Heat and Light – Revolution on Campus

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Episode: Revolution Starts on Campus

Series: Heat and Light

Release Date: 8/27/2018
Host: Phillip Martin

Episode Link (No Transcript): https://heatandlightpod.com/revolution-starts-on-campus/ 


Tags: Columbia University, Campus Unrest, Student Protest, 1960s, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights Movement, SNCC, SDS, College, Education, 1968


The episode focuses on the racial tensions surrounding the construction of a segregated gym that sparked the student takeover of Columbia University in 1968. Host Phillip Martin speaks with scholars Stefan Bradley and Michael Kazin about how the takeover took place and inspired other major protests that year such as the Democratic National Convention.

Notes: Kera Lovell: I love this episode! It does an excellent job of situating this specific protest event within the much larger zeitgeist of unrest within this Vietnam era. It combines an oral history interview with historical analysis. The complexity of the issue can make the episode both intriguing and confusing to first-year students unfamiliar with this time period (making it also very engaging for upper-level history students!). If you wanted to stray away from a typical response paper, I would suggest having students create one of two creative assignments that captures the key arguments and evidence in the podcast: a mind map or an infographic (see below). 

Columbia University occupation
(Photo by St. Clair Bourne, photographer, 1968) A photo of the occupation inside Columbia University. Find more information and photos like these at the Columbia University Libraries: https://exhibitions.library.columbia.edu/exhibits/show/1968/protests/sas

Assignment Ideas:

Mind Map the Podcast: A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information in a non-linear way like thought bubbles on a page. [Check out a definition here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map%5D Mind maps help you think out of chronological order and identify recurrent patterns. They also encourage you to brainstorm numerous topics and explore the ways in which those topics are linked across multiple sources.

Encourage your students to begin their mind map with a question at the center, for example: Historian Stefan Bradley stated in the podcast, “Everything happens in time and space.” What was happening locally in Harlem and how was it connected with broader issues nationally and globally that helped inspire the phrase, “1, 2, 3 Columbias!” The mind map will serve as an inventory of all the key points in the podcast. Branching out from the key themes should be specifics about that topic with descriptive phrases – even further research. Your students can make their visualization using a mind-mapping software online (many are free, like Bubbl.us) or you can hand-draw it.

Create an Infographic about the Podcast: Creating an infographic would be a great way of having students form an argument visually. Students could be asked to choose 3-5 key points from the podcast that correspond with a specific prompt, for example: What are 3-5 factors that influenced the Columbia University takeover? Or, how was the Columbia University takeover indicative of larger issues in American society and politics? The apps Venngage or Canva are free services that will allow your students to create infographics with templates. 


Columbia University Takeover

 A scene from the Columbia student protests. Former Barnard student and Students for a Democratic Society (S.D.S.) member Nancy Biberman notes, “Two strands of anger and disgust converged: what the university was doing to aid the war effort, and what [it] was doing that was racist in our neighborhood.” (Photo by Steve Schapiro) Find more photographs and excerpts from oral history interviews at Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/03/the-students-behind-the-1968-columbia-uprising





Wikipedia page: Columbia University Takeover of 1968: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_University_protests_of_1968

Book: Stefan Bradley, Upending the Ivory Tower (the scholar featured in the podcast): https://www.amazon.com/Upending-Ivory-Tower-Rights-League/dp/1479873993 

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