Human and Civil Rights-Related Courses for Undergraduates


The following is a semester-specific overview of course offerings across departments, majors, and undergraduate colleges at Notre Dame. The courses listed below vary in the time dedicated to core human and civil rights. A number of courses focus primarily on the human and civil rights fields; others engage interpretations of human and civil rights through the lenses of democracy, gender and sexuality, inequality, and similar themes.

Spring 2017 Human and Civil Rights-Related Undergraduate Courses


Introduction to Social Problems

Erika Summers-Effler

Analysis of selected problems in American society such as crime, narcotic addiction, alcoholism, delinquency, racial and ethnic conflict, prostitution, and others. Discussions, debates, films, tapes, and readings.

29651   Hesburgh Program in Public Service 20220
22899   Sociology   20033
24404   Education, School and Society  20203
24757   Africana Studies 20703


Inner City America: Decoding

William, Carbonaro

Most Americans think of the "inner city" as a place of misery, danger, and despair. Why do most American cities have racially segregated areas dominated by concentrated poverty? What are the lives of inner city residents like? Why do the legal, political, economic, and educational institutions that serve these communities struggle so mightily to improve the lives of inner city residents? In this course, we will address all of these questions by viewing all five seasons of The Wire, David Simon's epic tale of life in inner city Baltimore. Sociological theory and research will serve as powerful tools to help students "decode" The Wire, and better understand of the social forces that create and sustain inner city poverty, violence, and disorder.

27213             Africana Studies   20706
26532            Sociology 20870
26718            American Studies          30518
27067            Sociology   20870 
29692            Education, School and Society      20210


Power, Privilege and Oppression

Outlaw, Iris

This eight-week class is designed to educate students on systems of power, privilege and oppression. Participants learn the definitions of, historical/current paradigm of, and causes/effects of white privilege. The goal for each participant is personal transformation: to leave the class more aware of injustices and better equipped with tools to disrupt personal, institutional, and worldwide systems of oppression. The nature of living in contemporary culture indicates that people consciously and unconsciously simultaneously participate in and are affected by systems of oppression; however, since these behaviors can be learned, they can also be unlearned. Please note: Class meetings will run 2 hours each session, all students are required to submit a proposal for the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement Conference. Class meeting dates in 2017: February 21, 28; March 7, 21, 28 & April 4, 11, 18.

29956      Africana Studies 23704
30108      Sociology   25851


Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity in Latin America

Graubart, Karen

This seminar examines the historical production of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity in the Latin American context. We will begin with the creation of "Indians" by European colonists, who attempted to erase social differentiation in the peoples they conquered but then had to deal with the consequences of early forms of resistance and solidarity. We will then investigate the degree to which race and ethnicity were important concepts to non-Europeans in the colonial context, and the beginnings of scientific racism in the Americas. Slavery, especially in Brazil and the Caribbean, obviously added another dimension to social differentiation and the development of racial thinking, which we will investigate. The second half of the course will address contemporary issues that stem from these colonial concerns: nationalism, the romantic invocation of the indigenous past, cultural practices, land rights, political representation, and racism.

26711    Africana Studies   30284 
26938    History   30905
27365    Latin American Studies  30222


Lives Pursued on the Margins: Women in the American Civil Rights Movement

Greene, Stuart

This course explores the roles that women played in building capacity, community, and agency in a grassroots movement that advanced civil and human rights. We will focus on Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, and Ella Baker, among others, and examine the role that domestic workers played to advance a movement that challenged racial hierarchies. Less visible, but no less important, were women who owned hair salons and used their independent businesses to create change. Examining the grassroots movement will provide a lens through which to understand the extent to which leadership occurred in expected places and offers a more robust model of leadership than the one presented in dominant narratives about the civil rights movement.

26714     Africana Studies 40703
26720     American Studies          30905
26952     Education, School and Society      40302
27300     Gender Studies   40518
27356      Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies   40920
27430      Constitutional Studies            30409
27725      English        40816


Rich, Poor, and War

Whitmore, Todd

This course examines the interrelationships between economic injustice and violence. It begins by investigating the gap between rich and poor both in the US and worldwide. We also look at the history of Christian thought on wealth and poverty. We then address the ways in which economic disparity intersects with the problem of violence in both domestic (violence against women) and political realms (war and revolution). Next, we canvass Christian thought on the use of violence. This raises the question of whether Christianity itself contributes more to violence or to peace. Finally, we pose the question of whether forgiveness for violence is advisable or feasible.

24338            Theology    20619
24415            Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies   20701
24446            Hesburgh Prg in Public Service      20211
24501            Theology    20619
24985            Internatnl Development Studies    20653
22040            Center for Social Concerns   33967
22664            Catholic Social Tradition       33967
24068            Latino Studies     33967


Restorative Justice Theory and Practice

Sharpe, Susan

Restorative justice is gaining visibility in contemporary social justice efforts. Advocates of change—ranging from parents to police, from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to the cofounders of Black Lives Matter—are claiming restorative justice as an important way forward in making our institutions more just and more effective. This course will give students an understanding of how and why that potential exists, and teach them the basics of a primary restorative justice practice. Students will learn the fundamentals of Circle dialogue, situating it in the context of relevant theoretic frameworks and in the context of key restorative justice applications (including criminal justice, education, and systemic injustice). Students will be encouraged to search for potential applications of restorative justice theory and practice in the professional fields they anticipate entering. This will be a community-based learning course, requiring each student to perform 20 hours of work in the local community at pre-arranged sites as part of the course, in addition to regular reading and writing assignments.

27358            Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies   63205
27743            Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies   50703
30060            Hesburgh Prg in Public Service      33101
27262            Center for Social Concerns Seminar  33972


Prison Writing: Explorations of Freedom from the Inside Out

McCarthy, Sheila; Brandenberger, Jay; Hebbeler, Michael; Sharpe, Susan

27264            Center for Social Concerns   33974 
27927            Sociology   33074


Topics in Civil Liberties/Civil Rights

Hall, Matthew

This course explores topics in American constitutional law related to civil liberties and civil rights. The course employs a variety of instructional methods including Socratic method lectures, class debates, and moot court exercises in which students play the role of lawyers and justices arguing a Supreme Court case. Students will explore the social and political struggles that have shaped freedom and equality in the United States, including debates over protest, hate speech, pornography, religious freedom, gun control, abortion, race, gender, and homosexuality.

30253            Constitutional Studies   30006
30059            Hesburgh Prg in Public Service    30626 
30275            Political Science 30068


Sociology of War and Terror

Faeges, Russell

This course offers a broad introduction to the sociology of wars, terror, and communal violence, including their causes, conduct, and consequences. We will consider the basic social forces which impel people to kill and to risk death in the name of their societies, including the relationship of violence to "human nature." We will survey the manifold characteristics of societies that contribute to and are affected by war and terror: politics; economics; religion; culture; demographics; the environment; gender; race, ethnicity, and nationalism; social movements; and social psychology. We will survey the scope of war and terror throughout social history and pre-history, but will give special attention to the security dilemmas confronting American society. And we will consider alternatives to war and terror and the prospects for transcending the communal violence that has been so much a part of social life for millennia. The format of the course combines lectures, presentations, and discussions. We will draw on both written and visual materials of several kinds. Grades will be based on examinations, brief written work, and participation. (This course requires no background in sociology. It is open to any student, regardless of major, who is concerned about the occurrence of armed conflict in social life.) This course bears the ALSS attribute.

30057            Hesburgh Prg in Public Service      20224
23897            Sociology   20541
24335            Sociology   20541
25316            Science, Technology and Values   20341
25527            Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies   20910


War and World Order

Sihn, Ji Hye

Why do countries such as Russia and China frequently become embroiled in disputes with neighboring states? How did Europe go from one of the world’s most volatile regions to the most stable and highly integrated? Will America's political and military predominance continue in the coming decades? Armed conflicts between nations occur most often amongst geographically proximate states, and from these conflicts arise new international and regional orders. This course will examine the roots of major historical and modern wars since the dawn of the twentieth century and the evolution of international and regional orders borne out of them. We will begin with a broad overview of International Relations theories on the causes of interstate war. We will then delve into select cases of interstate armed conflict (including World Wars I and II) in different geographical regions, including Western Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, for empirical evidence. Concurrently, we will trace the rise of American hegemony and its modern grand strategic thinking. In particular, we will explore how various regional and international institutions have been used to constrain aggression, promote cooperation, and build new world orders.

30113            Inst. for Int’l Peace Studies   30574
30276            Political Science 30367


International Migration: Mexico/US II

Bustamante, Jorge

This course addresses relations between theory and methods for scientific research on international migration with emphasis on immigration to the US; the objective is to prepare students to design research projects on this subject for theses and dissertations. The course will review basic questions on this subject and the methods through which these questions have been adequately or inadequately answered; the numbers, the impact, the nature, the structure, the process, the human experience, will be discussed in terms of the research methods commonly used to approach them.

21804            Inst. for Int’l Peace Studies   40905
21805            Latino Studies     40700
21812            Sociology   43404
23655            Latin American Studies          43555


Unequal America

Carbonaro, William

Although America is world's richest nation, it has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income in the industrialized world. In this course, we will examine why this is so. In particular, we will examine the following questions: What social forces create inequality in society? Is inequality inevitable? Is there such a thing as "social class"? Who gets ahead and why? Why is race/ethnicity and gender still related to social status, wealth, and income? Does America have a "ruling elite?" Who are "the poor" and what explains their poverty? Are there social policies that can create more equality in American society -- and is that what Americans really want?

29696            Education, Schooling, and Society          40210
29335            Sociology   43839
29462            Africana Studies 43706
29468            American Studies          30516
29657            Hesburgh Prg in Public Service      43524


United Nations Global Compact

Williams, Oliver

In today's interconnected global economy, there is a growing realization that we must restore public trust in business. Integrating environmental, social and governance issues into corporate management is the overriding purpose of the United Nations Global Compact and its ten principles. This is the heart of the corporate sustainability movement and an effective way to restore trust in business. Take one look at the smog that hangs over the former Olympic host city Beijing and it becomes abundantly clear—globalization and economic expansion come at a price. Resource depletion, worker exploitation, pollution and corruption—this is the dark underbelly of globalization that has raised alarm bells around the world. Thankfully, more and more individuals and organizations are waking up to the social, environmental and ethical costs of a global marketplace and are making a sound business case for a new era of moral capitalism. Leading the way in this regard is the United Nations with its groundbreaking Global Compact initiative. Launched in 2000, the Global Compact now has more than 10,000 participants—including 7,000 businesses in 140 countries around the world—making it the world's largest voluntary corporate social responsibility project. OBJECTIVES 1. To introduce the student to the United National Global Compact and why its focus on human rights, labor rights, environmental issues and corruption is so attractive to the many stakeholders of business. 2. To develop the ability to think clearly about how one integrates environmental, social and governance issues into corporate management. 3. To develop a sensitivity to the moral and ethical values that enable companies to restore public trust in business. 4. To understand how a number of companies are implementing the principles of the Global Compact by examining case studies. 5. To examine and understand the changing role of business in society.

25513 MBA Business Ethics   70510


Introduction to International Relations

Rosato, Susan

This course provides an introduction to the study of international relations and will cover several theoretical approaches to and empirical issues in the field of IR. Readings have been selected to highlight both traditional approaches to and more recent developments in world politics. The first half of the course focuses on contending theories of IR, while the second half of the course deals with more substantive issues. Empirical topics and subjects covered include: international security (nuclear weapons, ethnic conflict, and terrorism); international political economy (trade, international finance, and globalization); and 20th Century History (WWI, WWII, and the Cold War). In addition, we will examine several contemporary topics in international organization and law, including the environment, non-governmental organizations, and human rights. We conclude by discussing the future of international relations in the 21st Century.

21574            Inst. for Int’l Peace Studies   20501
21575            Political Science 20200
23048            Political Science 10200


Healthcare and the Poor

Betson, David

The relationship between health and poverty is complex and challenging. The inability of the poor to maintain adequate nutrition, shelter and have access to preventative medical care can contribute to their poor health status. But even if one isn’t poor, one illness or hospitalization can test their ability to meet both their ability to meet the financial burden of their medical care as well as their other needs. In either case, individuals have to face difficult choices between their health and other material needs. This course examines the consequences of the health risks the poor face and the difficulties that they have in obtaining medical care whether they are uninsured, seek “charitable” care, or utilize public programs such as Medicaid. The course will also examine the impact of the Affordable Care Act that will require all individuals to have at least a minimal level of health care coverage.

29653    Hesburgh Prg in Public Service   30307
24990 Science, Technology and Values 43343
24771 Poverty Studies 33100
24951 Political Science 30157


African-American Resistance

Pierce, Richard

Through a close examination of twelve historical events, we will study African-American resistance in the United States from the 17th century through the 20th century. We will employ a case-study method and seek to categorize and characterize the wide variety of African-American resistance. Our study will include the politics of confrontation and civil disobedience, polarization of arts, transformation of race relations, the tragedies and triumphs of Reconstruction, interracial violence, black political and institutional responses to racism and violence, the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, blues, and the civil rights and black power movements. Students will be confronted with conflicting bodies of evidence and challenged to analyze these issues and arrive at conclusions. Music and film will supplement classroom discussions.

29148    Africana Studies               40710
29158 American Studies 40326
30063 Hesburgh Prg in Public Service 40106
30338 Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies 40919


Latinos in the Future of America

Fraga, Luis

This course will examine the opportunities and challenges facing Latino communities today as they simultaneously transform and are transformed by their continuing growth in U.S. society. Through a careful examination of the biographies of leaders in Latino communities, we will examine what role they have each played in empowering Latino communities to advance in business, arts, education, community organizing, entertainment, medicine, religion, law, academia, politics, and other areas. The course will coincide with the Transformative Latino Leadership Speaker Series sponsored by the Arthur Foundation through the Institute for Latino Studies. Students in the class will have the opportunity to interact with invited leaders in several setting including the classroom, meals, receptions, and university-wide events. The primary course requirement is a research essay about the life and career of a chosen leader.

27227    American Studies             30463
26067 Latino Studies 43501
27446 Political Science 30136
29658 Hesburgh Prg in Public Service 43889


Latinos in American Society

Chavez, Alex

This course will examine the Latino experience in the United States, including the historical, cultural, and political foundations of Latino life. We will approach these topics comparatively, thus attention will be given to the various experiences of a multiplicity of Latino groups in the United States.

25260    Africana Studies               20781
25263 American Studies 30460
25278 Latino Studies 20701
25990 Anthropology 20701


Animal Encounters

Porter, Natalie

How do animals relate to non-human animals across cultures? Does culture make a difference in how humans relate to animals and the natural world? What are the roles that animals play in different societies - as food, as religious figures, as companions, as kin, as laborers? From its origins as a discipline, anthropology has examined human-animal relations in a variety of social and geographic settings. This course will review some of the classic examples of cross-cultural relations with animals, and bring these examples into conversation with current debates about race and classification, animal ethics, biotechnology, and food politics. Students will engage with texts, films, and other media from anthropology as well as philosophy, history, and feminist science studies. We will approach these materials from an anthropological perspective that focuses on how our diverse and dynamic expressions of identity and culture shape, and are shaped by, how we engage with other species - whether as beings to think with, live with, love, kill, and/or consume.

29167    Anthropology    33302
29179 Anthropology 63315
29821 Science, Technology and Values 33302


Police Cultures

Haanstad, Eric

In breaking headlines, news feeds, television dramas and embattled cities, police are defended as a protective necessity and denounced as a social problem. This paradox of police can be approached anthropologically by investigating the interaction between different cultures of police throughout the world and the role of police in different cultures. Since nation-states are continually defined by their capacity for the legitimate use of force within their borders, police cultures are an evocative lens to examine the interplay of state security and cultural order. Police and social order are entwined in the cultural contexts of the regions where they historically emerge. In addition to examining US and European police contexts, this course also highlights the region of Southeast Asia, from the Thai and Filipino police forces "professionalized" by the United States, to the Burmese military government's contemporary transformations, to the ongoing state consolidations in Cambodia. An understanding of local and transnational social control is critical to the understanding police cultures whether looking at the history of colonialism through the development of local constabularies or international campaigns against crime, drugs, and terrorism. In this course, we will identify global patterns of police practice, while exploring the occupational worldviews of local police cultures. Examining these cross-cultural zones of police practice will promote a greater understanding of security, violence, race, media, and a myriad of other phenomena illuminated through the "police" concept.

(CRN 29196) CSEM 23102 - Section 31 and 32


Caribbean Diasporas

Richman, Karen

This course examines the development of Creole societies in the French, Spanish, Dutch, and British Caribbean in response to colonialism, slavery, migration, nationalism and, most recently, transnationalism. The recent exodus of as much as 20 percent of Caribbean populations to North America and Europe has afforded the rise of new transnational modes of existence. This course will explore the consciousness and experience of Caribbean diasporas through ethnography and history, religion, literature, music, and culinary arts.

30079    History  30933
24758 Africana Studies 30775
24759 American Studies 30609
24766 Anthropology 30013
24791 Latin American Studies 30654
24922 Latino Studies 30101
29726 Internatnl Development Studies 30270
30022 English 40819
30291 Spanish 30101


Social Concerns Seminar: Organizing Power and Hope

Caponigro, Jay

This seminar focuses on diverse church, school, leadership, and community-organizing initiatives to improve life in Chicago neighborhoods. Participants will be challenged to examine perceptions of power, service and social action. COMMENTS: Must apply online via the Center for Social Concerns website:

21052 Theology 33965
22039 Center for Social Concerns 33965
22665    Catholic Social Tradition 33965


Violence and Virtues

Kissel, Marc; Willows, Adam

What does it mean to be human? This question is of deep interest to both anthropologists and theologians. How can the human evolutionary record or ancient thinkers and texts inform on questions that people living in the 21st century care about? Can our history tell us anything about modern debates on racism, sexism, and other issues of social justice? How do we begin to think about warfare, bioethics or the future of our species? This class will approach these questions from both an anthropological and theological perspective. We will dive deep into the origins of our species and examine questions such as are we prone to violence, when did social inequalities arise, and what explains modern human variation. We will engage with theological thought on distinctive human nature, and what this tells us about both our current society and how we set goals for living well. Using modern work from both disciplines, you will learn how to think and reason from different perspectives on key topics and use them to inform your opinions and views on human social organization.

29968    Africana Studies               43781
29169 Anthropology 43111
30106 Science, Technology and Values 43226
30354 Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies 43910


Prisons and Policing

Butler, Pamela

Scholars and activists use the concept of the “carceral state” to describe the official, government use of policing, surveillance, and mass imprisonment to exercise control over society. This course examines the histories, cultures, politics, and economics of prisons and policing in the United States, in order to determine how the U.S. carceral state has been a factor in the social construction of race, gender, and citizenship. We will study the genealogy of the U.S. carceral state -- beginning with the surveillance embedded in the earliest practices of slavery and settler colonialism, tracing its development through the 19th and early 20th centuries, and concluding with the rise of the modern prison industrial complex. We will then focus on contemporary U.S. prisons, policing, and surveillance, using case studies including the “war on drugs,” immigrant detention, sex-crime regulation, and police violence. Finally, we will consider alternatives to prisons and policing, as we learn about academic research and activist movements working to end state and police violence, abolish prisons, and create opportunities for restorative justice. Over the course of the semester, students will learn about the historical development and ongoing maintenance of the carceral state, using an intersectional framework that highlights the ways in which prisons and policing have both shaped, and been shaped by, race, gender, citizenship, and economics. Along the way, students will ask and address such questions as: How does the U.S. carceral state function as a tool for social control? What histories, policies, and ideologies underlie the carceral state? How have individuals and organizations worked to transform or abolish the carceral state? How have art and cultural production been used to normalize and/or critique the carceral state? And can we imagine a world without prisons or police?

29469    Prisons and Policing in the US     30761
29632 Gender Studies 40522
29640 Gender Studies 60522
30061 Hesburgh Prg in Public Service 40104
30077 History 30861
30271 Constitutional Studies 40404
30336 Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies 40921
30337 Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies 60223


Migrant Experiences

The goal of the Migrant Seminar is to introduce students to the cultural and social issues surrounding migrant farm labor through experiential learning. Such learning creates a strong foundation of knowledge through direct participation, allowing the development of relationships capable of revealing the diversity, culture, and life challenges of migrant farm workers. Exploration into the plight of migrant farm workers begins in the mandatory preparatory class sessions involving presentations, discussions, videos, and selected readings. The Seminar centers on a week-long trip to Immokalee, Florida during the semester break. COMMENTS:Apply online via the Center for Social Concerns website:

20283    Theology             33967
22040 Center for Social Concerns 33967
22664 Catholic Social Tradition 33967
24068 Latino Studies 33967


Advocacy for the Common Good

Hebbeler, Michael

Advocacy for the Common Good is a one credit course that aims to develop a shared understanding of advocacy and the common good, cultivating basic skills to help strengthen students' respective advocacy planning and action in pursuit of social justice. This course will be co-facilitated by seasoned advocates and organizers from Catholic Relief Services. The day and a half workshop (in January) will introduce students to advocacy tools and skills, including mapping power, navigating the legislative process, mobilizing, developing effective messaging and influencing decision makers. Students will then have ten weeks to form into groups to research and implement advocacy campaigns on their respective issues of interest.

24972  Center for Social Concerns  33900
26050  Inst. for Int'l Peace Studies  33202


Education on the Margins

CRN: 21840; McKenna, Maria

The American educational enterprise is a central facet of the foundation and progress of the United States. This course will explore one fundamental question: What are the implications (past, present, and future) of being a minority in the context of the American education system? Clearly, not all minority experiences within American education are the same.  To this end, we explore various societal influences on American education and examine the historical, political, and sociocultural contexts of different minority groups and geographic areas of the country.  We work with an eye towards the implications these contexts have on modern education policy and practice. To focus our study, we will pay close attention to the African American experience given the particularly significant role this minority group plays in the history of American education.  We will also look closely at the impact of the growing Hispanic/Latino/a population in the United States on American education.   Remaining true to the purpose and format of the College Seminar, we will explore different “texts” (literature, art, music, film, non-fiction) in a primarily oral fashion. Students can expect a greater than average reading load.



CRN: 24767; Joshua, Essaka

This course investigates the cultural meanings attached to extraordinary bodies and minds. Cultural and literary scholarship has extensively explored issues connected with identities derived from race, gender and sexuality. Only recently have concepts of bodily identity, impairment, stigma, monstrosity, marginalization, beauty, deviance, and difference begun to cohere around disability as a concept. Discussions of these issues are now part of a discipline called Disability Studies. We will cover topics such as human rights, feminism, medical attitudes, social stigma, normalcy, life narratives, pedagogy, bodily representation, mental impairment, the politics of charity, community and collective culture, the built environment, and empowerment, in a range of disciplines including literary studies, film, theology, audio-description, photography, and drama. The course has a service-learning component: as part of the assessment, students will take part in a local community placement at LOGAN Center in South Bend. Minimum Logan Center volunteer hours: 5 for the whole semester.


Identity, Conflict & Reconciliation

CRN: 24770; Weigert, Andrew

Identity divides and unites people.  It is part of the dynamics that fuse us into groups; that sometimes legitimate violence; and that at times, paradoxically, lead to reconciliation.  This Learning Community will discuss materials concerning how identity enters such dynamics.  The aim is understanding how identities motivate us and are sometimes manipulated by powerful others, and how we may be moved by such self-understandings toward greater inclusiveness, especially toward others who are not like us. Possible Readings:  Turnbull, The Forest People; Achebe, When Things Fall Apart; Maalouf, In the Name of Identity; Lederach, The Moral Imagination;  E-Reserve materials. Activities:  thematic class tour in Snite Museum; each student is responsible for conducting two ungraded student sessions (ca. 8 minutes each) on issues of her or his choice within the thematic framework of the class. Grading:  two short papers (15pts each); class participation (35pts); final oral exam (35pts).


Culture and Politics

CRN: 29198; Hui, Victoria

How do we understand violent and nonviolent political struggles in the name of religion? This course examines political struggles through the lenses of major world civilizations and religions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Does culture shape the contours of political struggles? What should we make of religious justifications for political violence? Does religion explain nonviolent as well as violent resistance? Do political struggles follow universal trends or culturally specific patterns? This course explores these fundamental questions through key biographies and memoirs, supplemented by scholarly analyses and films.


The Past and Futures of Indigenous Peoples

CRN: 21837; Walls, Robert

What does it mean to be an indigenous person in today’s globally interconnected world?  While some native peoples are thriving—especially in North America—many others remain vulnerable to national agendas, the world economy, and environmental disturbances. The loss of ancestral languages, lands, religious traditions, means of subsistence, and even human remains continues to threaten the rights, dignity, and cultural survival of entire indigenous societies. This course will examine the history of native peoples as they struggled against colonialism, forced assimilation, and racial discrimination. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how representations of native lives—through photography, film, literature, museums, and ethnography—continue to shape political and social relationships with the powers that surround them.  Most importantly, we will listen to indigenous voices themselves and to expressions of indigeneity in politics, autobiography, art, digital media, science, and religion, and how they serve as commentary on the challenges of the present and the future: the legacy of genocide; the cultural impact and economic potential of tourism; threatened intellectual property rights over medicines and music; the decline of traditional foods and related health concerns; the evolving status and rights of women; and the role that both individuals and powerful outside institutions (e.g., anthropologists, activists, state governments, the United Nations, Christian churches) may play in the struggle for survival and self-determination.


Constructing a Good, Sustainable Life

CRN: 24348; Darcia Narvaez

What is a good life, one that is sustainable and wise? Students explore this issue and test out what they think and how they will live. Students will practice approaches from positive psychology and character development research. The class will test factors found to lead to greater flourishing (e.g., mindfulness, emotional intelligence, play, gratitude). Readings also will be drawn from anthropology, indigenous scholarship, literature, philosophy and Catholic social teaching. Field trips will include outdoor experiences (Fernwood Botanical Garden, Farmer’s Market) and experiencing the arts (Snite Museum, concerts, film). Students will choose a self-development goal for the semester. Students will give different types of oral presentations and create an interdisciplinary final project.