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The CUNY Distance Learning Archive (CDLA) was a group project developed at The Graduate Center, CUNY to resist and trouble the discourse of catastrophe around the shift to online learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the Spring 2020 semester, we documented the experiences of students, faculty, and staff across CUNY’s 25 campuses and archived the moment of crisis response from a critical approach to educational technology.

In 2021, from the thousands of items we collected, we created three public-facing digital exhibits (hosted on the CUNY Digital History Archive), focusing on three narrative threads that highlight some challenges common across the twenty-five CUNY campuses starting in March 2020. Using different forms of data from a wide range of sources, the CDLA offers a multi-perspective narrative that includes both the institutional and the lived experiences of multiple actors occupying different positionalities and identities.

“The Shutdown: CUNY Responds to the Covid-19 Pandemic” collection documents the uncertainty of the weeks immediately preceding and following the official March shutdown of the City University of New York system.
 The “Teaching and Learning During the Time of Covid-19” collection offers an additional record or trace of the ephemeral and often unseen dimensions of CUNY’s educational landscape during the pandemic.

 The “#CutCOVIDNotCUNY” collection aims to document the fight against CUNY’s austerity politics during the COVID pandemic. 

Curatorial Team: Travis M. Bartley, Nicole Cote, Matthew K. Gold, Stefano Morello, and Zach Muhlbauer.