Camille L Walsh
Various topics designed to respond to faculty and student interests and needs.
This course, "Hard Times: Poverty, Policy and Protest in Economic Downturns," will use multidisciplinary perspectives to look at the myriad issues that become especially central in tough economic climates. Using several examples from the two major 20th and 21st century depressions and recessions in the U.S., we will focus on the ongoing global recession in order to ask these key questions: 1) What kind of historical parallels or lessons can we derive from comparing the Great Depression to the current economic crash? 2) What legal issues become crucial during recessions and how are courts and legislatures responding? 3) What policy proposals could be made to address the hardest hit areas and the populations most impacted by economic difficulties? 4) How are poor and low-income populations either marginalized or “discovered" by media, art and literature during hard times? 5) How do different people adjust to and cope with the recession? 6) What kinds of social movements emerge and respond to economic downturns?
Student learning goals
Understand how to locate, situate and interpret information about economic crises in the past and present from various sources
Critically analyze documents and formulate arguments that position them within the major discussions in the field
Synthesize multiple pieces of information about social movement theory, economic and demographic data, and legal and policy debates into a broad and comparative analysis
Clearly communicate multiple kinds of arguments and proposals on major political questions by utilizing different formats
Understand key problems and points of legal and policy debate during economic downturns and effectively communicate these ideas in both verbal and written form
Work with other students to develop strategies, understand important debates and generate active participation in team-teaching presentations
General method of instruction
We will draw on policy debates, film, photography, law, history, memoir, poetry, music, news media, fiction and sociology for our readings and class discussions. Class will be largely taught in seminar and discussion format, with some framing lectures to illustrate and define key events, issues and concepts.
No prerequisites necessary.
Class assignments and grading
Class projects will include an interview and oral history project, two shorter context papers, social media participation and a protest project. Each project will allow students to focus on an area, event, issue or person (including friends or family members) that they identify in connection with the course themes.
Participation and completion of the different steps toward each small project will be credited, along with evaluation of the level to which each assignment engages with the goals and materials of the course.