Spring 2014’s Gone Global


2014 year of the horse comes galloping in with four courses to teach this spring semester. Thankfully two of the courses will be overlapping thematically with a focus on globalization and cosmopolitanism, one of which is a freshman composition course. And just to ensure that all the muscles get stretched, yours truly is also leading two senior capstone courses for graduating students to prepare for their exit interviews and compile their e-portfolios. For a peek at what yours truly will be doing in the classroom, have a go at the course titles and descriptions below with the required course texts pictured above.

Looks to be another busy semester at full speed ahead!


Required readings

  • F. Lechner, Globalization: The Making of World Society, Wiley & Blackwell, 2009.
  • Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World: Release 2.0, Norton, 2012.
  • Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Migrants for Export, University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

*In regards to electronic versions of texts and tablet devices, students are expected to reference the same pages from the editions listed above. If a student is unable to match page references to the class text, his/her participation grade will be greatly affected.

Supplemental Materials

  • The Learning (documentary film), PBS, 2011.
  • Additional articles, clips and videos posted on Moodle.
  • Three-ring binder for free-writes composed both in and outside of class.

Course Description

A course on globalization would be incomplete without critical engagement with the world’s poor. This course introduces students to the concept of the Third World. We examine its historical evolution from Cold War ideology to current neo-liberalism. We go on to investigate the concept of “internal Third Worlds” as a way to move beyond the binary of First/Third worlds—rich/poor, haves/have-nots. The aim of this course is to explore whether or not First and Third Worlds are really two separate entities existing on two different planes. In other words, are the power centers of the rich world and the underdevelopment of the poor separate from each other or are they two sides of the same coin? Do third world conditions exist in the United States and vice-versa? We examine how the “jigsaw puzzle” of the world economic system is very much interrelated, interconnected and codependent. Globalization has sped up the integration of the two worlds at such a rapid rate that it is now commonplace to find oneself simultaneously in the First and Third World in virtually any location around the globe. Some of the questions explored throughout the semester are:

  • What are the consequences of radically different worlds coexisting in the same space and time?
  • What does the degree of separation between the rich and poor mean for a just and stable society?
  • How do the poor respond to their economic and political marginalization?
  • What is the role of nationalism in an increasingly globalized world?
  • What are the specific costs of global inequality and how do we assess these costs?
  • What is the role of free markets in solving numerous problems associated with globalization, i.e. global warming?
  • What are the possibilities of a global democracy? Is it something we should strive for?
  • How do individual countries and the collective global community respond to social injustice?
  • What role does social, economic, political and environmental injustice play in international diplomacy?


ENGLISH 5: Argument & Research


“Citizens of the World”

What is this thing called “Culture”? From iPhones to Islam, we’re inundated with icons and ideals. How do we distinguish between a Warhol and Warhol’s fifteen minutes? How do we partake in OXFAM and of apple pie? We’ll discuss the manifestations of “Culture” both on the home front and in the world at large, and see if we can spot ourselves among the crowd.

Required Texts:

  • The Little Brown Handbook
  • Hubbach, S. Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum. 5th Ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2005.
  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. NY: NY: WW. Norton & Company, 2006.
  • Jen, Gish. Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self.
  • Minha, Trinh T. Elsewhere Within Here. Routledge,
  • Supplemental handouts will be posted on Moodle

Recommended Texts:

  • The American Heritage Dictionary


Liberal & Civic Studies 130:



Required Course Materials: 1 Spiral Notebook for in-class work, free-writes, and journal

Course Description

Welcome to L&CS 124, and congratulations on entering your senior year! This course is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what you have learned & experienced, and how you have grown over the course of your L&CS and Saint Mary’s College education.  As an interdisciplinary program that seeks to educate the whole person, and strives to develop self-awareness, ethical values, and habits of social responsibility, it is important for our students that they take the time to authentically reflect and assess their development.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will engage in a critical evaluation of their overall academic performance.
  2. Students will demonstrate self-awareness and be able to discuss their ethical value system and habits of social responsibility.
  3. Students will be able to articulate their thoughtful beliefs and attitudes about ethnic, racial, social-class, and gender inequalities manifested in our society.
  4. Students will write a comprehensive self-assessment that addresses academic, service-learning, personal growth and future personal/professional goals.


Some (not all) of January’s Reading List

This winter’s schedule might not include teaching classes but that doesn’t mean there’s plenty of homework and reading to do. At the start of 2014, along with the ongoing and maybe some new creative writing projects, the research question rattling this mind is can post-colonial discourse(s) inspire, challenge, and inform the craft of fiction writing? Pictured below are just some of the authors who may or may not light the path with a little Djuna Barnes thrown in for fun.

Previous readings for those interested included John Tomlinson’s Cultural Imperialism (Continuum, 2001), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin‘s The Empire Writes Back (Routledge, 2002) and Graeme Harper’s Creative Writing Studies: Practice, Research and Pedagogy (New Writing Viewpoints, 2007). Not pictured but also to be tackled will be Gish Jen’s Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Independent Self (Harvard University Press, 2013).

Maybe more to come on this burning question…

Mark Your Calendars and Please Share Widely

Life after MFA

Excited to be a part of this panel that includes Brenda Hillman, Joshua Mohr, and Colby Gillete where we talk about residencies, publishing, and doctorate programs at Saint Mary’s College, Wednesday, November 20, 2:35-3:35pm, Hagerty Lounge. Please share with interested parties and consider coming out.

Save the Date: “Life After the MFA Panel” @ SMC 11/20/13

Interested in writing fellowships and residencies? Yours truly has been booked in advance to talk about recent fellowships at The MacDowell Colony and the International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland UK for Saint Mary’s College of California’s MFA Creative Writing Program Panel: “Life After the MFA” Wednesday, 20 November, 2:35pm, location on campus TBA.

Hope to see you there!

1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94556 (925) 631-4000

Syllabizing for Fall 2013 or Performing the Poly-Pedagogic

Summer Prep Reading
Summer Prep Reading

Even before putting Spring 2013 to bed, planning and prepping for next academic year is well under-way and under serious deadline. Fall 2013 promises to be as challenging as the last two years of teaching, not only because this adjunct will technically have three new entire preps to teach. Truth being, yours truly has taught one of the courses two or three years ago, the fact is a new prep is no longer a new prep only after the third sequential time around. Next academic year like the previous two will be an acrobatic feat that entails schooling both incoming freshman and exiting seniors in the same semester though in different courses.

Forefront on the mind is the service learning or community engagement required in the senior capstone course, and questions such as the following brim with possibility:

  • how do we serve our communities without letting our ideologies and personal narratives skew our engagement?
  • how do we learn from the communities serve?
  • how do we integrate senior-level research and synthesis with the academic materials covered in the classroom, so that connections are organic and consistent throughout the semester?

The course requiring service learning is Liberal & Civic Studies 124: Democracy & Active Citizenship, detailed below:

This last Liberal and Civic Studies course is dedicated to your futures – to investigating possibilities and discussing potentials for your lives beyond Saint Mary’s. “Come to learn, learn to serve” is a cornerstone of the Lasallian tradition. How do you translate your experience into a life of civic and global engagement? What does social justice action look like now? This course invites you to apply the wealth of your learning at St. Mary’s towards the good of the community and to think about how active American citizenship affects the world. Previous Liberal & Civic Studies courses have explored issues of community, diversity, the environment, and the arts. These courses have given you experience in the process of self-assessment and have provided you with two very different service-learning experiences, one in direct service, and the other in systemic service. They have also promoted critical and integrative thinking skills. This class will bring together all of these themes, but with the difference that we will examine them from the perspectives of democratic principles and issues. Your service-learning work in this class will be organized as group projects to promote democratic skills of cooperation, communication, negotiation, and compromise. The class is not only a theme-based course, but a course in leadership skills.

Curriculum — required readings

  • Privilege, Power and Difference by Allan G. Johnson

  • The Constitution of the United States (http://www.usconstitution.net/)

  • The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties by David K. Shipler

  • Voices of Dissent: Critical Readings in American Politics (9th edition) by Grover & Peschek

General thematic thoughts about how to frame (or maybe how not to frame course content) include ideas about unconscious tribalism, the problematic problem-solution paradigm, and bolstering a critical framework for the community engagement, which entails creating a service learning rubric.

Sources for these found here:

  1. http://www.uni.edu/assessment/documents/servicelearningrubriclinksbytype.pdf
  2. http://www.uen.org/cmap/courses/CMap/files/LindonProject/PowerPointRubric.pdf

In addition to the above courses, the Fall 2013 teaching load includes two other classes, Seminar 2: Western Tradition I and English 3: Introduction to College Composition, each in two distinct programs, which isn’t freeway flying exactly, but teaching in three different programs requires different pedagogy, so maybe we can call this experience poly-pedagogic or the more boring multi-disciplinary.

It might not be technically true but sure feels like fall semester is already up and running.

Made the College’s Weekly Bulletin

Blushing profusely since yours truly was trying to keep this under the hat, but a dear friend and writer, who earlier this year encouraged applying to residencies and fellowships, insisted on sharing the good news. Who knew the news would spread to Saint Mary’s weekly bulletin?

Upcoming Writing Workshop at Mills College on “Political Narratives in Colonial Amnesia: Filipino/American Landscapes”

Honored to be invited as a speaker for writer Melissa Rae Sipon-Gabon’s Political Content & Engagement Writing Workshop where I’ll be discussing “Political Narratives in Colonial Amnesia: Filipino/American Landscapes” on Sunday, November 18 at Mills College.

PAWA is proud to co-sponsor this free and important writing workshop.


in story, memoir, and poetry


five FREE writing workshops
participants’ reading gala
“i am ND” anthology


DATES | Oct. 21, 2012 at 2pm–4pm
and every other Sunday onwards
(11/04, 11/18, 12/02, 12/16)

LOCATION | Mills College
5000 MacArthur Boulevard


instructor melissa r. sipin and hosted by

TAYO Literary Magazine
Philippine American Writers & Artists
Mills College

“Every colonized people—in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality—finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country. The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.”

— Frantz Fanon

This political content & engagement workshop invites writers to shape their memoir, poetry, prose, or performance work with an emphasis on impacting perceptions, be thy political, personal, social, literary, or cultural. We exchange our writing and develop voice and authority while working on techniques to elevate the richness and toughness of our voice. We read and analyze authors to observe how they effectively move the reader, affect perception, and perhaps opinion. Class discussions focus how our work affects how we are perceived and how the events of the world are understood. The elements of each genre are addressed as well.

amplify your writing
cultivate your craft


Weighing in on Puente Project Annual Student Leadership Conference 2012

On Saturday, October 13, I’ll be participating in this year’s Annual Puente Student Leadership Conference taking place at Saint Mary’s College, where I’ll be facilitating two back-to-back writing workshops titled “Power of Voice.” I’m hoping to sneak into Gary Soto’s keynote address and greatly looking forward to working with ambitious students who have already set themselves as leaders in their communities.

Puente Project is partnering with SMC undergraduate admissions and the Saint Mary’s College Intercultural Center to co-host a conference for over 500 Puente Project students from the San Francisco Bay area.  A University of California program, Puente Project is a college preparatory program  that serves low income, youth of color who are the first in their families to attend college.  Puente is open to all students,  with about 90 percent of our students being Latino descent.   The purpose of this conference is to expose Puente students to a new college campus and to begin their exposure to leadership, college preparation, and identity development as a college going student.

Mini Agenda

Breakfast: 8:00 am – 9:00 am

Welcome 9:30 am

Keynote Speaker: Gary Soto, Author and Playwright: 9:50 am -10:30 am

First Workshop Session: 10:45 am – 11:35 am

Second Workshop Session with new student group: 11:45am- 12:35 pm

Students back to Soda Center for closing program: 1:30 pm

Students Dismissed: 3:15 pm