Noah Shuster

Undergraduate Discipline


BA, Binghamton University. PhD, New School for Social Research. Taught English and political science at the New School and several CUNY campuses, particularly Brooklyn College (2013-). Shuster has taught about US social-movement history, criminal justice/pre-law, labor history, and current New York City. His research has focused on ethnographic understandings of retail workers, particularly their daily practices of resistance and desertion. His future research is planned around qualitative understandings of precarious workers and social-movement history. SLC, 2023-

Undergraduate Courses 2023-2024


The US Workers’ Movement: From Colonial Slavery to Economic Globalization (Labor Economics)

Open, Seminar—Year

In this yearlong seminar course, we will explore the history of the US labor movement from its beginnings in 1600s colonial society to the “globalized” cities of the 2020s. Beginning with the involuntary labor arrangements that structured the continent's economy from the 1600s to the Civil War, we will focus on the international workers' movement against slavery: abolitionism. The abolitionist struggle will take us from the first rebellions of involuntary workers to the Civil War and the Reconstruction era. From there, we will consider the strikes, uprisings, and organizations of the late 19th- and 20th-century industrial labor movement, beginning with the Great Upheaval of 1877 and ending with the postindustrial urban uprisings of 1967. We will consider the peak of “big labor” during the mid-20th century, alongside the peak in Cold War era US imperialism that structured the economy during that time. We will begin the spring semester by thoroughly considering the major structural shifts in the US economy that began in the 1970s, generally referred to as a combination of “globalization” and “neoliberalism.” These shifts degraded job quality and worker power, relegating the working class to service positions in the “global city” structure. In responding to these shifts, we will consider numerous autonomous unions and “worker centers” that have sprung up to address the new issues of this new economy in the past 20 years. We will also focus on broader 21st-century people's struggles—like the Anti-Globalization Movement, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter—and how these movements relate to the ongoing workers' movement. Requirements for the course include discussion posts, short papers, and a group presentation. For the course’s major project, students will have two options. The first is writing two connected final essays, one for each semester. The second is engaging in a yearlong research project, which can be focused on service learning and in-the-field placements with local worker centers and unions, if students wish. Students will meet with the instructor every other week for individual conferences, depending on the student's needs and the progress of their conference projects. Required texts may include: Strike! by Jeremy Brecher, The Many-Headed Hydra by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, An African-American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz, The Global City by Saskia Sassen, New Labor in New York by Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott, and Labor Law for the Rank and Filer by Staughton Lynd and Daniel Gross.