“It was a moment of realization that instructors look forward to and hope every student reaches: Making connections between one’s life experience, society, and course content. And most importantly, how to go about changing ourselves and our existence within society!”
Before coming to Guttman Community College in September 2019, Professor Douglas Medina worked at Baruch College for over fifteen years and at Borough of Manhattan Community College for about two years on a part-time basis. “Having benefitted from a public education, including graduating from SUNY’s Westchester Community College, I have a deep commitment to supporting public higher education and specifically community colleges,” says Professor Medina. Gutman’s relatively small student population and team-based support system for students in the First-Year Experience was a major attraction for Professor Medina to apply for a position at Guttman.
Professor Medina’s research is focused on the political economy of higher education; he studies the influence of race and class politics, as well as mental health, on approaches to solving poverty and inequality. “My work has focused on CUNY’s history, particularly between 1969 and 1976, which mark two major policy changes at CUNY: open admission and the imposition of tuition.” As Professor Medina finishes his dissertation, he is also preparing for the 3rd Biennial Conference of the Caucus for a Critical Political Science, where he will be a panelist presenting a paper in February 2023.
Besides his research interests, Professor Medina particularly enjoys being the Chair of the University Faulty Senate’s Academic Freedom Committee as well as doing trainings related to Mental Health First Aid. Professor Medina notes that “now more than ever, faculty’s academic freedom is under threat from both external and internal sources. Some state legislatures across the United States are attempting to curtail our right to teach what we are trained to teach in our classrooms. Working with the committee to educate others about our rights as faculty has been challenging but gratifying.” As a Mental Health First Aid Trainer, Professor Medina has trained over 600 people in Mental Health First Aid, both at CUNY colleges and in communities throughout New York City. “Covid has exacerbated what was already an alarming increase in the number of people suffering from mental health problems. Educating others about how to respond to someone who is in the throes of experiencing a mental health problem is extremely important,” says Professor Medina.
Recently, Professor Medina started serving as the Vice-Chair of the Guttman PSC union chapter. “I am looking forward to working closely with all of our colleagues to make sure our concerns are heard and addressed at Guttman.” Colleagues and students alike respond to Professor Medina’s openness. The sensitivity he demonstrates while interacting with students encourages students to share their observations with him. “I vividly recall a student who came into class rather upset after reading an excerpt from Miya Tokumitsu’s Do What You Love And Other Lies About Success and Happiness, an assigned reading for Ethnographies of Work I,” says Professor Medina. “When I opened the discussion about the reading, she was the first to comment that after reading it, she realized that she was being exploited at work as an intern! She began to make connections between what her employer demanded of her and how she was being compensated. It was a moment of realization that instructors look forward to and hope every student reaches: Making connections between one’s life experience, society, and course content. And most importantly, how to go about changing ourselves and our existence within society!”
Indeed, Professor Medina describes his pedagogy as compassionate and consistent, grounded in a flexible structure and transparent communication. “I am not afraid to explore tangential topics with students related to their everyday lives. For example, I have often had deep conversations with students during class about trauma and how that influences our behavior in ways we may not realize at work, home, and in all of our relationships. We discuss how this affects politics and policy. It’s not rare for students to stay after class to follow up on conversations we have in class.”
When asked if there was anything else that he wanted to share with the Guttman community, Professor Medina responded, “That I am ALWAYS open to talking about topics related to politics, psychology, and (mostly salsa) dancing! Any of those topics will excite me. So let’s chat!”