Fall into the New School Year with Labor-Related Courses!

Posted in Labor Studies

Georgetown in Autumn

The first day of school is just around the corner, and for those of you still seeking 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!


Poverty – 26987 – ECON 156
Professor Martin Ravallion (TR 12:30-1:45)

The course will provide a thorough introduction to economic thinking on poverty in the world and the policies used to fight poverty, from early times to the present day, spanning both developed and developing countries. Students will learn about many key ideas of economic and philosophical thought—through the lens of understanding poverty, and they will learn how those ideas are put into practice. No prior knowledge of economics will be assumed, and students can come from any academic field. While economics is important to understanding and fighting poverty, the course will also draw insights from many other fields, including philosophy, the social and political sciences, statistics, health, nutrition science and education.

Labor Economics – 26120 – ECON 481
Professor Eric Gould (M 3:30-6:00)

This course will examine the main theoretical and empirical issues regarding how labor markets work. The material will cover standard topics such as labor demand, the decision to work, human capital, discrimination, migration, unions, wage setting practices within a firm, and unemployment. The course will also examine how human capital and labor market outcomes interact with marriage, divorce, fertility, and crime. An emphasis will be placed on the dramatic changes in the wage and employment structure of the labor market over the last four decades. Empirical techniques will be covered to enable students to evaluate and conduct an empirical analysis.

Education, Inquiry, and Justice

Philosophy of Education – 25776 – EDIJ 156
Professor Sabrina Wesley-Nero (MW 3:30-4:45)

This course offers students the opportunity to interrogate foundational and contemporary philosophies of education and current educational practices. In this course students will examine perennial philosophical questions and grapple with the philosophical underpinnings and assumptions of current education policies and practices. Central questions include: What is the purpose of education? Who should be educated? What should be taught? This course provides a solid foundation for students to critically examine contemporary education issues.


Contemporary African-American Literature – 27836 – ENGL 204
Professor Robert Patterson (MW 2:00-3:15)

Throughout the past forty years, African American writers have used their literary works to think about the modern Civil Rights Movement. Although historians often argue that the Civil Rights era began in 1953 and ended in 1968, feminist historian Jacqueline Dowd recently has encouraged civil rights era scholars to consider the “long” civil rights movement. By expanding the time period that we use to classify the Civil Rights era, we might think about several issues related to that time period in more nuanced ways. If, for example, we consider the labor movements of the 1930 as part of the Civil Rights Movement, our understanding of gender and leadership during the Movement in the 1950s might be enhanced.

In this course, we will undertake Dowd’s challenge, examining how African American literature produced since the mid 1960s assists us in this process of “revisionary historiography” about the Civil Rights Movement and even the Black Power Movement. As we examine the historical period and literary texts, issues of leadership, activism, gender, and periodization will inform our analyses. Moreover, we will interrogate the definition of civil rights, including the historicity of this phrase as it specifically relates to African Americans’ quests for political, economic, and cultural enfranchisement in the United States. Alongside this concern, we will consider how feminist, black feminist, and gay rights movements have appropriated rhetoric and tropes of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as how those movements in turn have re-shaped our understanding or the gender and sexual politics of the Civil Rights Movement.

Question of Equality – 26822 – ENGL 262
Professor Samantha Pinto (W 2:00-4:30)

“Equality,” is, in many ways, the cornerstone of modern conceptions of society, government, and global human rights. Since the Enlightenment, it has been the express concern of the “Western” world. But it is also, historically and culturally, controversial: What does “equality” mean across historical, national, and religious borders? This course will trace the European and US philosophical traditions of equality alongside cross-cultural conceptions and critiques of the term, particularly those produced by African authors and artists. In doing so, it hopes to unsettle easy assumptions about the term’s meaning, and to bridge American ideals of equality to a global understanding of the term. This interdisciplinary seminar will include a required field trip to Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, as well as to other DC area cultural sites.

Literature and Journalism: DC – 27322 – ENGL 299
Professors Maureen Corrigan and Barbara Feinman Todd (TR 11:00-12:15)

Washington, D.C., the nation’s center of politics and government, attracts many of the best and the brightest, people who come here for a time to “brand” themselves through press conferences, photo ops and tweets that demonstrate proximity to power. But it is also a place where real people live, as did their forebears, and where history’s ghosts dwell. This course explores how some of the premier writers and journalists of the last 150 years have read the capital city. Why do novelists, poets and filmmakers portray Washington the way they do? It is a place that engenders fiction that masquerades as non-fiction and vice versa. Roman a clefs and anonymous sources abound. Do journalists in this town approach the exercise of power – played out in the corridors and back rooms of deal making – fundamentally differently than novelists? What is it about this city that lends itself more readily to being immortalized by journalists than novelists and poets? How is Washington politics and the powerbrokers who practice it represented in literature and journalism? How are the butlers, the nannies, the refugees, the undocumented, the ghostwriters, the maître d’s, the body men, the interns – those behind the scenes and on the margins – used in literature and journalism to tell stories? How is Washington as a character itself portrayed in these various genres?

Class Fictions in the Contemporary US – 26838 – ENGL 431 – 01
Professor Pamela Fox (TF 12:30-1:45)

Over the past 5-6 years, “economic inequality” has become a familiar term adopted by media pundits, academics, politicians, and activists to encompass the devastating consequences of the most recent U.S. economic recession as well as unions’ loss of power, crumbling public school systems, and the proliferation of hungry, homeless families (to name but a few). We rarely hear directly from those with the least power; more typically, we encounter a kaleidoscope of images, voices, stories—and ideologies to match—circulated by a wide variety of popular cultural as well as ‘elite’ texts hoping to make that population visible. This interdisciplinary course provides critical/theoretical tools for navigating such representations but also expands the terrain by featuring writers/musical artists/filmmakers who claim membership in “low” classes and cultures. It provides a recent historical context—from the 1990s to the present—to demonstrate how class differences and conflicts have helped share our current U.S. economic, legal, and social structures as well as to emphasize that “class” itself is a complex and shifting identity category experienced in tandem with other identity markers and positionalities such as race, gender, and sexuality. We’ll focus on exploring how particular cultural forms and genres, such as literature, cinema, popular music, and memoir, may limit or expand an audience’s grasp of, engagement with, and resistance to, class categories. We’ll also take up a broad spectrum of issues, including theories of working-class identity, social/cultural resistance, and the notion of representation itself.


Prisons and Punishment – 27531 – GOVT 219
Professor Marc Howard (TR 9:30-10:45)

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.

Department Seminar: Poverty and the World Economy – 27013 – GOVT 362
Professor Nina Rudra (T 12:30-3:00)

This course evaluates the prevalence of widespread poverty in the global economy and uses tools from political economy to explore why it continues to plague so many countries throughout the world. The emphasis is on the kinds of questions scholars and practitioners ask about poverty and development and how they have attempted to answer them. Issues of poverty are analyzed as both internal and external political, economic, and social phenomena. The readings cover many of the classic texts in the field, policy- related issues, debates on North-South relations, and case material on Latin America, Africa, East Asia, and South Asia. Students will be encouraged to think critically about issues of poverty and evaluate the merits of different strategies intended to alleviate it.


History in Focus: Great Depression – 24990 – HIST 099
Professor Joseph McCartin (TR 11:00-11:50 plus discussion)

This is a course that introduces students to the art of historical interpretation by looking at the Great Depression from many angles: social, economic, political, cultural. It provides an opportunity for students to use many different kinds of sources to understand the Depression: literature, film, oral history, government documents, newspapers, and more.

African-American Women’s History – 27311 – HIST 285
Professor Marcia Chatelain (TR 11:00-12:15)

This advanced undergraduate course examines African-American women in the U.S., with an emphasis on social activism, politics, and cultural production. This course will use first-hand narratives as well as monographs to provide an overview of African-American women’s lives from slavery to the contemporary period. Through writing assignments, students will have an opportunity to strengthen their expository writing, as well as their primary and secondary research skills.

U.S. in the 1960’s – 27261 – HIST 299
Professor Michael Kazin (TR 9:30-10:45)

This course seeks to understand key themes and events in one of the more turbulent periods in modern American history. Topics will include (but not be limited to) the decline of industrial cities, the rise of the black freedom movement (both North and South), military intervention in Indochina and the movement opposing it, the significance of rock and roll and soul music, the New Left, the beginnings of movements for feminism and gay rights and environmental protection, the emergency of a powerful New Right, and the international context in which the American “60s” occurred.

Women and Mexican Immigration – 27266 – HIST 353
Professor Larisa Lopez Veloz (R 11:00-1:30)

Women and children have become increasingly central figures in debates about Mexican immigration to the United States. Deportation policies, in particular, and immigration legislation in general, have recently come under fire regarding long-term effects on family reunification efforts, labor policies, and border militarization. This course will examine the history of Mexican migration with particular attention to the women migrants and families that have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, and thus provide context for the gendered immigration policies that have impacted millions of Mexican men and women over the last century. Readings for the course will focus on the intersection of labor, family life, and social networks to highlight female migrant experiences, how they have historically contrasted with male experiences, and how patterns of migration have changed over time. Female migrants have been central to the establishment and growth of Mexican and Mexican-American communities in the United States, and yet the histories of women migrants and gendered migrations have often been relegated to the periphery of more nationally centered histories.

Topics in US History: Unfree Labor in the US after 1865 – 25556 – HIST 382
Professor James Benton (TR 2:00-3:15)

The Thirteenth Amendment, ratified after the end of the Civil War, ended slavery in the United States. Or… did it? This course will examine forms of coercive labor practices that have existed in American society over the past century and a half. Starting with a summary of the institution of late antebellum slavery in the U.S., students will examine varieties of unfree labor to the present, looking for similarities and differences among groups such as farmers, prisoners, domestics, and sex workers. We will also delve into the record of American government and jurisprudence in its efforts to protect workers from these abuses. The course will conclude with testimonies from contemporary workers who encounter labor abuses on the job. Students will be expected to develop and present critical arguments about the presence of unfree labor after 1865 and its relation to the term of “modern-day slavery.” Among the points we will critique is whether slavery exists in the U.S. in the early twenty-first century; and if so, whether the term “modern-day slavery” or is best applicable in describing forms of unfree labor in contemporary U.S. society.

The Automobile in US History – 27276 – HIST 496
Professor Patrick Dixon (R 2:00-4:30)

In the twentieth century the automobile captured the imagination of millions of Americans with its promise of boundless opportunities and possibilities. Where people had previously been bound by the limits of railroad tracks, waterways, or even horse-drawn carriages, the democratic and affordable automobile allowed its driver to speedily move human and materiel to every far-flung corner of the continent in a vehicle that could be expressive of both aspirations and personality. For every strain of class or sub-culture this most archetypal of mass-produced products could be designed, modified, and individualized for its user. The automobile and cinema developed side by side one another and the connections between the two are countless. This course will employ film, art, popular music, and first-hand accounts to explore the way Americans came to understand the significance of automobile production, ownership, and use. It will examine the evolution of the auto industry and the meanings of cars and car culture in American life through changing historical circumstances. At the same time it will assess how the automobile came to define not only lifestyles but the ongoing construction of the United States, and how the rise and decline of great car companies came to be paradigmatic of the plight of American industry.

Justice and Peace Studies

CBL: Immigration and Social Justice – 27211 – JUPS 410
Professor Diana Guelespe (TR 5:00-6:15)

This course will examine the history, policies, and social forces that have shaped migration to the United States, focusing in particular on the post-1960s period. We will discuss global patterns of movement, migrants’ rights, and the sociopolitical and economic factors that contribute to the movement of people. We will review the history of U.S. immigration policy, responses to past and current waves of migration, and immigrant integration. Given the contentiousness of the issue of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., we will focus on understanding the social and legal construction of one’s immigration status, federal and local efforts to control unauthorized migration, and the immigration reform debate.

The second half of the course will be spent exploring the life experiences of undocumented immigrants in the areas of education, health, housing, and employment. We will also discuss the DC-immigrant community, including the challenges they face and efforts to assist them by faith-based and community-based organizations. Class discussions will be based on guest speaker presentations, documentary films, and assigned readings, including books, research articles, reports, ethnographies, and testimonies.


Immigrants and New Societies – 24475 – 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?

Global Power Elites – 26695 – SOCI 157
Professor Peter Cookson (TR 8:00-9:15 AM)

Today global power is exercised by political and economic elites networked together through institutions and interpersonal relationships. Many members of the new power elite are wealthy: the public policy think tank, Oxfam, recently published a report featuring an astounding statistic – 85 billionaires worldwide have as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity. This fact, however, should not blind us to the complex relationship between wealth and power because power is never absolute, but, as history shows us, consistently questioned and challenged by the powerless and those eager for reform. In today’s complex and fast moving social and economic global environment, power is not one directional; grassroots movement and democratic institutions are developing throughout the world, challenging the status quo and calling into question institutional arrangements that reinforce the concentration of power. In this class, we explore questions about the causes and consequences of concentrated power globally and the resistance to it.

CBL: Global Inequalities/Social Justice – 27349 – SOCI 220
Professor Becky Hsu (R 11:00-1:30)

Global inequalities refer to the systematic differences in the distribution of socially valued attributes such as education, income, information, health, and influence between people living in different areas of the globe. We will begin by discussing the systemic causes of global inequalities. Then, for the bulk of the course, we will read on topics centered on manifestations of inequality and approaches to addressing them: modern slavery, health disparities, sex trafficking, labor and sweatshops, poverty, human rights, and disaster relief. Our readings will be about what it feels like to experience these inequalities as well as analyses of current efforts to alleviate the inequalities. At the same time, each student will be interning at an organization seeking to address global inequalities.

CBL: DC: Neighborhoods, Poverty, and Inequality – 23448 – SOCI 221
Professor Bryan McCabe (MW 3:30-4:45)

Are homeowners more involved in their communities than renters? Does performance on standardized exams vary according to classroom size? When college sports teams are winning, do college students study less? Do foreclosures increase crime in Washington, DC neighborhoods? How have attitudes towards abortion changed in the United States over the past two decades? What impact does a criminal record have on job opportunities? To answer these – and countless other – research questions, social scientists turn to a set of research tools know as statistics. Statistics refers to the tools and procedures social researchers use to collect, measure, describe and analyze quantitative data. These tools help researchers to understand whether variables in the world are related to each other. They also enable researchers make predictions about the future and to identify causal relationships in the social world. This course introduces students to a range of topics in statistical analysis, including collecting and describing data; creating graphical displays of quantitative information; identifying relationships among variables; and testing research hypotheses. By the end of the course, students will develop a toolbox of statistical procedures to investigate the social world. They will gain familiarity with actual social science datasets used to analyze trends in social attitudes and behaviors. In addition to developing skills as social researchers, students will become critical consumers of quantitative data, thinking seriously about the way quantitative information is analyzed and presented in their everyday lives.


Latino Church Doing Justice – 13428 – THEO 096
Father Charles Gonzalez (WF 12:30-1:45)

A study of and a reflection on major influences – cultural, socio-economic, racial, spiritual, theological – which shape the Latino Church in the United States today and which will affect its future identities and roles in this country. Analysis of personal stories combined with related readings and written student reflections will be our approach. A weekend visit to Camden, New Jersey, one of “America’s most dangerous cities,” will be available to interested students.

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.

Faith, Social Justice, and Public Life – 27678 – THEO 283
Reverend Jim Wallis (T 2:00-4:30)

How does faith inform public debates on social justice in American politics? How should religious leaders and politicians engage the political process while maintaining their moral witness? This course, taught by Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, will address the intersection of religion, society, and politics in the United States, across a series of critical issue areas. Topics to be addressed include poverty, education, healthcare, race, and gender. Frequent guest presentations will expose students to practitioner’s perspectives on these and other issues.