In July 2016, a group of undergraduate students from across the university joined together with a common goal: to create an academic program dedicated to the study of social class and inequality. Though nothing of the sort existed in the United States, these students were determined to find a home for their vision.
In Women’s Studies, they found that home. Effective Fall 2019, our department will house Michigan’s new Social Class and Inequality Studies minor, the only program of its kind in the country.
Building on Women’s Studies’ existing curriculum, the minor will examine how class creates and sustains inequities across society. Students will begin the program in a foundational course introducing them to critical methods of thinking about class; afterwards, they’ll have the opportunity to focus their studies on topics of interest, in courses from “Survey of Labor Economics” to “Knights, Peasants, and Bandits.”
Throughout their studies, students will not only become familiar with scholarship on class, but will also learn how their knowledge can create positive change in society.
“In the ten years that I’ve been teaching class and inequality studies, so many students have expressed the difference these courses have made in their lives,” said Women’s Studies Professor Dean Hubbs, who played an integral role in launching the minor by helping students revise their proposal to the college. “The questions we focus on grow more critical every day, with increasing awareness that contemporary crises are entangled, from local to global levels, with runaway inequality.”
The new minor will strengthen connections between Women’s Studies and a number of other units on campus, including Economics, Organizational Studies, and Sociology. Undergraduates from across the university are eligible to declare the minor.
Moreover, the minor represents the activist spirit that has long driven Women’s Studies students to make a positive difference in their communities. As Professor Barry Checkoway, advisor to the program, summarized, “This minor shows the power that students have to create change on campus.”
Students interested in learning more about the minor can read about its requirements on LSA’s website.