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First-Year Course

The Problems of Race in U.S. Social Thought and Policy

Karin Aguilar-San Juan, American Studies

In this discussion-based and residential course, we will explore the hypothesis that 21st century racism has morphed from simple and evil formulations of bigotry and exploitation into decentralized and seemingly benign systems of cultural camouflage and ideological control. We will focus particularly on the ways that “structural” inequalities inform complex racial formations, and consequently, individual life chances. We will consider the idea that racism involves a “hidden curriculum” that is promoted by well-intentioned and highly educated people. Our interdisciplinary and integrative approach will employ multiple methods of inquiry and expression, including: self-reflective essays and maps; a scavenger hunt in the Twin Cities; library research; and deep, critical analysis of arguments about race/ethnicity/assimilation/multiculturalism. We will hone writing and speaking skills through highly structured assignments paired with open-ended conversations in order to discover the questions that truly matter to each of us.

Class meets MWF, 1:10-2:10pm in Neil 217.