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Prof. Shepard Makes List of Nation’s ‘Most Innovative’ Professors

Photo credit: Caroline Shepard

City Tech has a faculty that has distinguished itself with awards like Fulbright grants to teach or conduct research. Now, it has received more recognition, as Benjamin Shepard (assistant professor of human services) has made Playboy magazine’s list of the 20 most innovative professors in the nation. 

Shepard is a “street theorist,” according to the Playboy 2010 Honor Roll article in this month’s issue. It credits him with not “just studying the role of performance and play in social activism — he tests it for himself.” 

The Carroll Gardens resident made the list along with professors from schools such as MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Brown University who Playboy says are "reinventing the classroom and shaping a future generation."

Shepard holds a PhD in social welfare from the CUNY Graduate Center and was trained at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. He has observed and participated in various social movements since the early 1990s with such groups as AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), SexPanic!, Reclaim the Streets, Times UP, the Clandestine Rebel Clown Army, the Absurd Response Team, Housing Works, the More Gardens Coalition and the Times UP Bike Lane Liberation Front as well as community gardens.

“The point of activism,” he says in the Playboy article, “is to make the conversation of democracy an interesting one.”

“Inspired by the far-out spectacle of the 1980s and 1990s queer scene,” the Playboy article explains, “Shepard has donned feather boas over skintight silver lame pants during Critical Mass bike rides and marched in illegal nighttime parades supporting gay rights.”

In his book Queer Political Performance and Protest (Routledge, 2009), Shepard told the story of the rise of the queer movement in the United States. He began writing about the AIDS crisis and published his first book, White Nights and Ascending Shadows, in 1997, and then co-edited From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization in 2002.

Shepard’s forthcoming works include: Play, Creativity, and Social Movements: If I Can’t Dance It’s Not My Revolution, the second part of his study on play, as well as The Beach Beneath the Streets: Contesting New York’s Public Spaces (co-author). Shepard also is preparing an additional volume on creativity and community building for Sage.

“I study play. So it is fun to be selected by Playboy, a publication which has always featured great articles,” explains Shepard. “I was particularly touched that the magazine both designated me a ‘street theorist’ and featured a photo of the Brooklyn waterfront near City Tech. 

“New York’s public spaces are both pulsing and in constant flux,” he adds. “Through City Tech, I enjoy a rich vantage point from which to consider the space from the street to the waterfront, between commerce and construction, at the intersection of work and play.”

10.05.10


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