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Indiana University Bloomington

Fall 2017  Diversity Difference Otherness

Course Descriptions

African American and African Diaspora Studies
AAAD -A 251 Photography of and by the African Diaspora
P. Wolfskill   |    CASE A&H, CASE DUS    |   Course Browser
This course considers the ways in which black bodies have been depicted through photography, a mechanical and “objective” medium that has historically proclaimed to offer a direct index of reality. Often rooted in ideas of blackness as difference or otherness, photographic images (as documentation, archives, art, or advertising) influence cultural understandings of blackness historically and through the present day. Simultaneously, artists of the African diaspora have used photography to create their own conceptions of black identity and/or to meditate on the world around them in a manner that challenges blackness as connoting difference or otherness. This class investigates the complex relationship between photography and the African Diaspora from the photograph’s invention in 1839 through present day digital imagery. We will study a range of photographic genres, including fine arts and avant-garde practices, portraiture, photo books, advertising, and political, social, and scientific documentary. Most of our study will focus on images of African Americans within the history of the United States, although European and African contexts and image-making inform our investigation as well.

The class will use the rich collection of photography, film posters, and illustrated books housed in the Black Film Center/Archive (BFC/A) and Lilly Library. These resources will allow students to get closely engaged with primary and archival sources, using these materials to conduct original research and analyses of photographic images and learn foundational tools for curating a museum exhibition (writing proposals and labels, conceptualizing and organizing objects for display, proposing specific themes, etc.). The course will prove invaluable to students of African American and African Diaspora studies, art history, studio art, gender studies, and museum studies, among other disciplines. This class contributes to the fall 2017 themester topic “Diversity/ Difference/ Otherness” and will engage with the many themester events offered across campus.

American Studies
AMST-A100 What is America? (Topic: Nation of Immigrants)
V. Halloran   |   CASE A&H, CASE DUS, GenEd WC  |   Course Browser  
Throughout this fall, our class will engage with the explicit theme of Themester 2017, “Diversity, Difference, Otherness” as we learn about the multiple waves of immigration that have diversified the population and shaped the national character of the United States. We will consider the impacts, both positive and negative, of the arrivals of newcomers upon our shores, and review the angry debates that arose whenever social expectations for immigrants’ assimilation into the dominant culture did not proceed as smoothly as planned. Finally, we will learn from immigrants themselves as they create imaginative works of fiction—a play and two novels—as well as in non-fiction first-person accounts told by immigrants or their descendants. Our course will examine how “otherness” has been leveraged throughout American public discourse as an insult that simultaneously isolates those to whom it is applied even as it has the opposite effect of galvanizing those who use it as “us” or “insiders.” And, we will hear contrasting views about the legacy of the United States as an immigrant nation from U. S. presidents throughout the political spectrum. This class examines the complexity of the issue of immigration and its legacy upon what we now think of as “America.” It assumes that there are no easy or clear-cut answers to the contemporary debates surrounding immigration policy in the United States.

This version of A100 What is America? will also introduce you to the interdiscipline of American Studies and ask you to devise your own answers to the question posed in the title.


Anthropology
ANTH-L 204/SLST-S 204 Language and (In)Tolerance in the U.S. 
P. Lesourd   |   CASE S&H    |  Course Browser
This course explores the roles that perceptions of linguistic differences among groups and individuals play in intolerant behavior on the part of some segments of American society, and the corresponding roles that genuine understanding of these differences can play in promoting tolerance and guiding responses to intolerance. The course explores American attitudes toward differences in dialect, with particular attention to African American Vernacular English and its role in American culture. Other topics include American responses to speakers with foreign accents, linguistic aspects of the immigrant experience, the proper function of bilingual education, the question of an official language for the United States, and the effects of language ideologies on the lives of minority groups in the US who speak non-standard English. 

ANTH-E 444 Parks and Protected Areas
S. Osterhoudt   |   CASE S&H, CASE DUS   |   Course Browser
From tropical rainforests, to urban playgrounds, parks and protected areas have long been used to promote environmental conservation and the protection of endangered species around the world. Yet, parks are also often sites of historical, political and cultural conflict. This course draws from examples from around the world, including Africa, Latin America, and the United States, to examine the social and cultural dimensions of parks and protected areas. Topics we will cover include cultural ideas of nature and wilderness, the “park versus people” debate, community-based conservation, ecotourism, and new, emerging models for conservation and development. ​By the end of the course, we will recognize how protected areas represent a collection not only of plants and animals, but also of meanings and social relationships.

Biology
BIOL-L 326 Biodiverse-City! The Art & Science of Green Infrastructure
Prereq: 100-level Biology or Environmental Science course
H. Reynolds   |    Course Browser
Must cities be disconnected from nature? Or can our cities be greener places, more alive with trees, birds, and other wildlife? Can such greener cities actually be more functional cities, which deliver essential services like food and clean water and air with less pollution and overall higher quality of life? Around the world, biodiverse green spaces are increasingly recognized as “green infrastructure” capable of providing lower cost, more resilient, and often healthier services to humans than can the corresponding energy intensive “gray infrastructure” of the built environment. Drawing from ecological science and the arts and humanities, this course takes an interdisciplinary, place-based approach to understanding biological diversity and its relationship to flourishing human societies, and to reconnecting humans and nature.

Collins Living Learning Center
CLLC-L 210 Culture, the Arts, and Society: The Body and the Earth
A. Chambers   |   GenEd A&H,  CASE A&H  |   Course Browser
In what ways do we identify some bodies and places with ourselves and others as just that—“other”? This course examines the links between human bodies and environmental change in our new era of globalization. Through a combination of creative and critical inquiry, we will ask how writers and artists have imagined bodily relationships to the places they inhabit, especially in relation to forces of globalization and climate change. We will hear how mushrooms sold to Japan offer insights on feminism, unearth colonialism in Indiana gardens, and analyze panics about climate refugees. Our goal will be to come to an understanding of how bodies and places are not separate objects but in many ways continuous. It’s an idea, of course, that’s been recognized by various cultures for centuries. In this course, by way of literature and art from around the world, we’ll work to bring it back home.

Critical Approaches
COLL-C 103 The Ebonics Controversy
S. Davis  |   GenEd A&H,  CASE A&H, CASE CAPP |   Course Browser   
This course deals with the controversy concerning Ebonics (often referred to as Black English or African American Vernacular English in the academic literature).  The controversy has several different aspects that impact social, educational, and linguistic issues. The class takes an academic perspective on the topic in which we examine and try to understand various aspects of the controversy. What is Ebonics? Is it a separate language, a dialect, slang, bad grammar, or really not a distinct entity?  Are its origins traceable to the language systems of Africa, or is it a variant of Southern English? What are people’s perceptions of Ebonics and how does that relate to themes of “otherness” and “difference”?  If the mainstream society considers Ebonics in a negative way, does that also entail that the people who use it are viewed negatively as well?  Why are certain ways of speaking stigmatized but not others?  This course deals with these and other issues through readings, films, group discussions, writing assignments, and lectures. We will come to understand the different viewpoints regarding these different facets of the Ebonics controversy and what underlies those viewpoints.

COLL-C 103 Conceptions of the Self, East and West
A. Stalnaker |   GenEd A&H,  CASE A&H, CASE CAPP  |   Course Browser
It is a truism that different cultures propound different visions of human life.  But what are we as contemporary residents of an increasingly heterogeneous nation to make of this diversity?  Do we have any rational basis for evaluating the alternative possibilities for life presented by different religious and philosophical traditions?  This course examines important, indeed classic, statements on the nature of human existence from the ancient and modern West, and from East Asia, and endeavors to sensitively compare these diverse visions of human life without capitulating to nihilism, relativism, or self-satisfied cultural chauvinism.  We examine influential representatives of several traditions, including Confucianism, Daoism, Christianity, Marxism, and contemporary democratic political theory.  Recurring issues include the character and relation of reason and emotion; the nature and source of saving dispositions; understandings of the relation of our more animal and more human sides; problems in life that deform the self; the need, if any, for transcendent influences to actualize the self; the form of and rationale for various practices of self-cultivation; and the relation of individual and communal flourishing.  All readings are in English or English translation.

COLL-C 104 Language Hotspots and Biodiversity
D. Stringer  |  GenEd S&H CASE S&H, CASE CAPP |   Course Browser
The course COLL-C104 Language Hotspots and Biodiversity has at its core the interplay between human cultural diversity and biological diversity, and, as such, covers many themes that are central to Themester 2017. Regions of the world with high linguistic and cultural diversity overlap significantly with regions of high biodiversity, and include Amazonia, the Congo, Indonesia and New Guinea. We examine the historical, social, geographical, and environmental factors that explain this correlation of diversity in culture and nature. Similarly, the alarming disappearance of indigenous cultures is demonstrably is linked to the current wave of environmental destruction driven by anthropogenic forces. This correspondence is the basis for the expanding field of research on biocultural diversity, and for environmental action that ties support for endangered cultures to the conservation of ecosystems. From the perspective of language and culture, issues addressed that relate directly to the Themester include linguistic relativity and linguistic universals; culturally relative understandings of culture and nature; the encoding of knowledge of biodiversity in particular grammatical systems; and linguistic diversity as a window on human cognition. From the perspective of biology and conservation, issues that relate directly to the Themester include resource prioritization for biodiversity conservation, implications of biodiversity loss for medicine, and how ethnobotany reveals the extent to which biodiversity is fundamental to human health and well-being.

The following Critical Approaches courses are part of an innovative multidisciplinary look at one topic. Students spend the first 8 weeks in their primary registered section, then rotate to each of the other two sections for 3 weeks each, before returning to their primary section. 

COLL-C 103 Difference and Diversity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality - The Humanities Perspective
B. Weber  |   GenEd A&H,  CASE A&H, CASE CAPP  |   Course Browser
This course takes up the themes of diversity, difference, and otherness from the point of view of the critical humanities.   We will think more about how culture (film, books, television, music, dance, theatre, etc.) creates conversations about identity, belonging, and place often through depictions and discussions related to diversity, difference, and otherness. (Multiple course titles are listed under this course number.  Choose section 13140 with Prof. B. Weber.)

COLL-C 104 Difference and Diversity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality - The Social Sciences Perspective
J. Lee  |  GenEd S&H CASE S&H, CASE CAPP |   Course Browser
This course takes up the themes of diversity, difference, and otherness from the point of view of the social sciences, namely sociology.  We will first and foremost examine how the concepts and lived experiences of race, gender, and sexuality are shaped by social processes, and how these dimensions of difference are often associated with social and material inequalities. (Multiple course titles are listed under this course number. Choose section 13141 with Prof. J. Lee.)

COLL-C 105 Difference and Diversity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality - The Natural Sciences Perspective
J. Garcia  |  GenEd N&M CASE N&M, CASE CAPP |   Course Browser
This course takes up the themes of diversity, difference, and otherness from the point of view of the natural sciences. We will examine race, gender, and sexuality as scientific constructs, how they have been and continue to be applied, and their constituent parts from the perspective of human evolutionary biology. A focus will be on mechanisms of natural and sexual selection to shape regional adaptations to social and environmental ecologies. Demands for survival and reproduction will be considered in the context of specific regions of origin, adaptive individual differences, and both how and why diversity and difference are important to understanding the natural world. (This course number has multiple titles. Choose section 13143 with Prof. J. Garcia.)

East Asian Languages and Cultures
EALC-E 204 Linguistic Diversity
Note: This course number has variable topics. Only this topic is related to Themester 2017.
N. Tanaka   |  CASE S&H, CASE GCC, GenEd WC  |   Course Browser 
When we think of East Asia, we usually think of countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. However, when you adopt a linguistic perspective, each of these three countries in East Asia comprise of multiple distinct communities. This course will provide an overview of the languages and cultures that exist in East Asia beyond the usual three-way contrast among Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Essentially, this course presents each country in East Asia as a heterogeneous society, and students will be able to define “East Asia” with a better understanding of the diversity it represents within. Through a linguistic lens, then, we can gain an alternative definition of “difference” and diversity. By learning about the diversity in East Asia, the students will also understand the challenges multiethnic, multilingual societies face, think about how to best address these issues in order to achieve a more inclusive society that values diversity, and develop their own ideas that can be applicable to a global context. Students will also understand how East Asia relates to the rest of the world through learning about its linguistic and cultural connections to the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia, and reconsider the boundary we draw between self and “other”.

Folklore
FOLK-F 305 Cultural Diversity in China
S. Tuohy   |  CASE A&H, CASE GCC |   Course Browser
In spite of media reports telling us that “Chinese culture is like this” and “Chinese people do or think that”, both China and Chinese are diverse. Differences in regional and ethnic groups are pervasive topics of conversation among Chinese, have become the focus on tourism and cultural preservation programs, and often are celebrated through the rhetoric of multiculturalism. But difference and perceptions of otherness also have contributed to conflicts between groups in China as well as between groups and Chinese central governments. 

“Cultural Diversity in China” provides students with opportunities to learn about diverse groups, worldviews, and practices in contemporary China through studying about diverse forms of identity and difference--from regional, ethnic, gender, religious, generational, and linguistic to rural and urban and local and national. Many class sessions will emphasize artistic and expressive forms (such as music and folklore, film and television, festivals and food, and cultural heritage) as well as the roles they play in representing people and places in China. Among the broad questions to be addressed are: What is China? Who are Chinese (and who aren’t)? What is Chinese culture (and who says)? And how does our understanding of the factors that contribute to both diversity and unity within China help us to understand more broadly the processes through which identities and images of “otherness” are conceptualized, constructed, and represented?


Jewish Studies
JSTU-J 304 Antisemitism in Sociohistorical Perspective
Note: This course number has variable topics. Only this topic is related to Themester 2017.
G. Jikeli |  CASE S&H  |   Course Browser
Irrational and often lethal hatred of Jews has a history of over 2000 years. The “Othering” of Jews and the entrenchment of difference has been a precondition for the exclusion of Jews. Antisemitism made its first appearance in the ancient world, later intensifying in waves in Christian Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Islamic countries. Antisemitic myths became deeply embedded in Western culture. Racial and genocidal antisemitism rose with 19th century nationalism and culminated in the attempt by Nazi Germany to indiscriminately wipe out every member of the Jewish “race”. After Nazism was defeated and the horrors of the Holocaust became public, antisemitism in its racist forms became illegitimate in most societies. However, somewhat curiously, antisemitic attitudes and behavior continue to be a worldwide phenomenon today. They are often manifested in irrational attacks against the Jewish State of Israel in a context of increasing political polarization, but also in distortions and denial of the Holocaust or in physical attacks against Jews. What are the historical roots of antisemitism? Why and in what forms does antisemitism persist today? What are factors in society that advance or contain antisemitism?

Students will complete the course with an increased understanding of the irrational motives involved in antisemitism, how antisemitism is similar to and different from other prejudices, as well as the multiple sources from which antisemitism derives. We will study antisemitism from multiple angles, including historical, social, philosophical, and psychological perspectives.

JSTU-J 304 Refugees and Migrants
 Note: This course number has variable topics. Only this topic is related to Themester 2017.
M. Zadoff |  CASE S&H  |   Course Browser
As a result of wars, persecution and conflicts worldwide replacement hits all time high: 59.5 million people, every 122 human is a refugee or seeking asylum – half of them children. These numbers don’t include migrants, who are on the move due to economic hardship, hunger and global warming. Yet the problem is not new, and so we will start our course with the history of migrants and refugees in the 19th century: Then Jews, Irish, Italians and others left there homes in search for a better world, only to find the poverty of the other side of the Atlantic. We will then turn to the 20th century, to World War I, the Holocaust as a paradigmatic moment of displacement, and the introduction of national and international Human Rights legislations. We will finally arrive at the present state of refugees and migrants all over the globe, and especially the current ‘European refugee crisis’. Throughout the course we’ll discuss legislations, national and communal relief organization, and the everyday life experiences of migrants, their journeys and arrivals at their destinations.

Latino Studies
LATS-L 200 American Borderlands
J. Ramirez   |  CASE A&H, GenEd A&H, CASE DUS  |   Course Browser
No other physical geographic space has captured our most heated and controversial debates about citizenship more perfectly than the American borderlands, the border between the US and Mexico.  Furthermore, no other population (with perhaps the exception of Asian and Asian Americans) regardless of legal status has been perceived and continues to be perceived as the perpetual foreigner or “other” than the population of Mexican descent.  By addressing the ways in which the social construction of the border has evolved and shaped issues concerning national identity, place and landscape, contact zones, protection and security, labor and domesticity, race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality, the course directly examines issues of diversity, difference, and otherness.  In addition, the course examines the diversity of border culture and the lived experiences of border people and the immigrants entering and leaving the U.S. (whether as documented or undocumented).  Lastly, the course hopes to expose students to the fact that the American Borderlands also represents a figurative space (Gloria Anzaldua), a liminal or third space which captures the intersection of identities.  In this case, the American Borderlands has created a unique ethos which blends US and Mexican cultures.

Three by Serling: 21st Century Twilight Zone is is a combination of a production coordination course (MSCH-M-453, independent studies (MSCH-X-490) and volunteering. Students will learn the fundamentals of television production by producing three episodes of the mid-20th century series, The Twilight Zone.

 Media Studies
MSCH-M 453 Topical Seminar in Industry & Management: Twilight Zone
MSCH-X 490 Projects in Media: Twilight Zone

S. Krahnke   |    Course Browser
The Twilight Zone was created at a pivotal time in American history. The Cold War, red scare, Cuban Missile Crisis, the space race, and other realities were the inspiration behind many of the most famous Twilight Zone scripts.

  • The Shelter addresses how fear of the unknown, coupled with human nature for survival can destroy communities;
  • The Monsters are Due on Maple Street addresses similar themes, but in a way that is a clear metaphor for agent provocateurs who make use of paranoia and lack of critical thinking;
  • Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up addresses how “otherness” is often more complicated than simple dichotomy.

The question “who is one of us?” is important whether we are discussing religion, immigration, forced migration, race, gender, economics, mental health, disease, politics and even biology. The “morals” stated at the end of each episode make clear that Serling intended these scenarios to be cautionary tales (as were most Twilight Zone episodes). So while Serling’s cautions serve to suggest that 1960’s problems could not be solved by simply choosing “who belonged,” such cautions are also welcome today.

Students may take one of two courses, or may simply volunteer.

The class (3 credits “topics” course) MSCH-M-453
will be primarily related to production and production management. As such, the class will operate much as a production company. We will learn how to produce television programs, ostensibly by actually producing three iconic episodes of Twilight Zone.  

Independent Studies (1, 2, or 3 credits) taken under the existing umbrella of X490.
Key production personnel will register for independent studies related to the production of these Twilight Zone episodes. Students are encouraged to consider this opportunity to be a kind of “capstone” to their academic career.

Some students may be encouraged to register for both the topics course AND an independent study. Others may simply choose to volunteer their time. Casting will be open to students, faculty and members of the community.


Philosophy

PHIL-P 103 Gender, Sexuality, and Race in Philosophical Perspectives
K. Abramson |  CASE A&H, GenEd A&H  |   Course Browser 
Gender, sexuality, and race are vitally important, yet extremely complicated, aspects of our everyday lives. We tend to assume that these categories mark crucial differences among us. Consider, for instance, how common it is to say about someone you just met, “I met this guy who…” or “there’s the woman (or girl) in my class who…”  Why should it be that even in casual contexts like these, one of the first things we think of to mention about someone is their gender?  These categories also almost always mark very deep aspects of our self-conception. Think about what it would be like to wake up tomorrow a different gender than what you are today, or with a different sexual orientation, or a different race—or all three!  We also very often assume that differences across these categories are obstacles to understanding. People say things like “you wouldn’t get it; you’re a guy”. And yet these are also some of the differences across which we most need to understand one another. In a similar vein, we assume that these categories constitute significant differences among us when we think of “diversity” in terms of gender, sexuality and race. We all know perfectly well, for instance, what people mean if they say that a group comprised of all Caucasian, male, straight folks is not diverse.

What lies behind these assumptions? When are they appropriate assumptions to make, and when are they not? Why? To answer those questions, we need to bring the tools of philosophy to understanding these three central dimensions of difference, otherness and diversity in 21st century life. This class will be divided into six sections, each of which will look at a different dimension of gender, race and sexuality. Readings will be drawn from both recent philosophical history (the first half of the 20th century) and contemporary philosophical work.  Assignments for the course will include several in class exercises, but graded work will focus on short writing assignments that will be graded in revision. That is, students will turn in drafts of these short papers, receive extensive comments on them, and then revise in light of the comments. Grades for the papers will be based on how well you respond to the comments on your drafts.

Political Science

POLS-Y 329 Racial and Ethnic Politics in the U.S.
B. Fraga |  CASE S&H  |   Course Browser
Issues of race and ethnicity have shaped American political history from the colonial era to the present, and certainly well before the election of President Barack Obama and candidacy of Donald Trump. Indeed, over the past half century, no national election would have been competitive without including the political preferences of racial and ethnic minority groups (including African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Muslim Americans) along with non-Hispanic Whites. Thus, a complete understanding of contemporary American politics demands knowledge of racial and ethnic politics. In this course, we will explore the development and maintenance of racial and ethnic boundaries and identities, the inclusion of minority groups and interests into electoral politics, racism and forms of conflict between ethnic groups, and how immigration and an increasingly diverse American society will impact the future political landscape. While we will study the historical contours of race in America, the focus of the course will be on interpreting how race and ethnicity shape politics today and will continue to impact the American political system going forward. Special attention will be placed on recent and future elections (especially 2008, 2012, and 2016), and the shift from a Black-White racial binary to a multi-ethnic framework.

POLS-Y 353 Politics of Gender and Sexuality
D. O'Brien  |  CASE S&H |   Course Browser
This course surveys central topics in the study of gender, sexuality, and politics. We cover issues including the election of women and LGBT candidates to office, legislative efforts on behalf of women and sexual minorities, women’s and gay rights’ movements, and the politics of masculinity. We draw on examples from various world regions and time periods to analyze similarities and differences across cases around the globe.

Second Language Studies
SLST-S 204/ANTH-L 204 Language and (In)Tolerance in the U.S. 
P. Lesourd   |  CASE S&H  |  Course Browser 
This course explores the roles that perceptions of linguistic differences among groups and individuals play in intolerant behavior on the part of some segments of American society, and the corresponding roles that genuine understanding of these differences can play in promoting tolerance and guiding responses to intolerance. The course explores American attitudes toward differences in dialect, with particular attention to African American Vernacular English and its role in American culture. Other topics include American responses to speakers with foreign accents, linguistic aspects of the immigrant experience, the proper function of bilingual education, the question of an official language for the United States, and the effects of language ideologies on the lives of minority groups in the US who speak non-standard English. 

Sociology
SOC-S 324 Mental Illness
B. Perry   |  CASE S&H   |   Course Browser
Consistent with the goals of Themester 2017, entitled Diversity, Difference, Otherness, this course considers fundamental theoretical and empirical questions about how we construct, experience, respond to, and sometimes resist medical definitions of difference. The sociological study of mental illness provides a critical perspective on three important elements of human diversity and otherness. First, how do particular behaviors, emotions, or cognitions come to be defined and labeled as abnormal? The distinction between mental illness and normality reflects the socially constructed and often subjective boundaries of acceptable difference. In this course, we will identify stakeholder groups that construct and maintain definitions of difference as illness, as well as who benefits from such distinctions. We will also discuss how these definitions differ across cultures and over time.

Second, which people and groups in society are disproportionately likely to be labeled as having a mental illness and what are the consequences of this othering? Experimental studies indicate that research and clinical practice is fraught with bias, created or exacerbating group differences in rates of diagnosis with mental illness. These patterns are extremely important because people labeled with a mental illness must confront negative social stigma, including beliefs that people with mental illness are flawed, unintelligent, weak, unpredictable, or dangerous. When difference is labeled as mental illness, there are real social consequences for life chances and wellbeing. In the course, we will discuss these social patterns and explore the causes and consequences of mental illness stigma in contemporary society.

Third, how do we, as a society, manage and respond to mental illness? Historically, society has segregated people with mental illness from the rest of the population. Prior to the deinstitutionalization movement, psychiatric patients were confined to asylums and often subjected to bizarre and inhumane “treatments”. However, reforms implemented in the 1960’s and ‘70’s reduced the number of inpatient psychiatric beds and created an outpatient public community mental health system that is chronically underfunded – increasing homelessness, crime, and imprisonment among people with mental illness. This course will cover historical and contemporary responses to mental illness, exploring what these social, clinical, and policy trends reveal about public attitudes toward difference and the other.

SOC-S 335 Race and Ethnic Relations
 H. Kwon   |    CASE S&H   |   Course Browser
There are many reasons to be optimistic about racial relations in the United States today. Racial discrimination is outlawed, the majority of Americans believe that diversity strengthens our nation, we’ve had a black president, and today’s youth are arguably the most open-minded generation to date. Yet, America is more racially segregated today than at the end of the Civil War; in comparison to whites, most racial minorities are far more likely to receive an inferior education, lower pay, and heavier prison sentences. So how can we understand persistent racial inequality when many people today celebrate differences and claim that race no longer matters in a so-called colorblind society?

To address these timely issues, the course starts with the question of how racial categories are invented and changed in the U.S. Next, we delve into how a range of structural factors —such as politics, labor market, housing, school, and prison system — reproduces racial inequality. From there, we move onto how cultural representations (e.g., media) and micro-interactions create and recreate racial hierarchy and difference in everyday life. The course then examines how race affects identity formation, academic performance, family dynamics, and gender relations. Finally we conclude the course by exploring the topic of social change, asking how a larger system of racial inequality both enables and constrains individual agency and the process of empowerment and resistance. In a socio-historical moment where many Americans simply embrace “colorblindness,” all students will critically think about their own privilege in relation to intersecting forms of inequality. Through short interactive exercises, the course also encourages students to use their personal experiences as the starting point to engage, critique, and challenge existing knowledge.