2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Political Economy and Social Movements: Race, Class, and Gender

Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Michael Vavrus education, history, political economy , Peter Bohmer economics, political economy
Fields of Study
American studies, cultural studies, economics, gender and women's studies, government, history, political economy, political science and sociology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
political science, economics, education, labor and community organizing, law and international solidarity.

We will examine the nature, development and concrete workings of modern capitalism and the interrelationship of race, class and gender in historical and contemporary contexts. Recurring themes will be the relationship among oppression, exploitation, social movements, reform and fundamental change, and the construction of alternatives to capitalism, nationally and globally. We will examine how social change has occurred in the past, present trends, and alternatives for the future. We will also examine different theoretical frameworks such as liberalism, Marxism, feminism, anarchism and neoclassical economics, and their explanations of the current U.S. and global political economy and key issues such as education, the media and the criminal justice system. Students will learn communication skills related to public debate and social change.

In fall, the U.S. experience will be the central focus, whereas winter quarter will have a global focus. We will begin with the colonization of the U.S., and the material and ideological foundations of the U.S. political economy from the 18th century to the present. We will explore specific issues including the slave trade, racial, gender and economic inequality, the labor movement and the western push to "American Empire." We will carefully examine the linkages from the past to the present between the economic core of capitalism, political and social structures, and gender, race and class relations. Resistance will be a central theme. We will study microeconomics principles from a neoclassical and political economy perspective. Within microeconomics, we will study topics such as the structure and failure of markets, work and wages, poverty, and the gender and racial division of labor.

In winter, we will examine the interrelationship between the U.S. political economy and the changing global system, and U.S. foreign policy. We will study causes and consequences of the globalization of capital and its effects in our daily lives, international migration, the role of multilateral institutions and the meaning of trade agreements and regional organizations. This program will analyze the response of societies such as Venezuela and Bolivia and social movements such as labor, feminist, anti-war, environmental, indigenous and youth in the U.S. and internationally in opposing the global order. We will look at alternatives to neoliberal capitalism including socialism, participatory economies and community-based economies and strategies for social change. We will study macroeconomics, including causes and solutions to the high rates of unemployment and to economic instability. We will introduce competing theories of international trade and finance and examine their applicability in the global South and North. In winter quarter, as part of the 16 credits, there will be an optional internship for up to four credits in organizations and groups whose activities are closely related to the themes of this program or the opportunity to write a research paper on a relevant political economy topic.

Students will engage the material through seminars, lectures, films, workshops, seminar response papers, synthesis papers based on program material and concepts, and take-home economics examinations.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
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Offered During