Political Economy and Environmental and Social Movements: Race, Class, and Gender

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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We will examine the nature, development, and concrete workings of modern capitalism and how they intersect with race, class, and gender in historical and contemporary contexts. Recurring themes include the relationship among oppression, exploitation, social movements, reform and fundamental change, and the construction of alternatives to capitalism. We will examine how social change has occurred in the past, present trends, and alternatives for the future. Theoretical frameworks informing understandings of current U.S. and global political economy will include liberalism, neoclassical economics, Marxism, feminism, postcolonialism, and anarchism. We will apply these frameworks to analyze key issues including education, the media, climate change, hunger, debt, immigration, refugees, and the criminal justice system.

In fall, the U.S. experience will be our central focus. We will begin with the material and ideological foundations of the U.S. political economy, focusing on specific issues including the slave trade, racial, gender, economic, and environmental inequality, the labor movement and the western push to "American Empire." We will examine the linkages between the economic core of capitalism, political and social structures, and gender, race and class relations; how resource struggles and environmental inequities are implicated in efforts to oppress, dispossess, or otherwise control populations; and how contemporary social movements have mobilized in resistance. Foundational microeconomics principles from neoclassical and political economy perspectives will inform these examinations, focusing on topics such as the structure and failure of markets, work and wages, growing economic inequality, poverty, debt as a means of dispossession, and the gendered and racial divisions of labor.

In winter, we will examine the U.S. political economy in global context. As such, topics examined will include economic globalization, development, international migration, U.S. foreign policy, international relations, global environmental politics, trade agreements, the role of multilateral institutions; and alternatives to neoliberal capitalism. As such we will explore socialism, participatory economies, and community-based economies and study strategies for social change based on grassroots social movements in India, Mexico and Bolivia. Foundational macroeconomics principles will inform these explorations, focusing on topics such as austerity, economic instability, unemployment, and underemployment.

Students will engage with the material through seminars, lectures, guest speakers, films, and workshops. Written assignments include reflection papers, synthesis papers, argumentative essays, in-class and take-home examinations. In winter, students will write a research paper on a relevant political economy topic or pursue an internship in an organization or group whose activities are closely related to the themes of this program.


Enrollment Conditions

New students accepted in winter.

Fall 2018 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10082
So - Sr (1 - 16): 10515
Winter 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 20030
So - Sr (1 - 16): 20232

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

political economy, economics, history, education, community organizing, labor organizing, global justice movement, law, development, and social work.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$25 in winter for overnight field trip.


In Person or Remote
Hybrid (F)
Hybrid (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 A1105 - Lecture


Date Revision
2019-01-04 signature requirement removed
2018-11-26 winter fee reduced to $25