Current Economic and Social Issues: Explanations, Actions and Solutions


Spring 2015 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 poverty and economic inequality, immigration, sexual violence, incarceration, climate change, and war on a global and national level. We will draw on political science, economics and political economy, sociology, and communication studies for our analysis, with particular attention to dimensions of class, race, gender, and global inequalities.

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 and perspectives 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. We will also examine how alternative economic and social systems address these issues.

Through critical analysis of media representations of current issues, students will learn to create alternative representations in the form of radio broadcasts or podcasts. Students will learn basic recording, editing, writing, and performance skills needed for audio interviews, commentaries, and documentaries.

We will choose the specific issues to be addressed in the program as spring 2015 approaches, so that our study will be as relevant as possible. For each topic studied, we will combine readings with lectures, films, and workshops, along with guest speakers and field trips as appropriate to observe problems and responses first hand.

Students will write short papers on each of the social and economic issues we are analyzing. You will also in groups examine in more depth and report on one of these areas. 

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

teaching, labor organizing, community organizing, human rights work, global justice, media, social work, study in political economy, economics, communication, media, sociology, and social sciences.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

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


Date Revision
February 12th, 2015 This program will now accept Sophomores.
January 16th, 2014 New spring opportunity

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

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

Maximum enrollment: 23


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30087
So (16 credits): 30393

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