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2018 BSP Courses

Youth Politics in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Professors Manya Whitaker and Elizabeth Coggins 

Broadly speaking, youth political identities are shaped by an era of public policy focused on retribution (rather than rehabilitation).  In particular, we will research questions like:  How does youth participation vary among incarcerated youth versus youth with no experience with the judicial system?  What role does demography play in predicting youth participation? How are political identities shaped by experiences with the judicial system (whether personal of familial)?  What normative implications do  the answers to these inquiries have for American democracy?  (And many others!).  We plan to use data quite a bit in this course, helping students get comfortable with analysis and interpretation.

Public Enemy Number One: The War on Drugs Blacks & Latinos

Professors Heidi Lewis and Santiago Guerra

In June 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared a “War on Drugs,” stating that drug abuse was “public enemy number one.” Subsequently, he increased federal funding for drug-control agencies and introduced mandatory prison sentencing for drug-related crimes. More specifically, he created the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In its early stages, the DEA boasted 1,470 special agents and a budget of less than $75 million. Today, the agency has nearly 5,000 agents and a budget of $2.03 billion. Less than a decade later, President Ronald Reagan reinforced and expanded many of Nixon’s policies. For example, in 1984, First Lady Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” campaign, which claimed to educate children about the dangerous implications of drug use; and in 1986, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which established mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug offenses. These efforts have been heavily criticized along the lines of racism, because, as Steven W. Thrasher notes, “Drugs have long been used to scapegoat Black and Latino people, even as study after study finds that white youth use drugs more than their non-white peers and white people are the more likely to have contraband on them when stopped by police.” Despite this, U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III recently expressed a desire to “bring back” the “war on drugs.” Hence, through various interdisciplinary frameworks—such as Black Feminist Studies, Anthropology, Critical Race Feminism, Borderlands Studies, Critical Media Studies, and Latinx Studies—this course examines these and other debates regarding drug trafficking and abuse in the U.S. and Mexico, especially concerning race, class, gender, and other social, cultural, and political markers and particularly considering the escalation of the drug war in the post 9/11 climate of national securitization.   

People and the Environment

Professor Jean Lee and Dr. Paul Buckley

LeeBuckleyClassBSPClass, race, and gender are contested issues in the United States and abroad.  This course explores environmental issues through the lens of gender, race, and class.  Beginning with an interrogation of the social construct of race and the intersectionality of gender and class with environmental concerns, we will examine topics such as water supply, food security, and toxic waste in various communities.  These case studies will highlight how discrimination is reflected in the ways that environmental issues are conceptualized and pursued.  Students will be asked to keep informal journals and submit written reflection logs.  Additionally, students will have opportunity to strengthen oral communication skills through classroom discussion and oral presentations.

Title TBD: Topic on Inclusion and Education

Professor Tina Valtierra and Dr. Drew Cavin 


The “Q” and You: Using Numbers to Understand a World of Variation

Professor Emily Chan and Dr. Steve Getty

What characterizes you and your generation, Gen Z, at Colorado College or elsewhere? Do specific factors indicate what you might study or where you go to school? Are there social, emotional, or geographic factors that connect to personal well-being or success? You or your peers in Gen Z?

Learn how to use numbers to explore questions like these in this course, which is designed to help you see both the fun and power in numbers, particularly if you think you have math anxiety, statistics stress, or data dread. Most social, psychological, and biological processes yield numerical information that can be studied in ways that enhance our understanding. We will explore diverse subjects related to the questions above, and discuss the vital role of analytical thinking in problem solving from the natural and social sciences, using a combination of logical thinking, mathematics (no calculus), computer simulation, and oral and written discussion and analysis.

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