2020-21 Research Streams

HMRT 176: Human Rights 
HMRT 276: Research in Human Rights

Alexandra Moore

These courses take a two-fold approach to human rights research. First, we will discuss the histories and concepts that constitute human rights. Are they best described as legal instruments, social norms, cultural practices, discourses, political ideologies, or institutions? What are some of the historical roots of the so-called “human rights regime”? Is it a fatally flawed set of norms that should be abandoned in our contemporary moment; or, do the recent attacks on those norms by the forces of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of fear and hate demand that we re-double our efforts to promote human rights? To help explore those questions with rigor and insight, we will consider how different academic and professional disciplines approach human rights work and research. We will read texts from History, Philosophy, Political Science, English/Literary Studies, Law, International Relations, Visual Media Studies, and Anthropology, and we will work with Binghamton professors who represent many of those departments. In considering human rights from different perspectives, we will continually ask how different methodologies and research questions shape one another. Because human rights is an inherently interdisciplinary area of study, we will also consider the challenges and rewards that human rights research demands. In the second semester, students will choose to join a current research group in the Human Rights Institute to investigate topics such as incarceration, fascism, indigenous rights, terrorism, women’s rights and more. The Human Rights course HMRT 176 fulfills the Global Interdependencies (G), Humanities (H), Social Sciences (N), and/or Harpur Writing (W) general education requirements.

Alexandra Moore, professor of English and co-director of the Human Rights Institute, will lead the program. Moore publishes widely in representations of torture, enforced disappearance, incarceration, gendered rights violations, child soldiers, humanitarian interventionism and related topics in contemporary literature and film. She also works with torture survivors and those fleeing political persecution.

Alexandra Moore

ANTH 150: What is Human Nature?
ANTH 250: Beyond Human Nature

Kathleen Sterling

 What does it mean to be human? How can the exploration of this question enable you to understand current events in our dynamic world? Start your academic career by investigating a fundamental question about life. Students in this course will learn to use the tools and perspectives of multiple disciplines, such as anthropology, psychology, philosophy, biology, and religion, and apply them to various facets of human life. We will consider what is fundamentally human about gender, sexuality, health, violence, and cooperation. We will evaluate the evidence used to make claims about humanity and look for what is missing from these explanations and where biases exist. In the second term, students will work on research projects that can help further our understanding of the possibilities of human nature. This course can be taken to fulfill the Social Sciences (N), Oral Communication (O), Wellness (S), and/or Harpur Writing (W) general education requirements.

Project Leader Kathleen Sterling is an associate professor of anthropology. Her research is centered in the French Pyrenees where she is currently co-director of the Peyre Blanque, an open-air late Paleolithic site. Her interests include lithic technology, learning and identity, communities of practice, Paleolithic visual imagery, hunting and gathering groups, gender and feminist science, Black feminist theory, landscape archaeology and the sociopolitics of archaeology. The themes of her work are concerned with dispelling myths about human ancestors as violent, primitive and limited. She is also concerned with equal opportunity in anthropology and science in general, particularly in the ways in which this has an impact on knowledge production.

Kathleen Sterling

ENVI 105: People, Politics, and the Environment I 
ENVI 205: People, Politics, and the Environment II

Valerie Imbruce

People live in places and imprint meaning and function on the natural environment. This can be a local, or even individual process, but is also inescapably tied to broader political, economic, and cultural dynamics. The U.S. population is characterized by high mobility, and international migration is a growing phenomenon, with people frequently leaving their places of birth for new ones. As people move from place to place for any of life’s reasons--whether to go to school, flee natural or political disasters, or to seek new economic opportunity--they are faced with learning about and integrating themselves into new places. How do we learn about a new place? How does our understanding of the places in which we live shape our ability to sustain ourselves and our environment? We will develop our own approach to studying the place you find yourself as a college student--Binghamton--how it came to be settled at the confluence of two rivers, its transition to a set of utopian, industrial communities with factory work that attracted European immigrants, to then become the birthplace of modern computing and aviation. We will consider this trajectory in the current post-industrial phase where flooding linked to global climate change, revitalized downtown areas, and out-migration are major concerns. While we will focus on Binghamton, these courses will give you the tools to study any place. You will practice a variety of research methods used broadly within the field of environmental studies to demonstrate the need to integrate perspectives and approaches when studying the relationship between people, places, and the natural environment. In the second semester you will join an ongoing research project focused on questions of sustainability or design your own project. This course will satisfy the Social Science (N) or Oral Communication (O) general education requirement, and the Writing (W) requirement Harpur College. It also satisfies the requirement for ENVI 101 towards an environmental studies major.

Valerie Imbruce is director of the Undergraduate Research Center and a research associate of Environmental Studies. Her research has focused on the influence of urban demands on food supply networks and agricultural systems, particularly among Asian-American communities in New York City. She has consulted on international agriculture development projects as well as worked with grassroots food system organizations in the United States. She is committed to fostering interdisciplinary research and education since many of the world's problems do not fall into the disciplinary categories of higher education and believes undergraduate research is one way to accomplish this goal.

Dr. Valerie Imbruce

ARTH 180C: Thinking Through Painting

Pamela Smart

This course is about investigating the effects that artists elicit through the materials they use and their techniques of application. It will take an historical approach to artists’ paints and painting techniques, paying particular attention to moments of intense experimentation with new formulations and transformed studio practices at specific historical junctures. How do specific artists mobilize paints, canvas, varnish, and other materials to communicate with viewers? We will explore who the artist imagines he or she is primarily engaging with and to what end, and how audiences and their manner of engagement with paintings is shaped in specific historical and cultural circumstances. Students will have hands-on experience with different kinds of paints—including tempera, oil, watercolors, and acrylics—to gain some insight into how they behave, along with techniques of application specific to particular paints and artists. No artistic expertise is necessary nor expected! During the first semester of the course, students will participate in the close analysis of several paintings from differing historical periods. We will use a range of analytic techniques and historical records to glean information concerning the pigments used, how they were applied, and whether or not the paintings are what they claim to be. The second semester of this two-course sequence will entail a guided research process whereby students will each conduct an in-depth analysis of a painting of any time period in the collection of the Binghamton University Art Museum and will together conceptualize and develop an exhibition focusing on these works that will open in the museum in the last week of the Spring semester. This course can be taken to fulfill the Aesthetics (A), Oral Communication (O), and Composition (C) general education requirements.

Pamela Smart is engaged in a series of studies concerned with the crafting of affect. The first, Sacred Modern: Faith, Activism, and Aesthetics in the Menil Collection (2011), addressed the crafting of aesthetic sensibility in the exhibitionary practices of an art museum. The second is concerned with the work of technical experts in sustaining the Rothko Chapel's venerated "atmospheric pressure," as the site undergoes restoration. It explores the technical challenge of calibrating prosaic exigencies of materials, security, access and climate, with institutional commitments to experiential intensity. The third study is interested in the visceral impact of materials, focusing on the newly developed acrylic paints deployed experimentally by artists working in collaboration with chemists in the mid-twentieth century. She is also interested in contemporary experiments in the form and function of the art museum.

headshot of Pamela G. Smart

HIST 186A: Immigration and Refugee Resettlement

Kent Schull

This course devotes two successive semesters to studying and assisting in the work of the American Civic Association (ACA). The ACA is a local non-profit community organization that has assisted individuals and families with immigration services and refugee resettlement in New York’s Southern Tier since 1939. The first semester introduces students to the work of the ACA, including local, national, and global immigration and refugee issues and needs. A particular focus will be on developing interdisciplinary knowledge base, critical thinking and research skills related to immigration and refugees within New York and the United States more generally. Additionally, students will work under the direction of the course instructor to help process, preserve, and organize the ACA’s extensive archive of case files, material culture, documents, programming, and photographs related to local immigrant and refugee communities. During the 2nd semester and under the continued guidance of the course instructor, students will continue working with the ACA and develop research projects based upon the archival materials about local immigrant and refugee communities. The end goal is to complete their projects and present their findings to the broader Binghamton and university communities. This course will satisfy general education credits in Global Interdependencies (G), Joint Oral and Composition (J), and Social Sciences (N).

Kent Schull was a twice Fulbright scholar to Turkey whose publications include Prisons in the Late Ottoman Empire: Microcosms of Modernity (EUP, 2014), two co-edited volumes: Living in the Ottoman Realm: Sultans, Subjects, and Elites (IUP, 2016) and Law and Legitimacy in the Ottoman Empire & Republic of Turkey (IUP, 2016), as well as several articles and book chapters. He is currently serving as the editor of the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (JOTSA) and the book series editor for Edinburgh Studies on the Ottoman Empire. His research and teaching interests include the social and cultural history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East, criminal justice, Middle East Diaspora Studies, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and the Middle East Refugee Crisis.

headshot of Kent F. Schull

EDUC 111: The Social Context of Learning I 
EDUC 112: The Social Context of Learning II

Amber Simpson

How do students learn? What are students’ attitudes and beliefs regarding the teaching and learning of a particular discipline? How do educators and parents effect students’ opportunities to learn? How do students’ social identities (e.g., gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) affect their learning? How do students become interested in literature and engineering? These are examples of questions that are of interest to educational researchers in a range of disciplines. Likewise, these questions are not limited to any particular age group or educational setting as these questions are of concern in classroom settings, museums, libraries, after-school programs, summer camps, and home environments to name a few. In the first semester, students will be introduced to various research methods common in educational research studies. They will also gain experience in collecting and analyzing data in the form of surveys, observations and video recordings, interviews, photographs, and drawings. At the conclusion of the first semester, students will have designed an initial research project based on a topic of interest and gaps in the current literature base. In the second semester, students will carry out their research study and disseminate findings through an appropriate outlet. This course can be taken to fulfill the Composition (C) and Oral Communication (O) general education requirements.

Amber Simpson joined the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership in 2017. She received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Secondary Education from East Tennessee State University, and her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Specialist degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Lincoln Memorial University. Simpson spent five years as a high school mathematics teacher in Tennessee before returning to Clemson University to receive her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, Mathematics Education.

headshot of Amber Simpson