"Race" in the United States: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Last Updated: 04/24/2008
Faculty: Michael Vavrus social foundations of education, political economy
Faculty Signature Required: Interested students should contact Michael Vavrus to discuss their qualifications for the program. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 867-6638 or at the Academic Fair, May 14, 2008. Qualified students will be admitted until the program fills.
Major areas of study include cultural studies, history, sociology and social science academic writing.
Class Standing: Juniors or seniors; transfer students welcome.
This junior-senior level one-quarter program explores the origins and manifestations of the contested concept "race." The program analyzes a racialized history of the United States in relation to dominant discourses of popular culture, science, psychology, health care, law, citizenship, education, and personal/public identity. By making historical connections between European colonialism and the expansion of U.S. political and military dominance in an era of globalization, students will have opportunities to investigate how the bodies of various populations have been racialized. Students will also examine related contemporary concepts such as racism, prejudice, discrimination, gender, class, affirmative action, white privilege, and color blindness. Faculty will expose students to current research and racialized commentaries that surround debates on genetics vs. culture (i.e., nature vs. nurture).
Students will also engage race through readings, dialogue in seminars, films, and academic writing that integrate program materials. A goal of the program is for students to recognize contemporary expressions of race by what we hear, see, and read as well as absences and silences that we find. These expressions include contemporary news accounts and popular culture artifacts (e.g., music, television, cinema, magazines). As part of this inquiry, we will examine the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama in relation to discourses on race. As a learning community we will work together to make sense of these expressions and link them to their historical origins.
A significant portion of the program will be devoted to student research projects based on the work of sociologist James Loewen and his extensive study of racially segregated communities. As part of their research students will learn how to gather and interpret census data and access the history of local communities and their surrounding area.
Students will also have an opportunity to examine the social formation of their own racial identities through their own personal narratives. Current approaches from social psychology will be foundational in the autoethnographical aspect of the program. Additionally, what it can mean to be an anti-racist in a racialized society is also investigated.
Faculty signature required to enroll in this program.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Special Expenses: $10 for copying and binding of selected articles
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in careers and future studies in medicine/health, education, government, law, history, political science, cultural studies, sociology and media studies.
Planning Units: Society, Politics, Behavior and Change