The department’s newest program, the Minor in Social Class and Inequality Studies, is now three years old. A group of Michigan undergraduates led the initiative to create the first degree program in the country focused on intersectional study of social class. The minor has strengthened connections between Women’s and Gender Studies and other units on campus including Economics, Organizational Studies, and Sociology.

In the new issue of LSA Magazine, Professor Nadine “Dean” Hubbs discusses the joys and challenges of teaching in the minor. Dean is a musicologist and historian who has taught and written about class, race, gender, and sexuality in popular and classical music. A first-gen college student, she earned her Ph.D. from Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

LSA Magazine’s Susan Hutton spoke with Dean for the article. “As a working-class kid who lived in an elite university world, Hubbs held a unique perspective. ‘I had really wanted to write about class for a long time,’ she says. ‘The problem was, I didn’t know how to say it without destroying my career and outing myself as someone who doesn’t belong.’” Hubbs notes that U.S. society’s lack of dialogue about class places the burden of analysis, and blame, on individuals, especially those with least advantage. In courses for the minor, she teaches “’diverse students and a lot of first gens, and a diverse group of kids from the working class who have also been taught it’s all on them. And now here they are, at the University of Michigan. I know how lonely that is.’"

She continues, “‘I have been doing this work for some time, and I’m at the stage where I’m starting to think, okay, what does this all add up to? Well, the students in my class for whom these questions have deep consequences are learning about social class and its effects. They are not going to have to laboriously figure it all out on their own over decades like I did,’ she says. ‘And that, for me, is a privilege and such a powerfully meaningful experience.’”

Meaningful experiences and cross-disciplinary connections are at the heart of the Social Class and Inequality Studies minor. Thank you, Dean, for all that you give of yourself to our program, and to all of our faculty who have a personal stake in their research and teaching.

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