SCPS Faculty Spotlight: Gabriel Cohen

Courtesy of Gabriel Cohen

For the month of August we are spotlighting esteemed Pratt faculty member, Gabriel Cohen, who teaches undergraduate and continuing education courses at Pratt Institute. This upcoming fall semester, Pratt’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) launched the Writers Workspace. A new program geared towards students and creative professionals interested in growing and further developing their writing practice. Beginning on October 2nd, Gabriel will be teaching, 1st Chapters: Start Your Novel, a 10 week course that will focus on guiding and preparing budding novelists in taking the first steps towards composing a novel. It will also be useful for writers who may have written some previous drafts.

As a longtime Pratt faculty member, Gabriel Cohen brings with him an extensive and impressive professional and educational resume. He is the author of a literary novel, four crime novels, and a nonfiction book, and was a finalist for an Edgar award. He has written essays for the New York Times, Poets & Writers, and TimeOut New York just to name a few. He is also in his tenth year at Pratt Institute and has previously taught writing at New York University, the Center for Fiction, and Long Island University. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Gabriel Cohen about his life and career. Tune in below to hear all about his  background in the creative world, his literary accomplishments and his approach to teaching as an educator.

Pratt SCPS: What motivated you to pursue a career in the creative world?

Gabriel Cohen: I grew up in a family of writers, painters, and filmmakers, so I was exposed to the creative process very early. I studied English in college, then went on to a stint as a musician and songwriter, and did freelance journalism for a weekly newspaper. I shifted to writing mostly novels because I find it enormously satisfying to imagine characters, places, and stories, and then use craft to make them come alive for readers. I love how both fiction and nonfiction promote a deeper engagement with the world and with other human beings. (I especially love researching and writing about New York.)

Pratt SCPS: What would you say has been your greatest professional achievements so far?

Gabriel Cohen: I was excited to write features about this city for the New York Times, including articles about con artists who actually “sold” the Brooklyn Bridge, and about the brash Comments sections on neighborhood blogs. And I was proud to publish five novels, but an especially satisfying aspect of my career was publishing a nonfiction book about how to survive divorce, and then getting letters from total strangers around the world who said that it helped them get through tough times.

Courtesy of David Iskander

Pratt SCPS: When did your Pratt journey begin and what has it been like?

Gabriel Cohen: I am beginning my tenth year of teaching at Pratt. I have enjoyed helping Writing Program students improve their craft, introducing freshman students to nonfiction through explorations of New York City*, and learning about design myself when I teach thesis writing to graduate Design students.

*For example, I take them on a field trip to write about the Fulton Mall. I ask them if they could write about the city if they were deaf and blind, and then I read them an amazing essay by Helen Keller in which she did just that.

Pratt SCPS: What has been the most important lesson for you as an educator in this field?

Gabriel Cohen: I believe that as a professor I have a responsibility to always keep working on learning about education and improving my teaching technique. It doesn’t matter how good a writer someone might be if they can’t help students learn the craft. I started a program at Pratt to enable teachers to get together for informal meetings to share tips about how we can improve as educators.

I teach that writing is an act of communication as well as self-expression, and that as writers we have to learn craft in order to be able to provide vivid, engrossing experiences for readers.

Pratt SCPS: What upcoming courses will you be teaching at Pratt?

Gabriel Cohen: I’ll be teaching a freshman Studio writing course and a novel-writing course for undergraduates, as well as this adult course for the School of Continuing and Professional studies.

If you’re interested in learning more about Gabriel Cohen’s upcoming course at Pratt’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies visit the main website. Make sure to  subscribe to our blog stay up to date on all of the upcoming features!


The Student Leadership Team behind the PreCollege Summer Program

(from left back row, Sam, Madison, Veronica, from left front row, Janelle, Eva, Laura, Moby & Urva) – Courtesy of Sam Stuart

The PreCollege Summer Program wrapped up a few weeks ago, however it would not have been a resounding success without the dedication and hard work of this summer’s Pratt PreCollege staff and leadership team. The Pratt PreCollege Summer Program is a month long academic program geared to high schools. It’s a wonderful opportunity for close to 400 students to explore  their interests in art and design and to get a glimpse into what the college experience is really like. At the conclusion of the program students receive elective college credits and have the honor of showcasing all of their hard work in a Final Exhibition. In recognition of the successful end to another exceptional PreCollege Summer Program, we’ve chosen to spotlight the amazing contributions made by the Pratt PreCollege leadership team this summer.

The leadership team was comprised of eight current Pratt Institute students. Each team leader had an extremely active role in all facets of this summer’s program. As a group, the leaders were responsible for their individual roles and duties which included student advisement, coordinating operations, field trips, cultural excursions and additional activities, as well as overseeing the mentors. There were over 30 student mentors this summer all of whom are Pratt Institute students. Who better than Pratt students to mentor, guide and advise PreCollege students about the Pratt experience. Being a part of the PreCollege Summer Program is an experience like no other. Current Pratt students are able to gain highly useful skills that will guide them in both their academic and professional careers.

In recognition of their invaluable contributions to the success of this summer’s PreCollege Program, we’d like to introduce you to the dream team that helped to make this summer’s program a truly exceptional and memorable experience for our PreCollege high school students. Meet Eva, Veronica, Urva, Samuel, Madison, Moby, Janelle and Laura, the Pratt students who helped to coordinate  and oversee various aspects of both the academic and activity related components of this summer’s program. This leadership team had an integral role in making sure all facets of the PreCollege Summer Program came together seamlessly and provided invaluable support to the PreCollege Office staff.

Courtesy of Sam Stuart

Here’s a quick breakdown of each other the leadership team members and their individual roles this summer. For this summer’s PreCollege program, the leadership team was divided into two additional teams within the main team that would be responsible for specific aspects of the program.  The subdivisions were categorized into areas of focus: academics and activities. Team leaders that were a part of the academic team were responsible for coordinating the academic side of the PreCollege program which included student advisement, studio operations, faculty and student support in the classroom and studio space, and assigning mentors to groups of PreCollege students based on their art and design concentrations groups.

The  academic team leaders were the following Pratt students: Veronica, (Grad student, Art Therapy & Creativity Development), Urva (Grad student, Communication Design), Samuel (Senior, Photography Major) and Eva (Sophomore, COMD Graphic Design). Eva a sophomore in the COMD Graphic Design Program was the Design & Operations Coordinator in the PreCollege Summer Program. Her responsibilities included providing design support to the PreCollege office and in addition to this coordinating various operations and working with other team leaders to insure that all aspects of the program ran effectively on a daily basis.

Also providing operational support in this summer’s program was Samuel, a senior in the Photography program. Samuel’s role this summer was being the Studio Mentor Coordinator. Throughout the summer program the PreCollege students would be immersed in a full day of course work and in the evenings they would attend studio space sessions where they had the opportunity to continue to work on art and design projects. As the Studio Mentor Coordinator, it was Samuel responsibility to coordinate which mentors would be assigned to oversee and lead specific studio space sessions based on subject concentrations.

Courtesy of Pratt PreCollege

One important facet of the PreCollege Summer program is ensuring that all of the students have adequate support and resources. Occasionally students requested or needed advisement for a variety of reasons and two of the members of the PreCollege leadership team were responsible for connecting students with the appropriate on campus resources in order to ensure they received advisement and support were Veronica and Urva. Veronica,  a graduate student in the Art Therapy & Creativity Development Master’s program, and Urva a graduate student in the Graduate Communication Design program, both had the role of being Graduate  Assistant Student Advisers. Their contributions to this program included being a resource for students  needing advisement, faculty, coordinating and managing mentors, and providing support to their other team members.

The leadership team members that were a part of the activities team this summer included the following Pratt students:  Madison (Undergraduate student) Laura (Senior, Art History Major), Janelle (Senior, 2D Animation Major), Moby (Senior, 2D Animation Major). Each of these team members were responsible for coordinating the field trips, cultural excursions and additional activities for this summer’s program. They also coordinated and managed the mentors assigned to each field trip and excursion and provided additional support to both PreCollege office, faculty and students.

Laura, a senior in the Art History program and Madison an undergraduate student, were the Art, History and Culture coordinators in the program this summer. They were responsible for coordinating the cultural excursions and assigned mentors to guide PreCollege students during on campus and off campus museum trips which included visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Guggenheim.  Janelle and Moby, both seniors in the 2D Animation program, were the Activities Coordinators this summer.  They helped to support this summer’s program through scheduling and coordinating field trips and weekend activities which include trips to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Governors Island.

Courtesy of Pratt PreCollege

Although this summer’s program has come to a conclusion, the contributions of each of the Pratt student leadership team members was essential to ensuring that the PreCollege students had a rewarding experience in the program. These leadership team members not only contributed a great deal through their hard work and dedication, but they were able to gain invaluable organizational, interpersonal and teamwork skills that they will be able apply to both their academic and professional careers.

To learn more about the Pratt PreCollege Program  visit our website. To stay up to date on the latest student features from  DESIGNTERRA make sure to subscribe. Don’t forget to follow Pratt PreCollege on social media: Facebook, Instagram.