Fall into 2015 with Labor Studies

Posted in Labor Studies

Georgetown in Autumn

The first day of school is just around the corner, and for those of you still seeking labor studies courses to round out your schedule, you’re in luck! The following is a sampling of undergraduate courses that touch on labor and economic justice issues in line with the Kalmanovitz Initiative’s mission. Please contact us at kilwp@georgetown.edu if you have any questions or suggestions. Have a great fall semester!

African-American Studies

Race and Racism in American Culture – 28688 – AFAM 206
Professor Robert J. Patterson (MW 2:00-3:15)

The central concern of this course is to investigate how race and racism have shaped black people’s experiences living in the United States. We will examine how race and racism have been (re)presented in African American literature, film, music, political manifestos, historical texts, and other cultural media, exploring the various ways that African American cultural producers and critics have engaged with these ubiquitous phenomena. Our readings and discussions of primary and secondary texts will consider the production and mutation of race and racism across historical epochs—from slavery to the post-civil rights era. The course rejects the notion of post-racialism and considers how this discourse re-entrenches racism. Moreover, we will consider, how, if at all, conversations surrounding race might move forward, and whether racism is so intractable that efforts to eradicate it might prove futile. That is, while exploring structural, representational, and material aspects race and racism, we will keep our eyes focused on developing solutions to these problems. Of course, our energetic examinations of race and racism will take into consideration how other identities (class and gender, for example) nuance our understandings of race and racism.

Catholic Studies

Agitators, Pastors, Organizers – 28624 – CATH 113
Professor Drew Christiansen (TR 3:30-4:45)

Catholic Social Teaching is often called “The Church’s Best Kept Secret.” A set of documents laying out official Catholic teaching on economic, political and social issues, they cover issues as diverse as environmental justices, human rights, war and peace, and global human development. CST however, is only the most visible part of a complex interaction of social movements, pastoral teaching and social-pastoral action by formal church organizations and religious movements. This course will examine the interaction of the Catholic hierarchy (the Pastors) with social movements (the Agitators) and pastoral outreach (the Organizers) in the formulation and implementation of Catholic social teaching in the U.S. and in the world Church.


Disability Studies – 29120 – ENGL 270
Professor Sara Schotland (MW 9:30-10:45)

This course explores disability from an interdisciplinary perspective: literature, first-person accounts, public policy advocacy, and the basic legal framework. Texts include short stories, personal narratives by individuals who have disabilities or by their family members, and articles by disability rights activists. We integrate film study with our readings to critically examine how pop culture represents, and misrepresents, disability and bodily difference. We will watch and discuss classic film productions of “The Christmas Carol” and “The Glass Menagerie,” as well as clips from recent episodes of “Glee” and “House.” We begin the course with a cluster of related topics: What is Disability? Why do definitions matter? How is disability socially constructed? We explore challenges for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, psychiatric disorders and PTSD, deafness and/or blindness. We also consider the intersection between disability and aging, focusing on Alzheimer’s as an example. We examine the advocacy efforts by parents of children with disabilities as they seek to access resources to meet their children’s needs. We consider the difficult policy choices that arise in health care allocation, educational opportunities, and social services in view of budget constraints.


Prisons and Punishment – 27531 – GOVT 219
Professor Marc Howard (TR 11:00-12:15)

2.3 million Americans currently reside in jails and prisons, often under conditions of severe overcrowding, race-based segregation, and horrific physical and sexual violence. They are granted few (if any) educational opportunities or job training, in stark contrast to many European countries, which operate extensive rehabilitation programs that prepare inmates for their eventual release and reintegration into society. Yet even though prisoners and former prisoners (not to mention their family members) constitute a substantial portion of the American population, they are generally a powerless and forgotten group of people, with few rights or opportunities. Surprisingly, very little is known or taught about prisons and punishment—in the United States or elsewhere. This course will explore these issues in a comparative perspective. It will seek to answer the following questions: Why does the U.S. maintain an incarceration rate that is seven times higher than other democracies, even though Americans are no more likely to be the victims of crimes than are people in other societies? Why is the U.S. one of the few democratic countries to sanction the death penalty? In other words, why is the criminal justice system in this country so much more punitive than in comparable countries? This lecture course will also involve several different formats, including smaller group discussions of certain readings, the viewing of several excellent movies and documentaries that relate to prisons and punishment, and a class “field trip” to an actual prison.

Politics of Protest – 27533 – GOVT 303
Professor Caitlin Brown (TR 3:30-4:45)

In recent years, it seems that protest has become a regular feature of headline news around the world. Whether the focus of popular anger is police brutality in the United States or autocratic regimes in the Middle East, it appears that the aggrieved are increasingly turning to the same tactic of taking to the streets, and the squares, to give voice to their displeasure and demands for change. How are we to critically understand and analyze these events? Are they something new and novel, incidents of politics-not-as-normal, or do they have historical antecedents and a place within existing models of political participation and political expression? If they are of a new kind, can we build a scholarly analysis of protest-as-politics, and the politics of protest, and what tools do we need to do so? If protest is indeed evermore “important” in world events, how can we as social scientists honor its import in our study? This course is intended to examine precisely these issues, requiring students to expand their understandings of politics beyond its institutionalized, regularized forms—voting, holding office, etc.—by taking protest seriously. It places special emphasis on a comprehensive, multidimensional analysis of protest, asking students to recognize both the regularities and the nuances of what we call “protest.”

Students will seek answers to not only the “what” of protest, but also issues of who chooses to protest, why they choose to do so, when and where they do, and how they go about it. We will see that there are no single, authoritative answers to any of these questions, and as such, students will be asked to enter into a dialogue and debate with scholars considering these issues. Students will leave this course not only with a greater appreciation and understanding of the place of protest within politics, but also, as a result of their final project, a deeper knowledge and a critical, scholarly perspective of a specific incidence of protest in the real world.

Department Semimar: Children, Politics, and Public Policy – 27009 – GOVT 325
Professor William Gormley (TR 11:00-12:15)

Many scholars believe that the United States under-invests in children, as opposed to other groups in society. In the year 2010, for example, spending on children constituted approximately 9.4 percent of the federal budget. In contrast, spending on the elderly accounted for approximately 43 percent of the federal budget. One possible explanation for this is that children are poorly represented in the policymaking process, while the elderly are remarkably well represented. Yet at times significant legislation in support of children has been adopted and implemented in the U.S., at both the federal and state levels. Of course, this may become more difficult in the future, as the national debt limits the government’s capacity to launch new programs. The purpose of this course is to understand the politics of children’s policy and the difficult policy choices that we confront in such areas as child health, early childhood education, child welfare, education, and juvenile justice policy. Why do children face an uphill battle in public policy debates and what strategies and arguments enable children’s advocates to overcome these obstacles from time to time? The course is divided into three relatively equal parts. First, we focus on the politics of children’s issues. We will explore some analytical frameworks that seek to explain the policymaking process and apply them to selected children’s issues. Second, we examine evidence on the many problems that confront children and on the efficacy of proposed solutions. We will study empirical research on the causes of child poverty, child neglect, infant mortality, and other problems and on the consequences of efforts to alleviate these problems. Third, we formulate arguments in favor of particular strategies for improving children’s conditions. We will construct and evaluate normative propositions on what constitutes good public policy in this area.

Department Seminar: Classic Texts in Political Economy – 29423 – GOVT 490

Professor Shannon Stimson (MW 12:30-1:45)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to classic texts of social and political economic thought of the 18th, 19th and very early 20th centuries. The focus of the course is to consider the development in theory of both democratic and capitalist societies; to explore some of the debates and controversies to which theory and practice gave rise; and to trace the concomitant reflective adjustments in moral, social, political and economic ideas distinguishable in a number of thinkers within the period. The main project of the course is an intensive reading of several important contributors to debates surrounding the rise of market society, including Jean Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville and Karl Marx. In examining these contributors, the course will be concerned with (1) the theoretical account of the operation of the market mechanism given by the different thinkers; (2) their understanding and explanation of the social and political changes which produced and accompanied its spread; and (3) their analysis of the nature of an emerging and distinctively “modern” political and economic society.


Cold War America – 28503 – HIST 198
Professor Joseph McCartin (MW 2:00-3:15)

This course will examine the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the U.S. during the period of the Cold War, 1947-1991. It will cover such topics as anticommunism, civil rights struggle, 1960s protest movements, crisis of liberalism, rise of conservatism, impact of the Vietnam war and other foreign interventions, rise of a service economy, globalization, and demographic change.

History of the Civil Rights Movement – 28504 – HIST 199
Professor Marcia Chatelain (TR 11:00-12:15)

The Civil Rights Movement is an exploration of the key figures and moments involved in the political and social transformation known as the Civil Rights Movement. The course topic will span the period between 1954 and 1980, with an emphasis on such historic moments as the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the March on Washington, and the radicalization of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Students will read memoirs, primary documents and research on the strategies, challenges and victories of the Movement. Students will also have an opportunity to view documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement and explore Washington, D.C.’s role in freedom struggles. The course will connect how the Movement has shaped contemporary politics.

US Women’s History – 28508 – HIST 292
Professor Katie Benton-Cohen (TR 2:00-3:15)

This course explores the remarkable history of women in the United States from 1865 to the present. It explores women’s ordinary lives as well as their activism; their diversity of class, race, region, politics, and sexuality; and their social movements like suffrage and women’s liberation. With a lively mix of both primary and secondary sources, the course includes some lecture, but much discussion. We will emphasize the changing historical context of women’s lives and their commonalities and differences with women today.

Conflict and Reform: U.S. 1877-1920 – 28509 – HIST 294
Professor Michael Kazin (TR 9:30-10:45)

This course covers the tumultuous era of the Gilded Age and Progressivism, and the emergence of modernity in the United States. The course will be organized around alternating lecture and discussion, with a strong emphasis on reading primary sources. Topics will include (but not be limited to) Populism, the rise of Jim Crow, woman suffrage, industrialization and urbanization, Progressive politics and the transformation of the American West. The lives of ordinary life and the transformation of popular culture will be at the center of our inquiries. Texts will include fiction and non-fiction, primary and secondary sources.

Immigration in U.S. History – 28516 – HIST 386
Professor Katie Benton-Cohen (W 2:00-4:30)

This seminar offers a hands-on approach to US immigration history from the colonial era to the present. In addition to learning the contours of the surprising history of immigration to the United States from all corners of the world, including the impact of questions of legal status, gender, and race, students will strive to develop a sophisticated sense of the historical context of today’s immigration debates and issues. The course will require significant writing on a topic of the student’s choosing.

Justice and Peace Studies

Consumer Culture: Commodification and Dissent – 28741 – JUPS 380
Professor Kerry Danner-McDonald (MW 5:00-6:15)

This course explores consumer culture and the commodification of the environment and people in the purchasing, production, and using of basic necessities and luxury items. Using the disciplinary lenses of history, sociology, psychology, and religion, we will explore the relationship between consumer culture and quality of life. Practices of resistance to consumerism and commodification and the new economy will be covered and special attention will be given to the way religion and secular dissent itself may be commodified.

Literature, Media, and Social Change – 28742 – JUPS 403
Professor Henry Schwarz (M 12:30-3:00)

This course provides a critical introduction to the topic of Literature, Media and Social Change. It is not a summary introduction, nor a focused seminar, but rather an exploration of how intellectuals, artists and writers engineer social change. We will focus on great books and cultural events that changed the world. We will examine how these books and events precipitated actual social movements beyond the sphere of private reading. We will adopt a critical methodology derived from Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation, as practiced by Lederach, Galtung, Sharp, Boulding and others, and place that tradition in perspective with complementary social and cultural descriptions drawn from Marxism, feminism, civil rights, sexual equality and national independence. What is the role of literature in social change? How can cultural representations influence real political struggles? Beginning with the Arab Spring and “Twitter revolutions or 2011” the Occupy Movement of 2012, special focus will be on contemporary media practices and the changing face of the current media environment today. We will consider historical examples of anti-slavery, the women’s movement, and revolutionary socialism. Discussion. Independent student research will be stressed.


Ethics and Economics – 29283 – PHIL 428
Professor Wilfried Ver Eecke (TR 2:00-3:15)

This course is an effort at interdisciplinary thinking about the possible conflicting demands of efficiency and justice. In a first section we will look at the history of economic thought. We will start by studying Adam Smith’S arguments for efficiency while not overlooking Smith’s concern for the common good. Then we will read some crucial publications by neo-liberal economists who defend the role of the government so as to keep the free market efficient (anti-trust laws, banking regulations, etc.). Next we will read a couple of chapters in Marx’s Capital illustrating great injustices in the capitalist system. In a second section we consult current economic theory. We will begin by summarizing the requirements for economic efficiency, as defined by the economic profession (welfare economics). We will then present the economic argument for market failure, particularly in the case of public goods. With the concept of merit good we encounter the explicit ethical dimension in economic thought. This concept will allow us to articulate the problems of property rights, anti-trust legislation, subsidies for education and social legislation. In a third section we will look at philosophical reflections upon economics as done by either philosophers or philosophically inclined economists (e.g., Hegel, Rawls, Sen, Baier, Buchanan)The implementation of ethical principles takes place within the context of existing ethos pattern (Olson or Briefs). We will also study how religious ethics plays an important role in the implementation of social justice. In a fourth section we will look how the financial crisis of 2007/08 can be clarified by the ideas developed in the previous chapters.


Immigrants and New Societies – 29301 – SOCI 132
Professor Guillermo Cantor (R 6:30-9:00)

This course will provide a sociological understanding of the processes by which non-nationals move into and settle in a new country. In particular, we will examine some of the major questions that guide sociological analysis of migration. Some of the questions that this course will address are as follows: Why do people migrate? Are they allowed to migrate? How do immigration policies influence flows of migration? To what extent do newcomers become part of the mainstream? What kind of networks do they create? What impact do they have on the host country? How do they relate to the native population? Do they engage in the public sphere as political subjects? Immigration is a fascinating yet multi-faceted subject. Students will be introduced to various sociological approaches, as well as strategies for investigating questions around immigration. In addition, students will be exposed to contemporary issues of salient relevance from a public policy perspective. Some of the topics to be explored include social-cultural assimilation, political incorporation, and economic integration. The course will primarily focus on the U.S., although we will also examine examples from other countries.

Gentrification, Justice, and Cities – 28712 – SOCI 222
Professor Brian McCabe (M 3:30-6:00)

“The question of what kind of city we want,” writes David Harvey in Rebel Cities, “cannot be divorced from the question of what kind of people we want to be, what kinds of social relations we seek, what relations to nature we cherish, what style of life we desire, what aesthetic values we hold … The freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights. How best to exercise that right?” This seminar draws on a range of theoretical perspectives to investigate the question at the heart of David Harvey’s Rebel Cities – namely, how best to understand, evaluate and exercise the right to the city. Today, cities are increasingly contested, fragmented spaces. A legacy of racial segregation and the ghettoization of poverty pose continued challenges for American cities. The sweep of gentrification highlights the triumph of capital and the raises new questions about the rights of long-term citizens to shape their own communities. In mega-cities of the Global South, the unprecedented expansion of slums and favelas foretells an urban future unlike any we’ve seen before. Challenges brought by migration, governance and infrastructure development introduce pressing issues of social justice to the forefront in these rapidly growing cities. Across the world, new patterns of inequality, manifested both socially and spatially, raise new challenges about the future of cities in the twenty-first century. In a quest to create a more just city, this interdisciplinary seminar begins by acknowledging the triumph of the city in the twenty-first century. It argues that urbanization is among the most important social and demographic phenomena shaping our contemporary world. As David Harvey suggests, the ways that cities are shaped, patterned and contested tells us something deeply meaningful about contemporary social relations, power dynamics and political rights. The course engages arguments about the right to the city – who has the right to occupy and shape urban spaces, and how do conflicts over those rights play out in cities across the world – to animate the search for a just city. Ultimately, students will be challenged to ask what a just, equitable city would look like in the twenty-first century.


The Church and the Poor – 13432 – THEO 122
Father Raymond Kemp (TR 9:30-10:45)

This course explores the rich and varied tradition of Christian responses, over the centuries, to the perennial challenge of poverty as both an evangelical virtue and a sinful social structure. Resources include sacred Scripture, patristic teaching, official pronouncements and spiritual works, as well as the activity of religious orders and Church-related groups seeking to eradicate the causes of poverty, as well as to alleviate its symptoms. Attention will also be paid to liberation theology and current Church involvement in the struggle for social justice and integral development at local, national, and international levels.

Virtues and Social Justice – 27118 – THEO 141
Professor Kerry Danner-McDonald (MW 9:30-10:45)

How does what one notices shape what one cares about? How do courage, compassion, imagination, and humility help one to value and serve the needs of others? This course introduces a virtue approach to ethics and explores how habits, dispositions, character traits and virtues can promote or deter social justice. We will consider the intersection of the personal and political on issues including but not limited to human trafficking, public health, consumerism and the environment, and the care taking of children and the elderly. Religious resources and commitments as well as cultural and familial resources will be explored and personal discernment encouraged.