One of the greatest parts about attending Georgetown University is the abundance of undergraduate courses that engage social justice, including labor and worker rights! To make course selection easier, we’ve compiled a list of such classes here. Please contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions or suggestions.
This course explores contemporary representations of love and marriage in African American culture, as well as contextualizes the transformations that the institutions of love and marriage have undergone throughout history. We will engage a variety of texts—including literature, music, films, sermons, and magazine articles, to theorize how these different media construct the institutions of “love” and “marriage.” We will explore the continuities, fissures, and contradictions that we find within and between the media, and will use the methodologies and analytical tools that literary and cultural studies, sociology, history, gender and sexuality studies, and African American Studies have made available for analyzing texts and cultures.
Prof. Soyica Diggs Colbert | MW 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
This course examines how historical contexts and political movements inform writing black lives. We will examine how biographers know the “truth” of one’s own, or another’s life, and how to tell the truth in a form that is compelling and clear. What archives to biographers draw from in order to tell their stories? Do the archives of African Americans differ from Americans in general? What styes of storytelling are the most compelling for the given content? How do biographers account for audience in the stories that they tell? Students will read biographies, autobiographies, essays, and a graphic novel and watch biopics. They will be required to write different portions of biographic texts, including early memories, historical contexts, important life events, and descriptions of personal relationships. We will engage with biographical texts about Malcolm X, Audre Lorde, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Nina Simone, John Lewis, Ella Baker, Angela Davis, and O.J. Simpson.
The American Studies Program will host a new course in Spring 2017 – AMST 272: Facing Georgetown’s History. This course will revive the Program’s longstanding commitment to exploring and commemorating Georgetown’s history of slavery. Students in this course will examine Georgetown’s roots in the Maryland Jesuits’ slave economy and its legacies; contribute to the Georgetown Slavery Archive by identifying and interpreting archival materials; and develop memory and reconciliation projects related to Georgetown’s ongoing efforts to reflect on our own school’s history.
This community-based research seminar on migration combines anthropology and principles of activist research. With 65 million people forcibly displaced, and over 244 million more migrants living abroad worldwide, migration in its various forms is one of the most pressing human rights issues today. As an anthropology class, we will read about the lived experience of migration – spotlighting the distinctions and commonalities between migrants, refugees, asylees, and trafficked persons. And as members of a 4-credit community-based research class, students will conduct field research and create advocacy opportunities on behalf of migrants in the Metropolitan D.C. area. In this way, you will learn from the communities around you while contributing in ways that they identify.
When African women entered the conversation on “feminism” in the 1990s, they turned things upside down by rethinking what it meant to be female, what kinds of issues and values African women prioritized, and whether ‘gender’ would be interpreted differently in the future that they imagined. Their use of the term “African Feminism” signified a challenge to existing western philosophical and gender norms, and a movement in search of African women’s empowerment, and gender empowerment. Using women’s voices, ethnography and film from many parts of the African continent, this course examines how these relationships of empowerment are playing out in parts of West, North, Central, East and Southern Africa today. We learn about, and do research papers on how African culture is shifting as women find their voices, and put forward new conceptions of their roles in marriage and partnership, political and civil society leadership, religion, and emerging LGBT issues.
In this course, we will explore some of the roots of these divisive issues through key topics, including #BlackLivesMatter, deindustrialization and gentrification, and Islam in America. You will be introduced to these themes through two classic forms of anthropology, the written text – also known as an ethnography – and the ethnographic film. In both, the anthropologist or filmmaker is the primary medium through which we, the readers, gain an intimate glimpse into the lives of others and their practices, and lived experiences. Through each of these forms, you will learn to identify how anthropology approaches questions of structural inequality and injustice and learn the tools by which anthropologists go beyond the headlines to bring us closer in touch with ordinary people who are caught up in the long-term patterns of global and local instability.
Labor Economics – 29694 – ECON 481 – 01 Prof. Susan B Vroman | TR 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
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.
This seminar will take a broadly interdisciplinary approach to understanding “Katrina” as both a natural and humanly-engineered disaster—as some have argued, a biopolitical crisis. We will marshal theories and methodologies from Anthropology, History, Geography, Race and Ethnic Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Working-Class Studies, Environmental Humanities, as well as Literary/Cultural Studies, to unlock the complexity of what happened and why. But we will focus particularly on media and cultural representations of the storm and its aftermath to examine how a variety of artists as well as journalists have attempted to document or rewrite the event itself through imagery, narrative, and poetics. At the same time, we will situate such texts within a larger framework of cultural politics that questions the binaries of ‘truth’ and ‘fiction,’ destabilizes the convenient shorthand of a definitive “pre-“ and “post-“ traumatic socio-cultural landscape, and considers how cultural forms themselves shape analysis. Together, we will explore the significance of local cultural practices like Mardi Gras and jazz funerals, read memoir, graphic nonfiction, novels, and poetry, watch plays and films. Music (jazz/brass band, hip hop, Cajun, protest) will be a constant presence in our course but will also close out our seminar in the final weeks.
Latinxs represent the largest, and continue to be a fast-growing, cultural minority in the US. English 208 provides students with an introductory, primarily chronological survey of literary and other cultural artifacts produced by U.S.-based writers and/or artists of Latin-x/”Hispanic”/American descent, most of whom write and/or perform in English, supplemented by a selection of scholarly, critical and theoretical writings which position that body of US Latin-x literary and cultural production in larger, more complex interdisciplinary contexts. These latter include fields as diverse and as intersecting as History, American Studies, Political Science, Geography, Linguistics and Popular- and Mass-Cultural Studies. As an introduction both to a set of texts that in part comprises the object of US Latin-x Literary and Cultural Studies, and to the very field and practice of study which names itself thus, English 208 challenges students to think, and work, outside the traditional parameters of more conventional courses in literary history and interpretation. Readings will represent the historical, national, racial, cultural, political, sexual, class-based, linguistic and other differences which make up the heterogeneous forms of US Latin-x experience, and will thus complicate, even as they retain, the presumed coherence of the umbrella term “Latinidad” under which they are usually subsumed.
Prof. Dennis A. Williams and Prof. Elizabeth A. Velez | MR 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm
Perhaps more than any of the artificially framed decades of recent history, “The Sixties,” retains the power to evoke, to incite, and to infuriate. Still the good old days (high times) for some and the end of everything for others, it is that creature of time that many, especially of younger generations, wish would just go away and shut up. Our course examines this decade — less a specific period of years than a pivotal moment in history — primarily through movements for social justice that both influenced and were inspired by changes in cultural media, including the emergence of new forms of literature. This exploration will be guided by two “survivors,” instructors themselves shaped by the time period who have also studied it. They bring their battle-worn and sometimes conflicting perspectives to writers like Malcolm X, Adrienne Rich, James Baldwin and Tillie Olson, and invite you to discover your own. And we will not resist the temptation to introduce music and film in limited doses to enhance our understanding of the political and social issues at play.
In this course, we will examine Anglo-American and African American narratives from 1845 to 1959 in order to understand how the social construction of race along DuBois’s color line has been constructed, narrated, employed, and deployed in the US. We will be particularly interested in how the binary of black and white signifies and symbolizes social and cultural identities, conflicts and interests in American literature. What strategies and codes are used to construct race in American literature? Additionally, what role does race play in the interpretation of American literature? Readings may include, among others, works by Douglass, Hawthorne, Larsen, Fitzgerald, Wright, Faulkner and Morrison.
By 2009, according to a United Nations report, more people around the world lived in cities than in rural areas. Nearly 80% of Americans live in cities. The city is where we live, but it is also the subject of creative, theoretical, and political engagement. In this course, we will consider how representations of the city reflect but also help to shape these engagements. What stories do people tell, what images do they create, about the experience and meaning of cities? And why do those representations matter? While we will draw on some sources and theories with European roots, most of our texts come from the US. We’ll read fiction and poetry from the 19th century to the 21st century; view documentary films and parts of contemporary television series, including The Wire; and look at visual and digital representations, as well. Along with informal writing in response to course readings, students will create multimedia projects about specific cities of their choice, combining their own writing with existing written, visual, and digital sources.
This course, on the cultures and traditions of the indigenous peoples of North America, will focus on Native American literature since the 1960s, a period that has come to be called the Native American Renaissance. We will read novels, poetry, plays, and literary and cultural criticism by major Native authors, and will watch performances (by Daystar/ Rosalie M. Jones and the Native comedy group, the 1491s) and at least one film (Powwow Highway (1989)). Some major preoccupations in this body of work are the recovery of Native identity and history; contesting and revising racial, gender, and colonial stereotypes about “Indians”; recollecting and affirming indigenous practices of resistance to colonization; exploring Native understandings of a traditional connection with the land and its diverse life forms; and addressing cultural and political issues involving sovereignty.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of game design through the lens of control systems and strategies of resistance to the often problematic content and practices of the video game industry. The course is part seminar, part workshop that will give students an introduction to the rhetorical devices of video games and virtual spaces and experience in manipulating those devices to create a prototype for a digital game or other interactive experience. Approximately half of the class meetings will engage students in traditional seminar-style lecture and discussion format, with the other half dedicated to guiding student groups in building theoretically-informed projects that will make a persuasive argument about or intervention on a social justice issue of their choice. This will give students experience in connecting theory with praxis, creating collaborative scholarship, working in new modes of literacy, and extending the uses of technology beyond those for which they were originally intended.
This course studies the application of ethics to contemporary issues of international business operating in different economic, political and cultural settings. Drawing on established ethical theory, the course uses normative criteria to evaluate “best choice” options for real-world decisions. Consideration of global economic justice and corporate social responsibility are examined, along with mandatory and voluntary methods of influencing business behavior. Students will examine these issues from the perspective of corporate employees and managers, home and host government officials, and civil society activists.”
The fight over labor rights in trade has exposed deeper tensions between and within public and private sector objectives, exemplified by the hotly contested fight over the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the public sector, foreign assistance and diplomacy has focused on the twin goals of promoting effective governance with human rights and a robust civil society and sustainable economic growth. Private sector responses vary greatly, ranging from the fragmentation of production and fissuring of employment to hide violations to developing investment and supply chain codes of conduct that may or may not be effective. The trade-related labor requirements raise opportunities and challenges for both public policy and corporate strategy. This course will help provide students with the knowledge and skills to navigate through them.
Among the topics we shall examine this semester are: Secularization and desecularization; nonviolence, just war and peacemaking; globalization and transnationalism; global human development; migration and refugee flows; religious freedom and human rights; forgiveness and reconciliation; religious institutions and leaders in international politics, and religion and U.S. foreign policy. A distinctive dimension of this seminar will be study of the role of specific religions (e.g., Judaism), formal religious bodies (e.g. the Holy See), denominations (e.g. Mennonites), religiously affiliated organizations (e.g., Catholic Relief Services or World Vision) or religious movements (e.g., Pax Christi International, Interfaith Youth Corps) in world affairs.
This course is part of a recently-created line of courses in the Department of Government (designated as GOVX) that follow a non-traditional structure and format, based on different methods and schedules of instruction and learning. The Spring 2016 version of the course involved extended class meetings and interactions with a group of incarcerated individuals, leading to a major public event and the cover story of the Washington Post Sunday Magazine. The Spring 2017 version will focus on societal reentry, as Georgetown students will work with people who are returning from prison and adjusting to free society. The class–which is a 5-credit course–is intended for a small number of highly-motivated students who are passionate about criminal justice and prison reform and are eager to leave campus and explore these issues, challenges, and human stories.
The world we inhabit, including cities, transportation systems, food supply, energy production, and other aspects of modern life are the product of the work of human hands, as are the wastes and hazards produced. Disparate exposures to the hazards and unequal distribution of the benefits of modern life cause injustice that leads to health disparities. This course will explore how to critically explore hazards, develop collaborative solutions using community-based participatory research principles, and evaluate those solutions to promote environmental justice and reduce environmental and occupational health disparities. Students will work in groups in collaboration with community members impacted by environmental and occupational health issues, utilizing the principles of Community-Based Learning.
This seminar course is designed for first-year students with advanced placement in history who have an interest in pursuing the study of history at the upper level. The course will explore the ways in which Americans dealt with work and the “labor problem” from the era of slavery and artisan production, through industrialization and post-industrialism, to the recent emergence of a “gig economy” enabled by new technologies. It will examine the changing relationship between the organization of work and the direction of the nation’s politics over time. The course consists of readings, writing assignments, and class discussions; there are no exams in this course.
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.
This upper level seminar examines African Americans and capitalism in the United States by looking at the history of African American entrepreneurship, the development of black capitalism ideology, and the ways that freedom struggles resist privatization. The course will focus on various black-led economic projects, as well as the role of the business community in shaping black political and cultural practices. Topics include the National Negro Business League, African American women’s success in the hair care industry, Black Power and economic development, and the commodification of the Civil Rights Movement.
This course traces the origins, development, and demise of chattel slavery in North America. Topics will include the connections between North America and the Atlantic slave trade, the diverse slave societies that emerged in the colonies, the consequences of the American Revolution for slaves and slaveowners, the expansion of slavery in the southern United States, the rise of an organized antislavery movement, the destruction of slavery during the Civil War, and the efforts of freed people to give meaning to their “new birth of freedom” after slavery.
Prof. Andria Kathleen Wisler and Prof. Lahra Smith | One-credit course that meets five times over the course of the semester
This course will provide an opportunity for students to engage in activism around a range of issues in higher education throughout the spring semester, while reading critical literature in the field and reflecting on their activities. The first session is an introduction to the study of the role of nonviolent resistance in diverse international settings such as Iran, the Palestinian territories, the Philippines and Burma, and its application to higher education activism. The remaining three sessions will each be divided into two sub-themes: the first half of each class session will be a skill-building and reflection session, and the second half of the class session will be devoted to guest lectures presenting cases of dynamic student organizing in higher education contexts from around the world. Multiple writing genres will engage students’ reflective and critical thinking on the role that activism plays in the lives of those they work with, as well as their own professional and intellectual and social development outside and inside the University. This course is both an academic and a practical opportunity to engage in activism, but also to reflect on the meaning of participating in a values-driven institution and what it means to hold that institution and themselves to those values.
Prof. Kerry Blair Danner-McDonald | TR 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
This course identifies issues of justice in relation to commodification of the environment and the human person. Using multiple disciplinary lenses, we will pay particular attention to issues of inequality and identity in consumer culture. Practices of religious and secular resistance to commodification will be covered and special attention will be given to how dissent itself may be commodified.
This gateway course surveys the histories, theories, concepts, actors, and pedagogies that compose the growing transdisciplinary field of justice and peace studies. We will familiarize ourselves with current issues in the field, as well as the movements and structures that both contribute to and provide obstacles to the creation and sustainability of a more just and peaceful world. The course presents a wide range of theoretical and practical perspectives on peace and social justice, including: poverty, hunger, and homelessness; racism, sexism, and homophobia; violence, oppression, slavery, and colonization; and complex issues of sustainable development and humanitarian aid. Through historical and contemporary analyses, the course addresses critical issues of militarism, inequality, and injustice, emphasizing the development of viable alternatives.
This course is designed to introduce students to a perspective on nonviolence that integrates theory and practice, drawing upon a wide range of literature and examples. A central aim of the course is to develop a holistic view of nonviolence as a set of practices that range from the personal and local to the national and global. The course seeks to foster an experiential engagement with the tenets of nonviolence, through participation in workshops, activities, and projects in the community and region. The overarching objective is to develop a systematic analysis of nonviolence in order to cultivate effective approaches to addressing contemporary challenges in society through nonviolent means, as well as envisioning and animating a world built on the tenets of nonviolence.
The course has three key objectives. First, we will explore the importance of reflection in action, which is central to moral leadership. In addition to the course readings and exercises, this objective will be served in an off-campus retreat conducted by the Reverend Steve Spahn, S.J., Director of Ignatian Programs at Georgetown. Second, we will analyze when and why people engage in moral leadership, including the role of courage in undertaking such action—and how those actions changed the course of history or influenced the day-to-day quality of life in local communities, organizations, and nations. This objective will be served in the “Daring to Resist” and the “Moral Leadership Project” papers. The final objective of this course focuses on how you translate values into actions. More specifically, how to act on one’s beliefs—to resist that which is wrong or unjust, and convince others “to stand for something you believe in, the good, the right thing to do.”
The course is organized into three parts. We begin with traditional accounts of the justification of political authority and the value of collective economic life. After examining the spectacular way in which markets produce wealth, we examine how they fail: how government can improve economic outcomes by, for example, solving collective action problems and providing public goods. In the second part of the course, we turn from questions of efficiency to questions of justice, surveying the major theories of economic justice: utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, luck egalitarianism, and desertism. In the final part of the course, we consider the moral aspects of salient public policy debates, including taxation and affirmative action. We study formal models of discrimination.
This course will bring a philosophic lens to questions about gender and its significance. We will examine aspects of the social and political significance of gender through the study of a range of texts, focusing throughout on analyzing and articulating the moral challenges introduced by the topics we study – e.g., concerning justice, fairness, expressive liberty, courage, and the demands of compassion and respect. Among the topics we will address are the following: taking moral responsibility for gender oppression; the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’; images, myths, and norms of masculinity and femininity; sexual orientation and gender orientation; competing explanations of gender differences; androcentrism and the dynamics of privilege; psychological oppression and self-respect; shame and gender; sexuality, domination, and violence; gender and ‘discursive injustice’; gender and the politics of appearance; and conceptions of liberation.
Many of today’s environmental laws were enacted in the 1970s and have not kept pace with globalization or rapidly-evolving technology. These outdated laws often fail to ensure that the environmental benefits and burdens of new technologies are shared equitably. This course will examine the intersection of environmental law, technology, and justice. We will first cover the building blocks of U.S. environmental law, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, approaching these laws through the lens of emerging technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, water reuse, renewable energy). We will then turn to international environmental policy issues like climate change, hazardous waste exports, and the rights of indigenous peoples. The course will use a variety of teaching methods, including lecture and classroom discussion, student presentations, guest speakers, a moot court, a negotiation simulation, and two environmental technology and justice field trips in the Washington D.C. area.
This course offers an introduction to classic and contemporary research on racial and ethnic relations in the United States within the sociological tradition, which emphasizes the social constructionist perspective of race and ethnicity and the structures that maintain racial and ethnic patterns of inequality and power. It also examines the central tensions underlying race and ethnic relations. While the course’s focus is on the United States, we will devote some attention to intergroup relations beyond this country’s borders as a means of illuminating the definitions of and the roles that race and ethnicity play in shaping America’s identity and social fabric. As a requirement of this course, students will partake in A Different Dialogue as its lab component. This intergroup dialogue lab will allow students to extend their understanding of the course materials and draw connections to social identities such as their own race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality and social class.
This course has three complementary parts. Students begin with an overview of the U.S. justice system. We pay special attention to the last 35 years and the impact of the War on Drugs on society, especially mass incarceration. This is followed by a section focusing on “Hot Topics” in the law. Students will read and brief landmark Supreme Court cases on such topics as, same sex marriage, gun ownership, climate change, campaign finance, and the criminalization of poverty. Students, in small groups, choose one topic they will be an expert in and create an informative website and accompanying short video informing fellow Millennials why they need to know about it and what they can do about it. Finally, students have the opportunity to make it real through mock trials. Playing the roles of attorneys and witnesses, students learn the mechanics of a trial and create legal strategies to best represent their clients. It all comes together when students enact the trials in courtrooms at Georgetown Law with legal professionals serving as judges.
“Global inequality” is a term that refers 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. Global development is the field of research concerning efforts to improve human well-being around the globe. This course explores areas of human existence where there are great disparities around the globe and the efforts being made to alleviate the inequalities. We will use sociological theories and concepts as tools to critically analyze development efforts and the contexts they happen in. Topics include micro finance, food security, health interventions (including HIV/AIDS), sex trafficking, labor and sweatshops, poverty, and disaster relief.
The course will apply the theological method of Bernard Lonergan, S.J. to four phases of the African-American struggle in order to discern and describe the transcendent presence of God. We will examine how, when, and where God shows up in the experience of African-Americans. We will look at four periods: (1) Contemporary Black Culture, (2) The Civil Rights Movement, (3) Reconstruction and Turn of the Century, and (4) Slavery. We will understand the theological method of Lonergan and apply it to these four phases of the struggle in an effort to understand faith, and its impact on the struggle of African-Americans. Lonergan’s notions of cognition, history, dialect, doctrine, conversion, and bias will be treated.
This course focuses on issues of social justice within the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament as seen within their historical and cultural environments. Biblical texts will be considered in a generally chronological fashion, as determined by contemporary methods of historical literary criticism, with attention to both political and ideological concerns. Extra-biblical ideals such as those of the Code of Hammurabi and other ancient lawcodes will be examined with reference to the Torah, along with relevant texts of the wisdom literature – also ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian – but the emphasis will be on deuteronomic and prophetic criticisms and efforts at reform in the Hebrew Scriptures, on the teaching of Jesus and its aftermath as expressed in the Gospels, and on concerns for members of the community within the early Church, as witnessed by Paul’s Letters, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Letters of James, John, and the Book of Revelation. Issues of liberation and feminist theology relating to the biblical text will also be addressed.
We will explore the broadly and critically defined “genealogies” of women’s and gender studies, and investigate the key concepts, theoretical debates, ideologies, and historical significance of the discipline. Learning and borrowing from Sophocles to Virginia Woolf to Audre Lorde to Cynthia Enloe, we attempt to construct a theoretical framework that will be helpful and challenging to our intellectual and practical pursuit of a just world in which both women and men can celebrate themselves and each other. In this endeavor, special emphases will be given to the issues of heterosexism, violence, militarism, human rights, sexuality and body, disability, labor, domesticity, and political activism. The investigation of these issues will be put in the context of related, but distinct, intellectual interrogations of race, class, nationality, ethnicity, and sexual orientations in the disciplines of race theory, postcolonial studies, LGBTQ studies, disability studies, and cultural studies.
Prof. Emerald L. Christopher | M 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
This course will explore the intersection of gender and race and other components of social identity from an interdisciplinary perspective. We will address the inter and intra relationship of women of color with feminism, locally and globally. While examining theories and bodies of knowledge, we will analyze how historical and contemporary realities of women of color are influenced by a legacy of structural inequalities. Students will learn the importance of applying knowledge from a variety of theoretical and political standpoints. The approach to this course will pay particular attention to sociological aspects of identity as well as cultural representations that are manifestations of systems of oppression. This course aims to move us from being limited in feminist theory and text as a variation on the theme of “woman” or being a component in referencing gender, race, class, and sexuality, into the realization that it is possible not only to hope for but also to make change.
Prof. Patricia Biermayr-Jenzano | M 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm
The course will present an overview of gender and development policies worldwide, including the introduction to gender analysis as the central aspect to understanding patterns of land use and conservation strategies, both individual and collective and how male and female farmers contribute differently to conservation and agricultural production efforts. Students will be presented with real case studies from all regions (Latin America, Asia and Africa) documenting gender gaps in relation to access to land, agricultural and natural resources (water, soil), extension services, farm labor, forest, livestock, credit/microcredit, etc. Current international trends and research streams on gender and agriculture and natural resource management (NRM) will be discussed and analyzed with the aim to influence policy to reach lasting change. The course is an interactive experience and students are expected to actively contribute to the class through their involvement in field studies, analysis of particular case studies and innovative presentations skills (videos, posters, maps, etc.)