Current Economic Issues and Social Justice

Spring Open
Class Standing
Savvina Chowdhury

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying but the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. ~Antonio Gramsci

“Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” ~ Milton Friedman

This one quarter program will explore current issues in contemporary US political economy such as: housing and homelessness; the race, class and gender of poverty and inequality; the changing nature of work, the labor market and an upsurge in workers’ movements; mass incarceration, anti-racist work and movements for abolition democracy; food regimes and food sovereignty movements; sacrifice zones and movements for environmental justice. Throughout the quarter, we will learn how to use conceptual tools from feminist theory and political economy to develop race, class and gender as intersectional lenses of analysis.

Our studies will draw on analytical frameworks such as Feminist Economics, Marxian and Neoclassical theory, as well as World Systems Theory to explore the way contemporary developments in the economy have transformed our lives in the U.S. and globally. In tandem with our exploration of theoretical frameworks, we will read about the ways in which communities are collectively contesting structures of oppression, enacting and fighting for their visions of a more just and equitable society. We will learn about participatory economics, arguments for degrowth, solidarity networks, as well as feminist, queer and anti-racist ideas as seedbeds for envisioning alternative, liberatory future societies. 

Within the context of this program students are invited to a) develop a research proposal and carry out work on an independent research project or b) set up an internship/community-based learning opportunity for up to ten hours per week.

Option a) work on developing a research project of your choice using the lenses of race, class and gender to analyze case studies in topics such as: the housing market, the labor market, environmental justice, food sovereignty, movements for abolition, economic democracy and anti-oppression work in a context of emboldened racism and patriarchy.

Option b) students interested in internships/volunteer work are encouraged to consult with the faculty about their proposed internship towards the end of winter quarter; please send an email specifying the community organizations you may be interested in working with - or that you are already volunteering with etc. 

Students will work closely with each other and with faculty on developing the independent component of their studies through a series of scaffolded assignments. At the end of the quarter, we will share our work in class with our peers. as we collectively explore emergent visions, theories and actions for intersectional justice. A 12-credit option offers the opportunity to participate in the coursework for this program, while forgoing the project-presentation requirements.

Students are expected to attend live, interactive sessions with program faculty and peers 13 hours per week. Program activities will include seminars, lectures, workshops, guest speakers, films, reading and writing assignments, and presentations. While most program activities will be in-person, some class sessions, such as asynchronous films and online discussions and workshops will be held remotely. To successfully participate in this program, students will need a quiet place to read and write, as well as access to a computer with reliable internet connection and word processing software.

Participation in this program means practicing accountability to each other and our community partners, as well as engaging in constant communication with your own learning community of faculty and fellow students. Students are encouraged meet with the faculty during the Academic Fair. For more information, please contact Savvina Chowdhury at


Course Reference Numbers
So - Sr (16): 30256
So - Sr (12): 30259

Academic Details

Government and non-government organizations, education, international studies, public policy, community advocacy and social work; graduate school in economics, environmental studies, labor studies, law, sociology and political economy.


$49 fee covers a Seattle museum entrance fee ($30) and attend a Seattle Town Hall lecture ($10).


Hybrid (S)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details
SEM 2 E1107 - Workshop