I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on politics, poverty, race, public policy, prisons and cities. See tabs below for a sampling of my course offerings.
Politics of Poverty
Politics of Public Policy
Prison, Policy, Politics
Racial & Ethnic Politics in the U.S.
Poverty is an issue of enduring importance with significant implications for democratic governance. This course explores contemporary poverty in America, with a particular emphasis on its political causes and consequences. What is the extent of poverty in America both presently and historically? What are its causes? What explains persistent racial disparities in rates of poverty? What is the proper role of government in addressing poverty? What policies best alleviate poverty? How might poor people gain political power despite their relative disadvantage? We will tackle these and other questions by drawing on insights from seminal texts in political science, sociology, history and economics.
Public policy shapes all of our lives in profound ways. Policies are the primary mechanism for addressing the most vexing and important problems of our time: inequality, poverty, mass incarceration, global warming and much more. But policies do not appear out of thin air. They are the product of complex and multifaceted political processes. Moreover, even after policy is made, political decisions determine how it is implemented and to what end. In order to evaluate or change policy, we must understand the politics underlying it. That is the focus of this course. We will begin with a review of theoretical approaches to studying public policy and then move on to explore various aspects of policy development: agenda setting, policy design, policy implementation and policy reform. Along the way, we will consider the role of political institutions (congress, the courts, the president, interests groups) and everyday people (public opinion, social movements). Finally, we will closely study several specific policy arenas (education, social welfare and criminal “justice”). As we engage all of these ideas, students will be challenged to grapple with the paradoxes of policy making and to envision pathways to substantive political change.
Prisons are social and political institutions governed by local, state and national policies. They have a profound influence on American society, especially on our political community. Prisons amplify inequality and compound disadvantage. The massive number of people imprisoned in the United States speaks volumes about our policy priorities and about our democracy. What policy processes directly and indirectly account for United States’ dubious distinction as the nation that incarcerates more of its population than any other? Relatedly, how do such policies affect the lives of the millions of people who come into contact with the carceral state each year? To gain clarity on these questions, we will examine how public policies affect people’s lives before, during and after incarceration. Students will gain an empirically grounded, theoretically far-reaching and experientially oriented understanding of one of the most consequential and transformative institutions in America.
This course examines racial and ethnic politics (REP) in the United States, highlighting its fundamental role in shaping American politics. We will explore the political origins of the American racial order and the ways it has both persisted and changed over time. Focusing on participation, representation and resistance, we will emphasize the political agency of racialized groups while recognizing the power of institutions and policies in shaping their trajectory. This course should provide students with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary to better understand and more effectively study the complexities of race that loom large in a post 9/11, post-Obama, post-Ferguson America.