Teaching Baltimore Together: building thematic cooperation between classes


  • Samuel Gerald Collins Towson University
  • Matthew Durington Towson University
  • Nicole Fabricant Towson University




Baltimore Uprising, community activism, campus activism, urban anthropology


One year ago, Baltimore citizens took to the streets to protest not only the death of Freddie Grey, but the structural inequalities and structural violence that systematically limit the opportunities for working-class African Americans in Baltimore.  The protests, though, were not just confined to Baltimore City.  Borne on sophisticated understandings of intersectionality and political economy, the moral imperatives from the Baltimore Uprising resonated with students at our university in Baltimore County, where campus activists moved to both support the people of Baltimore while using the moment of critical reflection to critique racial inequalities on campus.  Since students were displaying a holistic, anthropological understanding of race and inequality in Baltimore, we decided to structure our classes accordingly and brought together several courses in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice in order to examine the interrelationships between power, race, class, public space and urban development.  We taught common texts, visited each other’s classes, and planned events that brought students together with community leaders in Baltimore to discuss common concerns and to learn from each other.  This paper reports on that experiment and suggests that a pedagogical model premised on drawing thematic linkages between existing courses is one way to address current events that impact us all while allowing students to direct the course of their own education. 

Author Biographies

Samuel Gerald Collins, Towson University

Samuel Gerald Collins is an anthropologist at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland.  His present work examines the urban as the confluence of people and social media, and looks to intervene in strengthening the ability of communities in cities to represent themselves.  He is the author of All Tomorrow’s Culture: Anthropological Engagements with the Future (2008), Library of Walls (2009) and, along with co-author Matthew Durington, Networked Anthropology (2014).  

Matthew Durington, Towson University

Matthew Durington is professor of anthropology at Towson University.  He is the co-author of Networked Anthropology (Routledge 2014) with Samuel Collins.  His current ethnographic research focuses on housing, race and media methodologies in Baltimore and Southern Africa.  

Nicole Fabricant, Towson University

Nicole Fabricant is an associate professor of anthropology at Towson University. She is the author of Mobilizing Bolivia’s Displaced: Indigenous Politics and the Struggle over Land (UNC Press 2012) and co-editor of Remapping Bolivia: Resources, Territory, and Indigeneity in a Plurinational State (School for Advanced Research Global Indigenous Politics Series 2011). Her current ethnographic work focuses on the history of toxicity in Curtis Bay, Maryland and youth movements fighting for environmental justice.


Campbell, Colin (2015). “Towson U. President Signs Students’ Demands After 8-hour Protest in His Office.” Baltimore Sun 11/19/2015. Accessed at www.baltimoresun.com on August 21, 2016.

Chasmar, Jessica (2015). “Towson University President Signs Black Students Demands After An 8-Hour Protest In His Office”. Washington Post 11/19/2015. Accessed at www.washingtontimes.com on November 19, 2015.

Collins, Samuel Gerald and Matthew Slover Durington (2014). Networked Anthropology. NY: Routledge.

Gomez, Mariela B. (2013). Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Harvey, David (2013). Rebel Cities. NY: Verso.

LeFebvre, Henri (1996[1967]). Writings on Cities. Cambridge, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.

Leminik Arthur, Mikaila (2010). Student Activism and Curricular Change in Higher Education. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Logan, John and Harvey L. Molotch (1987). Urban Fortunes. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Talmage, Craig, Rosemary Dombrowski, Mikulas Pstross, C. Bjorn Peterson and Richard C. Knopf (2015). “Discovering Diversity Downtown.” Metropolitan Universities 26(1): 113-146.

Turner, David (2016). “How Black Students are Saving Higher Education.” Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and STudent Affairs 2(3): 6-7.

Watson-Thompson, Jomella (2015). “Exploring Community.” Metropolitan Universities 26(1): 11-34.

White, Khadijah (2016). “Black lives on campus matter.” Soundings 63: 86-97. https://doi.org/10.3898/136266216819377002

Wood, Pamela (2015). “Towson Activists, Photographer Devin Allen honored in TIME Magazine ‘Person of the Year’ Issue” Accessed at www.baltimoresun.com on December 9, 2015.


Additional Files