Sean Thomas-Breitfeld

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service

Sean Thomas-Breitfeld is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and co-directs the Building Movement Project, with a special focus on BMP’s work on service and social change.

Prior to joining the BMP staff, Thomas-Breitfeld spent a decade working in various roles at the Center for Community Change. At CCC, he developed training programs for grassroots leaders, worked in communications and policy departments where he coordinated online and grassroots advocacy efforts, and lobbied on a range of issues, including immigration reform, transportation equity and anti-poverty programs. Before joining the Center, Thomas-Breitfeld worked as a Policy Analyst at the National Council of La Raza, where he focused on employment and income security issues.

Thomas-Breitfeld received a B.A. in Social Work and Multicultural Studies from St. Olaf College and an M.P.A. from NYU Wagner.

This course brings together a wide range of thinking and scholarship about race and identity to encourage learning about what race is, why it matters, and racial dynamics in organizations and how best to address them. (In this description, “race” is used as a shorthand for the interconnected complex of race, ethnicity, culture and color, understanding that we will be careful to distinguish among them in the course itself.) While recognizing the importance of intersectionality and other markers of difference such as gender and class, the course focuses on race for two reasons: 1) it is generally the most charged dimension of diversity in the United States, the most difficult to discuss and, therefore, the topic we most often avoid, and 2) it has the greatest impact on life chances and opportunities: race is often the best predictor of income, wealth, education, health, employment and other important measures of well-being. Because the impact of race is highly contextual, we will focus on the United States, although our lens will broaden at different points. The course will roughly divide into two parts. The first part will address the phenomenon of race more broadly, while the second half will look more closely at organizations. It will begin with theoretical understandings of what race is and how it is distinguished from ethnicity, culture and color. Then we will explore the dynamics of racism, discrimination and stereotypes, followed by research on the impact of race on individuals and groups. The intricate connections to gender and class will be our next topics. In the second half, we will address how race influences, and is influenced by, organizational dynamics. This will include classes on discrimination and racism in organizations, traditional approaches to “managing” diversity, alternative approaches that emphasize self-awareness, learning and mutuality, and particular concerns related to public service contexts like health care and philanthropy.

Download Syllabus

This course brings together a wide range of thinking and scholarship about race and identity to encourage learning about what race is, why it matters, and racial dynamics in organizations and how best to address them. (In this description, “race” is used as a shorthand for the interconnected complex of race, ethnicity, culture and color, understanding that we will be careful to distinguish among them in the course itself.) While recognizing the importance of intersectionality and other markers of difference such as gender and class, the course focuses on race for two reasons: 1) it is generally the most charged dimension of diversity in the United States, the most difficult to discuss and, therefore, the topic we most often avoid, and 2) it has the greatest impact on life chances and opportunities: race is often the best predictor of income, wealth, education, health, employment and other important measures of well-being. Because the impact of race is highly contextual, we will focus on the United States, although our lens will broaden at different points. The course will roughly divide into two parts. The first part will address the phenomenon of race more broadly, while the second half will look more closely at organizations. It will begin with theoretical understandings of what race is and how it is distinguished from ethnicity, culture and color. Then we will explore the dynamics of racism, discrimination and stereotypes, followed by research on the impact of race on individuals and groups. The intricate connections to gender and class will be our next topics. In the second half, we will address how race influences, and is influenced by, organizational dynamics. This will include classes on discrimination and racism in organizations, traditional approaches to “managing” diversity, alternative approaches that emphasize self-awareness, learning and mutuality, and particular concerns related to public service contexts like health care and philanthropy.

Download Syllabus

This course brings together a wide range of thinking and scholarship about race and identity to encourage learning about what race is, why it matters, and racial dynamics in organizations and how best to address them. (In this description, “race” is used as a shorthand for the interconnected complex of race, ethnicity, culture and color, understanding that we will be careful to distinguish among them in the course itself.) While recognizing the importance of intersectionality and other markers of difference such as gender and class, the course focuses on race for two reasons: 1) it is generally the most charged dimension of diversity in the United States, the most difficult to discuss and, therefore, the topic we most often avoid, and 2) it has the greatest impact on life chances and opportunities: race is often the best predictor of income, wealth, education, health, employment and other important measures of well-being. Because the impact of race is highly contextual, we will focus on the United States, although our lens will broaden at different points. The course will roughly divide into two parts. The first part will address the phenomenon of race more broadly, while the second half will look more closely at organizations. It will begin with theoretical understandings of what race is and how it is distinguished from ethnicity, culture and color. Then we will explore the dynamics of racism, discrimination and stereotypes, followed by research on the impact of race on individuals and groups. The intricate connections to gender and class will be our next topics. In the second half, we will address how race influences, and is influenced by, organizational dynamics. This will include classes on discrimination and racism in organizations, traditional approaches to “managing” diversity, alternative approaches that emphasize self-awareness, learning and mutuality, and particular concerns related to public service contexts like health care and philanthropy.

Download Syllabus

This course brings together a wide range of thinking and scholarship about race and identity to encourage learning about what race is, why it matters, and racial dynamics in organizations and how best to address them. (In this description, “race” is used as a shorthand for the interconnected complex of race, ethnicity, culture and color, understanding that we will be careful to distinguish among them in the course itself.) While recognizing the importance of intersectionality and other markers of difference such as gender and class, the course focuses on race for two reasons: 1) it is generally the most charged dimension of diversity in the United States, the most difficult to discuss and, therefore, the topic we most often avoid, and 2) it has the greatest impact on life chances and opportunities: race is often the best predictor of income, wealth, education, health, employment and other important measures of well-being. Because the impact of race is highly contextual, we will focus on the United States, although our lens will broaden at different points. The course will roughly divide into two parts. The first part will address the phenomenon of race more broadly, while the second half will look more closely at organizations. It will begin with theoretical understandings of what race is and how it is distinguished from ethnicity, culture and color. Then we will explore the dynamics of racism, discrimination and stereotypes, followed by research on the impact of race on individuals and groups. The intricate connections to gender and class will be our next topics. In the second half, we will address how race influences, and is influenced by, organizational dynamics. This will include classes on discrimination and racism in organizations, traditional approaches to “managing” diversity, alternative approaches that emphasize self-awareness, learning and mutuality, and particular concerns related to public service contexts like health care and philanthropy.

Download Syllabus