Affirmative Action

Spring 1997--Marist College

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Course Description: In this course, we will explore the logic and practice of affirmative action as 1) a legal instrument of public policy, 2) an ethical practice of institutional responsibility, and 3) a component of justice in a pluralistic democracy. To this end, we shall survey recent literature, write papers, and engage in group research projects.

Course Objectives: For each reading, students will be expected to appraise the main arguments for soundness, assess the importance of conclusions, and develop implications for the studentís own understanding of affirmative action. Papers will offer occasions for students to critically examine judgments relevant to affirmative action. And group projects will encourage students to analyze contemporary events as contexts for framing important issues.

Assessing Outcomes: Quizzes will test comprehension of the main arguments found in the readings. Papers will be reviewed for the ability to critically frame and evaluate judgments important to affirmative action. And group projects will be evaluated for the ability of students to present interesting analysis of contemporary events relevant to affirmative action.

Grades: The final grade will be based upon the following criteria, with each category receiving equal weight:

· Quizzes and class participation

· Paper #1 (6 pages or 1,500 words) Click Here to See Guidelines for Papers

· Paper #2 (6 pages or 1,500 words)

· Group Report

· Final Meditation (14 pages or 3,500 words)

* Attendance policy: three unexcused absences (more than one week of class) will result in the overall deduction of one letter grade; five unexcused absences (more than two weeks of class) will result in the overall deduction of two letter grades; six unexcused absences (three weeks of class) will result in a failing grade for the course.

Required Texts:

Kemp, Alice Abel. Womenís Work: Degraded and Devalued. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Perlo, Victor. Economics of Racism II: The Roots of Inequality, USA. New York: International Publishers, 1996.

Skrentny, John David. Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture, and Justice in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Clayton, Susan and Faye Crosby. Justice, Gender, and Affirmative Action. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992.

Praxis Option*: In order to encourage theoretical reflections that are grounded in practical experience, this course participates in the Marist Praxis Project. Students may choose a five-week commitment of service to an approved community location and engage in relevant scholarly research. The results of this experience should be clearly related to the course material as part of the final meditation (involving two pages or 500 words of discussion, including references to relevant literature). Students who successfully complete their praxis commitment may turn in a 10-page final meditation (inclusive of the 2-page discussion).

Click Here to See a Site List for Praxis Projects

Schedule of Readings & Assignments:

Jan. 15 Kemp Ch. 3 "Individualist Theories"

Jan. 22 Kemp Ch. 4 "Structuralist Theories"

Jan. 27 Kemp Ch. 5 "History"

Jan. 29 Kemp Ch. 6 "20th Century"

Feb. 3 Kemp Ch. 7 "Segregation: Choice or Constraint?"

Feb. 5 Kemp Ch. 8 "Domestic Labor in the Patriarchal Family"

Feb. 10 Kemp Ch. 9 "Womenís Work & the State"

Feb. 12 Kemp Ch. 10 "3rd World and the Future"

Feb. 17 Perlo Ch. 1-3 "Populations & Incomes"

Feb. 19 Perlo Ch. 4-5 "Wealth & Poverty" PAPER #1 DUE (2 copies in a folder)

Feb. 24 Perlo Ch. 6-7 "Unemployment"

Feb. 26 Perlo Ch. 8-9 "Affirmative Action & Black Capitalism" ORGANIZING Group Reports

Mar. 3 Perlo Ch. 10-11 "Racism & Housing"

Mar. 5 Perlo Ch. 12-13 "Education & Health Care"


Mar. 17 Perlo Ch. 14-15 "Police & Unions"

Mar. 19 Perlo Ch. 16-17 "Ideology, Repression, or Justice?"

Mar. 24 Skrentny Ch. 1-2 "Irony & Colorblindness" MEETING with Group #1

Mar. 26 Skrentny Ch. 3 "Justice, Preference, & Policymaking" PAPER #2 DUE (2 copies) MEETING with Group #2

Apr. 2 Skrentny Ch. 4 "Crisis Management" MEETING with Group #3

Apr. 7 Skrentny Ch. 5 "Pragmatism" MEETING with Group #4

Apr. 9 Skrentny Ch. 6 "Tradition" MEETING with Group #5

Apr. 14 Skrentny Ch.7 "Nixon"

Apr. 16 Skrentny Ch.8 "Conclusion" GROUP REPORT #1

Apr. 21 Clayton & Crosby Ch. 1&2 "Introduction" & "Affirmative Action" GROUP REPORT #2

Apr. 23 Clayton & Crosby Ch. 3 "Relative Deprivation" GROUP REPORT #3

Apr. 28 Clayton & Crosby Ch. 4 "Denial and Recognition" GROUP REPORT #4

Apr. 30 Clayton & Crosby Ch. 5 "Affirmative Action and Beyond" GROUP REPORT #5


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Group project suggestions:


Prop. 209