Fall 2009 Stories
Class Themes in Theme-based Classes
Investigating Socioeconomic Class and its Impacts
Nancy Anderson, Doug Schuler, Sarah Ryan and Allen Mauney
This fall and winter, two programs in the evening and weekend curriculum at Evergreen will be investigating socio-economic class and the impacts that class differences can have. In the first program, Class in the U.S., students will use the tools of sociology and statistics to look at social class and its connections to other topics, such as race and gender. The second program, Public Thinking and Public Health, examines the relationship between civic engagement and the attainment of social health and wellbeing.
The interdisciplinary approach of both programs is supported by a faculty team. Allen Mauney, a mathematician, and Sarah Ryan, who focuses on labor studies, will teach Class in the U.S. The program Public Thinking and Public Health brings together faculty members Nancy Anderson, a board certified pediatrician and public health professional interested in issues of health equity, and Doug Schuler, who has worked for years on issues of society and computing. The two together “create a broad knowledge base that includes a recognition of the overwhelming health problems faced by the world today and the tools and strategies than can be used to confront these issues,” Anderson notes.
Both of these classes meet fall quarter and continue to build on what they’ve learned by meeting through winter quarter. Team-taught, multi-quarter programs are a distinctive part of Evergreen’s educational approach. “The program structure promotes a holistic view of a given field or issue,” Schuler says. “When students invest the time and energy in a program, they are more likely to gain richer practical and theoretical perspectives that I believe will provide both useful knowledge for everyday life and broader, more philosophical knowledge that will help sustain their intellectual curiosity and encourage their informed and engaged citizenship over the course of their lives.”
The opportunities to explore the mixture of interests which develop within the learning community is another hallmark of Evergreen’s programs. “Class is a touchy subject in the U.S.,” Ryan says. “But economic inequality is now as extreme as it was before the Great Depression. We owe it to ourselves to figure out if the stratifications in our country have hard boundaries. If there are classes, is it just a matter of money? Or are there cultural aspects to this?”
This “figure it out” approach is also a strong driver in the Public Thinking and Public Health program. “Students who participate in this program will understand the necessity of civic engagement in the confrontation of the major challenges of the 21st century and will be able to use what they learn to become and remain engaged citizens,” Anderson says.
Interdisciplinary classes based on themes... themes based on class... it’s all a part of the experience at Evergreen, and it’s available in the evenings and on weekends.