Class name: “Social Justice Traditions: 1960s to Occupy Wall Street”
Taught by: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Professor of American Studies Andrew Cornell
Here’s what Cornell has to say about the course:
The class introduces students to an array of progressive social movements that have reshaped the culture and politics of the United States over the past 60 years: the black freedom struggle and anti-war movements, various strands of feminism and LGBTQ politics, anti-nuke and environmental activism beginning in the 1980s, and recent struggles for worker’s rights and economic justice. Instead of studying these movements in isolation, we see how they came to fruition at specific times and places, as well as how they borrowed concepts, tactics, and rhetoric from previous initiatives.
I realized that many students are interested in political activism, but colleges rarely teach the history of recent social movements. When they do, they often focus on a single issue—feminist movements in Women’s Studies classes, for example. But, today, students often take on multiple issues at once, and quickly come to realize that the issues are interrelated. For example, movements seeking to halt global warming are now part of a “climate justice” movement, which points to the ways that poor people and people of color are disproportionately harmed by environmental degradation. I decided to organize a class that could orient students with regard to the debates within and between these dynamic movements, so that when they do join the fray, they can hit the ground running.
I hope students see that the spectrum of political opinions Americans hold is much wider than the ideas typically expressed in the news. I would also like them to recognize that electoral politics is only one aspect of the larger process of creating social change, and that there are many places they can “plug in” to that process, should they choose to do so.
See what other courses the History Department is offering this semester.
Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience.
Photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.