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Brown Leadership Institute

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To Have, or To Have-Not: Leadership, Policy, and Politics in a Divided Nation

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

Socioeconomic inequality in the United States is greater today than it has been in the past 150 years. In that time, the gulf separating the rich from the poor has widened dramatically. This separation has complex causes and significant social consequences. Indeed, the recent election has demonstrated the extent to which the American populace is divided by class, race, and gender. These divisions intersect with one another, and with other identity-markers like sexuality, religion, and ethnicity, in ways that have implications for our socioeconomic social order. How has this social order taken shape, and why should we be so concerned about socioeconomic inequality? What roles do politics and public policy play in the production, reproduction, and remediation of these divides?

In this course, we will explore the many social and political causes and effects of socioeconomic inequality. Students will learn about the evolution of the American economy over the past fifty years that backgrounds contemporary issues of poverty and inequality. Through a series of readings and multimedia exploration, we will discuss how existing social institutions – such as family, marriage, religion, neighborhoods, schools, jobs, health and social services – contribute to the reproduction of inequality in our everyday lives. Part of this exploration will include a focused look into how political processes and public policies – past, present and future – shape socioeconomic inequality in the United States. Through a series of local and contemporary thematic case studies and guest speakers, students will learn how civic leaders and community organizers are making sense of and responding to the persistent economic inequality and whirlwind of political upheavals that has grasped our country. Together, we will strive to translate our knowledge into plans for social and political engagement in the future.

Students will come away from this class with the ability to think critically about economic inequality and the role of public policy. They will learn about how efforts to create positive social change play out in practice and how their understanding of economic inequality and poverty can become actionable within their home communities through their Action Plans. This course will be of particular interests to students interested in academic study and careers in politics, public policy, and social justice.

Please Note:

This course is part of the Leadership Institute program, a 2-week immersive experience with busy days. Our mission is to help students develop and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership. The Leadership Institute consists of three elements: academic content, leadership development, and the Action Plan. Participants are intellectually curious and compassionate students who are interested in social issues and creating positive change.

Additional programmatic information can be found here

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