressions within the culture industry that present counter hegemonic potential. She is currently working on her book "Girl Cartoons" and an ethnography project on the Bronies.  This is her second year with Exploring Transfer.


Michelle Ronda
Criminal Justice
Borough of Manhattan Community College

Professor Ronda is Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY. Professor Ronda taught "Legal Justice, Social Justice: The Politics of Imprisonment" in Exploring Transfer in Summer 2016 with Professor Sidney Plotkin, and is thrilled to be returning in Summer 2017 to teach with Professor Eric Trump.  Professor Ronda has long-standing interests in deviance and social control, as well as criminal and social justice. She has taught courses in sociology, criminology, research methods, urban studies, and theories of justice. She has also taught courses in prison, at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York State's maximum-security women's prison, in the Marymount Manhattan College Bedford Hills College Program. Professor Ronda has also taught courses in prison that combine "outside" college students with incarcerated college students, having been trained by the Inside-Out Center at Temple University. Professor Ronda is currently working on a research project that explores the impact of these combined, or inside-out-type courses, on students, faculty, higher education institutions, and prisons in New York State. Professor Ronda earned her BA from Queens College/CUNY in 1989, an MA in Speech Communication from the University of Texas at Austin, and her PhD in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2011.


Eric Trump
German Studies and Science and Technology Studies
Vassar College 

Eric Trump is a professor in the German Studies and Science, Technology, and Society departments at Vassar College. His undergraduate work was in English literature at the University of Toronto in Canada, and his graduate work was in journalism at Columbia University and German language and literature at New York University. He has taught at New York University, Purchase College, and Vassar College, as well as in Germany and Spain. He was also an editor of the Hastings Center Report, a bioethics journal, where he started writing about medical ethics for such publications as the New York Times and Health Affairs. He has taught with Exploring Transfer once before and is honored to do so again.