HONR 348J

This course seeks to engage students in a thoughtful, in-depth examination of critical modern social issues. We will explore issues of national and international concern–as well as problems students face in modern universities. Chief among major campus issues are affirmative action and multiculturalism. This class will examine the origins, purpose, and nature of affirmative action in hopes of assessing its effectiveness. In this same light, we will look at the origins and purposes of multiculturalism, in particular, its day-to-day application on campus. Are diversity and multiculturalism simply an acknowledgment of new social realities? Or are they the result of out-of-control left-wing political correctness?

Since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has become perhaps our most contentious national issue. What has been the effect of the availability of abortions on society? Is abortion a women’s issue as some claim, or a moral issue as others claim?

Other topics to be considered:

What is the proper role of the federal government in assuring health care, pollution control, and work place safety? Should the welfare state be reduced, dismantled, or modified?

What are the cultural and political implications of the apparent conflict between “traditional family values,” on the one hand, and popular culture and the entertainment media, on the other?

Now that communism is dead and the Soviet Union has collapsed, should America be the world’s policeman, or retreat behind its borders and let other nations fend for themselves?

What should our policy be towards illegal aliens as well as those legal immigrants who lack the education, wealth, and training to contribute to society?

Assignments include:

• Students will be assigned to prepare oral presentations of the weekly topics on a rotating basis. Each student will make one or two presentations. In addition each student will be required to prepare a written essay based upon the oral presentation and two papers about other weekly topics. By the end of the semester each student will have written at least three papers and given at least one oral presentation.

Readings include:

Ellis Cose, Rage of the Privileged Class

Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities

Steven Fraser, ed., The Bell Curve Wars

Derrick Bell, Faces at the Bottom of the Well

Shelby Steele, The Content of our Character

Robert Hughes, The Culture of Complaint

Paul Berman, ed., Debating P.C.

Andrew Hacker, Two Nations