Current Economic and Social Issues: Explanations, Actions and Solutions


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

economics, political economy

The outcome of current social and economic problems will shape the future for us all. This program focuses on analyzing these problems and developing skills to contribute to debates and effective action in the public sphere. We will address major contemporary issues such as national and global poverty and economic inequality, immigration, incarceration, climate change, and war. U.S. economic and social problems will be placed in a global context. We will draw on sociology, political science, economics and political economy for our analysis, with particular attention to dimensions of class, race, gender, and global inequalities.

We will analyze the mainstream and alternative media coverage of current issues and of the social movements dealing with them. We will build our analyses using data-driven descriptions, narratives of those directly affected, and theories that place issues in larger social and historical contexts. Students will be introduced to competing theoretical frameworks for explaining the causes of social problems and their potential solutions (frameworks such as neoclassical economics, liberalism, Marxism, feminism, and anarchism). We will study how social movements have actively addressed the problems and investigate their short- and long-term proposals and solutions as well as how they would be addressed in alternative economic and social systems.

We will choose the specific issues to be investigated in the program as spring 2014 approaches, so that our study will be as relevant as possible. For each topic examined, we will combine readings with lectures, films, and workshops, along with guest speakers and possible field trips as appropriate to observe problems and responses first hand.

Students will write short papers on each of the social problems we analyze. In addition, you will study in more depth and report on one of the economic or social issues we are studying.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

education, labor, community organizing, social sciences, poliitcal economy, sociiology, global justice work.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

May be offered again in

Spring 2015


Date Revision
May 29th, 2013 New opportunity added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Sophomore; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 20


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30340
So (16 credits): 30341

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