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POLS 235

Equality and Justice

This course will investigate multiple dimensions of equality and justice through a broad exploration of classical, modern, and contemporary political theory. Some of the questions raised by this course will include, does an abstract principle of equality necessarily lead to just outcomes? How do political societies negotiate between multiple and competing claims of justice? What role does power and privilege play in these debates? We will begin by reading some of the core thinkers in political theory, such as Locke and Rousseau, and critically analyze their ideas. We will then expand our scope by examining three key areas: feminism, gender, and sexuality; race, power, and privilege, and finally conclude by turning to an exploration of the possibility of achieving justice for historic political inequality. Doing so will allow us to not only broaden the conversation by including a multiplicity of voices, but it will also allow us to theorize what a politics of difference might actually entail. In each of these areas, we will cover a range of thinkers throughout history. In the women, gender, and sexuality section, we will read a wide array of thinkers such as Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, bell hooks, and Judith Butler, among others, to examine the struggle for women's rights from the suffragist movement, to black feminism, to the queering of politics. In the race, power, and privilege section, we will start with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and their contrasting (but also complementary) views on the civil rights struggle, read the poetic work of James Baldwin, and then explore in depth Michelle Alexander's work on 'The New Jim Crow' that will allow us to think deeply about race in contemporary America. Finally, in the concluding section, we will take a step back and look broadly at a wide range of solutions for coming to terms with the presence of past trauma and histories of injustice, from truth commissions to communal trials to archives of memory.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Science- or -Privilege, Power And Diversity 1 course