Youth Politics in the Age of Mass Incarceration
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.
Heart of the City: Urban Music, Dance, & Culture
"We're gonna work on our ghettos [...] The violence, the death, the lack of education, no jobs. We're gonna work with the African-American community, and we're gonna solve the problem." These claims were made by 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump during a speech in Ohio in late October. On the other hand, some media outlets paid careful attention to the outrage that ensued following these (and similar comments. For instance, Aaron Rupar of Think Progress writes, "Trump has long been in the habit of talking about 'African American communities' and 'inner cities' as though they approximate hell on earth." On the other hand, in an effort to critique said outrage, Joel B. Pollak of Breitbart pointed to the ways in which the term has been used to discuss "urban Black life" and "inner city" by prominent Black politicians, activists, and entertainers, such as President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., and rappers like Lauryn Hill. Through Black Feminist and Urban Studies frameworks, this interdisciplinary course examines these and other debates regarding the relationships between ideas about and representations of "the city" or "the ghetto," race, class, gender,and other social, cultural, and political markers, particularly focusing on the impetuses for and implications of these ideas and representations.
People and the Environment
Class, 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.
Food, the Brain and Behavior
Are we really what we eat? We live a chemical existence. Our experiences and behavior are the result of brain activity, and the brain’s language is the language of chemistry. In this course we will explore the chemical composition of several foods and how these foods interact with the nervous system to influence brain functioning and behavior.
The “Q” and You: Using Numbers to Understand a World of Variation
Are people innately honest? Yes, 87% of people do the right thing, even when no one’s looking! Does a distinctively racial first name affect someone’s life chances? Not really, but generational poverty does. What impacts school performance for children in elementary school? Is it household income, mother’s education level, married parents, or parents that read to them? Learn how to answer questions like these in this course. This course is designed to help you see the fun in numbers, especially if you suffer from math anxiety, statistics distress, or data dread! Most social, physical, and biological processes produce numerical results that can be studied in ways that enhance our understanding and facilitate decision-making. We will explore diverse subjects and discuss the crucial role played by analytical thinking in solving challenging problems from the natural and social sciences, using a combination of logical thinking, mathematics (no calculus), computer simulation, and oral and written discussion and analysis.