Cornell students compile massive list of courses on race, racism, white privilege and diversity

Aug 2, 2020

Students at Cornell University have compiled a list of nearly 40 courses on race and racism available at the Ivy League institution.

Students Prameela Kottapalliand Louise Wang started a student-led resource list naming 39 classes centered around race and racism.

“As a baseline, as allies, we should take history classes, we should devote our time to anti-racism organizations, learning about the intersectionality of oppression,” Kottapalli said in a statement to the Cornell Daily Sun. “We need to look at our classes and think, ‘OK, let’s decolonize our schedules,’ to take classes that expand our perspectives.”

Courses on the list include “The Future of Whiteness,” “Race and Sex: Arabian Nights,” “Refugees and the Politics of Vulnerability: Intersections of Feminist Theory,” and “Prisons, Politics, and Policy.”


Classes to take

*Last updated on 06/03/20. Instructors and courses subject to change.

Note: Most of these classes are listed across other subfields/categories and fulfill various distribution requirements; find ones that you’re interested in and then check out the course roster for full details.

  1.  3590: Black radical tradition in the US
  1. Professor: Russell Rickford
  2. Description: This course provides a critical historical interrogation of what Black Marxism author Cedric Robinson called “the Black Radical Tradition.” It will introduce students to some of the major currents in the history of black radical thought, action, and organizing, with an emphasis on the United States after World War I. It relies on social, political, and intellectual history to examine the efforts of black people who have sought not merely social reform, but a fundamental restructuring of political, economic, and social relations. We will define and evaluate radicalism in the shifting contexts of liberation struggles. We will explore dissenting visions of social organization and alternative definitions of citizenship, progress, and freedom. We will confront the meaning of the intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality in social movements.
  1. EDUC 2610: Intergroup Dialogue
  1.  Instructors: Jazlin Gomez (jmg495) and Adi Grabiner Keinan (ag649)
  2. Description: Intergroup Dialogue is a structured, peer facilitated course offering an opportunity for students to develop the skills of/for dialogue in complex and dynamic social and institutional contexts. Students meet in intimate, small group settings to explore personal and social identity formation while examining historical, psychological, and sociological course readings. More broadly intergroup dialogue fosters a critical awareness of the ways in which sexism, heterosexism, religious intolerance and racism disable social justice and undermine deliberative democracy. Through a variety of in class exercises, written assignments and collaborative action projects students engage, analyze and develop the skills of dialogue for effective communication across social differences in highly diverse social contexts.
  1. AMST/ASRC/ENGL/LSP/SHUM 2770/ASRC 2770: Representing Racial Encounters, Encountering Racial Representations
  1. Professor: Ella Diaz (emd233), Mukoma Ngugi (mwn39)
  2. Description: Designed for the general student population, this course specifically appeals to students traveling abroad, or who in the future will work with diverse communities. The course uses literature and popular culture, alongside literary, social, and cultural theory to consider how people from different cultures encounter and experience each other.
  1. ASRC 2003: Africa: The Continent and its People
  1. Professor: N’Dri Assie-Lumumba (na12)
  2. Description: An introductory interdisciplinary course focusing on Africa’s geographical, ecological, social and demographic characteristics; indigenous institutions and values; multiple cultural heritage of Africanity, Islam, Western civilization, and emerging Asian/Chinese influence.
  1. COML 2700/FGSS 2701/ VISST 2701/ ENGL 2917: Race and Sex: Arabian Nights
  1. Professor: Parisa Vaziri (pv248)
  2. Description: What does the representation of sexual encounter in the Arabian Nights (‘Alf layla-wa layla) have to do with a politics of race and gender? This course explores the millenia-long history of mediations and translations of this ancient Perso-Arabic text across literature, film, and popular culture, in the Middle East and in Europe. We will pay attention to the transmission of phobic tropes about female sexuality and miscegenation, or “interracial” sex as they manifest in various versions of 1001 Nights across time and space.
  1. GOVT/FGSS 3401: Refugees and the Politics of Vulnerability: Intersections of Feminist Theory and Practice
  1. Professor: Jane Juffer (jaj93)
  2. Description: “We will use the growing body of feminist scholarship on vulnerability in law, philosophy, migration studies, and other fields to investigate how “vulnerability” creates categories of worthy and unworthy victims…  At what age does a child no longer deserve sympathy and protection? In what ways does vulnerability overshadow children’s agency? How might vulnerability be rearticulated so as to address children’s specific needs, at different ages? Our main focus will be Central American and Mexican children crossing into the U.S. at the southern border, but we will make comparisons to other groups throughout the world.”
  1. ASRC/FGSS 3310: Afro-Asia: Futurisms and Feminisms
  1. Professor: Tao Goffe (tlg92)
  2. Description: This course explores cultural representations of Afro-Asian intimacies and coalition in novels, songs, films, paintings, and poems. Students will consider the intersections and overlap between African and Asian diasporic cultures in global cities such as New York, Chicago, Havana, Lahore, Kingston, and Hong Kong to ask the question: when did Africa and Asia first encounter each other?
  1. ENGL 4912: Black Women’s Autobiography in 21st Century Writing
  1. Professor: Riche Richardson (rdr83)
  2. Description: In this course, we will focus on how black women have continued to write and share their personal stories in the new millennium by examining autobiographies that they have produced in the first years of the twenty-first century, and more broadly, the impact of this writing on twenty-first century African American literature.
  1. GOVT 3715: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism
  1. Professor: Begum Adalet
  2. Description: This seminar overviews political theories of colonialism and empire, and in doing so, allows us to pose questions about the constitutive elements of our modernity, such as slavery, racism, dependency, and dispossession.
  1. FGSS 3206: Black Women and Political Leadership
  1. Professor: Carole Boyce Davies (ceb278)
  2. Description: This course studies the life experiences and political struggles of black women who have attained political leadership. It will study their rise to political power through an examination of the autobiographies of women from the Caribbean, the U.S., Africa and Brazil. The first half of the course will examine some of the general literature on the subject; the second half will study the women in their own words.
  1. ENGL 4550: Race and Time
  1. Professor: Sunn Wong
  2. Description: Race, comparison, and time—what do these terms have to do with each other? What does it mean to be in time, or out of time? What are some other ways of inhabiting time, or of being inhabited by time? What is the time of the racialized subject? How is time and temporality figured in literature?
  1. GOVT 3032/AMST 3033: Politics of Public Policy in the U.S.
  1. Professor: Jamila Michener (jm2362)
  2. Description: The aim of this course is to equip students with the conceptual tools necessary to understand these processes. We will begin with a review of popular approaches to studying policy and then move on to explore the various stages of policy development: agenda-setting, policy design, policy implementation, policy feedback and policy change. As we engage all of these ideas, students will be consistently challenged to grapple with the paradoxes of policy making in a democratic polity and to envision pathways for substantive political change.
  1. ASRC 4301: A Dilemma Revisited: African Americans, Inequality and K-16 Education in America
  1. Professor: Noliwe Rooks (nmr67)
  2. Description: TBD
  1. ASRC 4733: The Future of Whiteness
  1. Professor: Satya Mohanty (spm5)
  2. Description: How should anti-racist people respond to the new racialized white identities that have emerged recently in Europe and the United States? What alternative conceptions of whiteness are available? This course is a wide-ranging introduction to these questions with readings drawn from social and cultural theory, as well as literature and film.
  1. LGBT 3754/ AMST 3754/ENGL 3954/ PMA 3754: Spoken Word, Hip-Hop Theater, and the Politics of Performance
  1. Professor: Karen Jaime (kj12)
  2. Description: In this course, we will critically examine the production and performance of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender through literature and contemporary performance genres such as spoken word, slam poetry, and hip-hop theatre.
  1. ASRC 1599: Introduction to Africana Studies
  1. Professor: Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui (sng52)
  2. Description: This course offers an introduction to the study of Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean and other diasporas.  This course will examine, through a range of disciplines, among them literature, history, politics, philosophy, the themes – including race/racism, the Middle Passage, sexuality, colonialism, and culture – that have dominated Africana Studies since its inception in the late-1960s. We will explore these issues in the attempt to understand how black lives have been shaped, in a historical sense; and, of course, the effects of these issues in the contemporary moment. This course seeks to introduce these themes, to investigate through one or more of the disciplines relevant to the question, and to provide a broad understanding of the themes so as to enable the kind of intellectual reflection critical to Africana Studies.
  1. SOC 2208: Social Inequality
  1. Professor: Steven Alvarado (sa792)
  2. Description: This course reviews contemporary approaches to understanding social inequality and the processes by which it comes to be seen as legitimate, natural, or desirable.  We address questions of the following kind:  What are the major forms of stratification in human history?  Are inequality and poverty inevitable?  How many social classes are there in advanced industrialism societies?  Is there a “ruling class?”  Are lifestyles, attitudes, and personalities shaped fundamentally by class membership?  Can individuals born into poverty readily escape their class origins and move upward in the class structure?  Are social contacts and “luck” important forces in matching individuals to jobs and class positions?  What types of social processes serve to maintain and alter racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination in labor markets?  Is there an “underclass?”  These and other questions are addressed in light of classical and contemporary theory and research.
  1. ENGL 2152/LSP/ASRC 2212: Carribean Worlds
  1. Professor: Carole Boyce-Davies (ceb278)
  2. Description: TBD
  1. SOC/AMST 1104: Race and Ethnicity in the United States: Social Constructs, Real World Consequences
  1. Professor: Steven Alvarado (sa792)
  2. Description: This course will examine race and ethnic relations between Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians in the United States. The goal of this course is for students to understand how the history of race and ethnicity in the U.S. affects opportunity structures in, for example, education, employment, housing, and health. Through this course students will gain a better understanding of how race and ethnicity stratifies the lives of individuals in the U.S.
  1. AMST 1101: Introduction to American Studies
  1. Professor: Noliwe Rooks (nmr67)
  2. Description: This course is an introduction to interdisciplinary considerations of American culture. Specific topics may change from year to year and may include questions of national consensus versus native, immigrant and racial subcultures and countercultures; industrialization and the struggles over labor; the rise of leisure; the transformation of (the frequently gendered) public and private spheres; the relationship between politics and culture; the development and distinctions among consumer culture, mass culture and popular culture. These themes will be examined through a variety of media, such as literature, historical writing, music, art, film, architecture, etc. The course will also give attention to the many methods through which scholars have, over time, developed the discipline of American Studies.
  1. AAS 4550/AMST 4550/ENGL 4961/HIST 4551: Race and the University
  1. Professors: Derek Chang (dsc37), Sunn Wong (ssw6)
  2. Description: What is a university, what does it do, and how does it do it? Moving out from these more general questions, this seminar will focus on a more specific set of questions concerning the place of race within the university. What kinds of knowledge are produced in the 20th- century U.S. university? Why is it, and how is it, that certain knowledge formations and disciplines come to be naturalized or privileged within the academy? How has the emergence of fields of inquiry such as Ethnic Studies (with an epistemological platform built on the articulations of race, class and gender) brought to the fore (if not brought to crisis) some of the more vexing questions that strike at the core of the idea of the university as the pre-eminent site of disinterested knowledge? This seminar will give students the opportunity to examine American higher education’s (particularly its major research institutions) historical instantiation of the relations amongst knowledge, power, equality and democracy.
  1. AMST 2870/ASRC 2870/ENGL 2870: Freedom Writes: History of Global Justice Struggles
  1. Professors: Mary Pat Brady (mpb23), Helena Viramontes (hmv2)
  2. Description: This course examines some major justice movements of the modern era, introducing students to a submerged history that should neither be idealized nor forgotten. One goal will be to connect the ongoing struggles for social justice of minoritized populations in the US with the history of struggles for justice by workers, women, and disempowered social groups across the world. We’ll begin with the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Gandhi, and conclude with a look at contemporary activist movements.  Along the way, we’ll look at such cultural forms as AIDS quilts, urban murals, the music of Bob Marley, and theatrical productions from prisons, as well as Anna Deveare Smith’s Twilight L.A. and Helena Viramontes’ novel Under the Feet of Jesus.
  1. CRP 2010: People, Planning, and Politics in the City
  1. Professor: John Forester (jff1)
  2. Description: Seminar examining various bases of political and professional power. What do professionals who want to serve the public need to know about power and decision-making processes in the institutional settings in which they operate? How and why can professionals make a difference when facing problems characterized by great complexity and severe inequalities among affected groups? The course addresses these and others questions.
  1. ENGL 4605/AMST 4603/ASRC 4655: Black Speculative Fiction
  1. Professor: Derrick Spires (drs385)
  2. Description: We’ll give special attention to speculation in African American literature to think through how Black people used art in the midst of anti-blackness to imagine worlds otherwise and for the pleasure of the craft. We’ll read Black speculation through multiple forms, including novels, graphic novels, film, and music. Figures for consideration include William J. Wilson (“Ethiop), Pauline Hopkins, Frances E. W. Harper, W. E. B. Du Bois, Octavia Butler, Ryan Coogler, Eve Ewing, N.K. Jemisin, Sun Ra, and Erykah Badu.
  1. ASRC/AMST 3434: Underground Railroad Seminar
  1. Professor: Gerard Aching (gla23)
  2. Description: This course offers undergraduates a unique approach to exploring the abolition movement of central New York. It is an experiential course that includes visits to specific known underground stations as well as Harriet Tuban’s residence and the William H. Seward House in Auburn, NY. It is also a community-engaged course in which students will contribute research for grant writing for two sites: the St. James AME Zion Church in Ithaca and the Howland Stone Store Museum in Sherwood, NY. Readings include some of the classic slave narratives and studies of the underground railroad. Please send a brief explanation of your interest in enrolling to Professor Gerard Aching [[email protected]]
  1. GOVT 2225/ AMST 2225/ DSOC 2220/ ILROB 2220/ PHIL 1950: Controversies About Inequality
  1. Professor: Anna Haskins
  2. Description: This course introduces students to ongoing social scientific debates about the sources and consequences of inequality, as well as the types of public policy that might appropriately be pursued to reduce (or increase) inequality.
  1. LSP 2152/GOVT 2152: Immigration and Immigrants: Then and Now
  1. Professor: Sergio Garcia-Rios (sig35)
  2. Description: The class will focus on two aspects of immigration: First, a historical examination of immigration policy from the founding of the country all the way forward to the current debate over immigration reform. Second, we will evaluate and assess the political incorporation and political participation of immigrant groups in the U.S. and determine whether immigrants are being incorporated, and if not, why? We will reflect on many important questions including the costs and benefits of immigration, issues related to civil rights and civil liberties, and finally propose our own ideas and solutions to the current immigration reform debate.
  1. LGBT 4654/FGSS 4654/ PMA 4554/ MUSIC 6354: Race, Gender, Sexuality and the Voice
  1. Professor: TBD
  2. Description: Having a voice is often seen as a central metaphor for a person’s agency. Having a voice allows a person to be heard as well as to speak. Yet, how we speak or sing, and how our voices are heard is socially constructed and varies based on many different identity factors including race, gender, and sexuality. From black opera divas and transgender jazz musicians to lesbian rock singers and cross identity voice over actors, this seminar will explore how to analyze and make meaning out of the use of voices within music and media: materially, culturally, and historically.
  1. GOVT 3785/AMST 3785/PHIL 2945: Civil Disobedience
  1. Professor: Alexander Livingston (pal229)
  2. Description: This course examines the political theory of civil disobedience. Do citizens have obligations to obey unjust laws? What makes disobedience civil rather than criminal? How do acts of protest influence public opinion and policy? Do disruptive protests endanger democracy or strengthen the rule of law? How is the distinction between violence and non-violence political constructed and contested? How has political dissent transformed in a digital era? We will study classical writings and contemporary scholarship in pursuit of answers to these questions and related debates concerning the rule of law, conscience, justice, violence and non-violence, whistleblowing, direct action, rioting, and hacktivism.
  1. ILRLR 4842: Fighting Discrimination in the Workplace
  1.  Professor: Risa Lieberwitz (rll5)
  2. Explores the role of law in prohibiting employment discrimination based on characteristics that include race, sex, gender, national origin, religion, age, and disability. The course will also analyze the gaps that remain in providing broad and effective protection against discrimination in the workplace and the difficulties individuals and groups face in bringing legal claims.
  1. PAM 3250: Neighborhoods, Housing, and Urban Policy
  1. Professor: Laura Tach (lmt88)
  2. Description: This course considers the dynamics of housing markets and neighborhoods in American metropolitan areas and the public policies designed to regulate them. In the first part of the course we examine the demographic and economic forces at work in metropolitan neighborhoods, focusing on trends in inequality and segregation and how they have been influenced by macroeconomic trends and public policies.
  1. PHIL 2525/ASRC 2020: Introduction to African Philosophy
  1. Professor: Olufemi Taiwo (ot48)
  2. Description: This course will introduce its enrollees to how these questions have been answered in the global African world; how they have thought about and sought to make sense of or solve some of the same philosophical problems that have remained at the core of the “Western” tradition. The readings are chosen from a global African perspective.
  1. ENGL 3741: Design Thinking, Media, and Community
  1. Professor: Jon McKenzie (jvm62)
  2. Description: This course introduces students to media- and design-based approaches to community engagement. From sustainability to social justice, researchers increasingly conduct and share work using media designed for specific communities and stakeholders. At the same time, community organizations share experiences with wider audiences using poetry, murals, videos, and public events as civic discourse. In this course, students study forms of transmedia knowledge and participatory research through such cases as the Healthy Aboriginal Network’s public health comics and videos, as well as Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families, a collaborative study by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design. Drawing lessons from design thinking, UX design, and tactical media, students apply their learning through collaborations with community partners.
  1. Similar class being taught again by Prof McKenzie in Fall 2020 – “Human Centered Design and Engaged Media” – ENGL 4705/COML 4821/INFO4940
  1. ILRLR 1100: Introduction to US Labor History
  1. Professor: Veronica Martinez-Matsuda (vm248)
  2. Description: Introductory survey covering the major changes in the nature of work, the workforce, and the institutions involved in industrial relations from the late 19th century to the present.
  1. HIST 1970: Pirates, Slaves, and Revolutionaries: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to Louverture
  1. Professor: Ernesto Bassi (eb577)
  2. Description: Follow indigenous people, Spanish conquistadors, English, Dutch, and French pirates and privateers, planters, and merchants, imperial officers, slaves, sailors, and revolutionaries as they adapted to the multiple transformations that shaped this region. Through lectures, discussions, and readings of primary and secondary sources we will navigate the Caribbean in a quest to understand the historical processes that gave shape to this tropical paradise
  1. HD 2820: Community Outreach
  1. Professor: Harry Segal
  2. Description: Provides students with information and perspectives essential to volunteer fieldwork with human and social service programs in the community. Readings are drawn from the field of community psychology and include analyses of successful programs, such as Head Start, as well as a review of the methods by which those programs are developed and assessed. Although students are not required to volunteer, the instructor provides students with a list of local agencies open to student placements.
  1. AMST 3155: Prisons, Politics, and Policy
  1. Professor: Jamila Michener
  2. Descriptions: Prisons are social and political institutions governed by local, state and national policies. They have a profound influence on American society, especially on our political community.  They amplify inequality and disadvantage. The massive number of people imprisoned in the United States speaks volumes about our policy priorities and about our democracy. How did things get this way? How did we end up being the nation that incarcerates more of its population than virtually any other? What policy processes directly and indirectly account for this? What explains the change that we now appear to be experiencing? What is the future of the U.S. prison system? What is the future of our democracy? This course will tackle these and other pressing questions. Students will gain an empirically grounded and theoretically far-reaching understanding of one of the most fundamental and transformative institutions in America.
  1. BSOC 2468: Medicine, Culture and Society
  1. Professor: Saida Hodzic
  2. Description: Medicine has become the language and practice through which we address a broad range of both individual and societal complaints. Interest in this “medicalization of life” may be one of the reasons that medical anthropology is currently the fastest-growing subfield in anthropology. This course encourages students to examine concepts of disease, suffering, health, and well-being in their immediate experience and beyond. In the process, students will gain a working knowledge of ecological, critical, phenomenological, and applied approaches used by medical anthropologists. We will investigate what is involved in becoming a doctor, the sociality of medicines, controversies over new medical technologies, and the politics of medical knowledge. The universality of biomedicine (or hospital medicine) will not be taken for granted, but rather we will examine the plurality generated by the various political, economic, social, and ethical demands under which biomedicine has developed in different places and at different times. In addition, biomedical healing and expertise will be viewed in relation to other kinds of healing and expertise. Our readings will address medicine in North America as well as other parts of the world. In class, our discussions will return regularly to consider the broad diversity of kinds of medicine throughout the world, as well as the specific historical and local contexts of biomedicine.
  1. Want more? You can search for courses using by typing in what you’d like to learn about (ex: I want to learn about race and education).
  1. Also, look through SOC, DSOC, AMST, GOVT, ARSC, LSP, FGSS, LGBT and PAM course listings for more options.
  2. AAS100: Intro to Asian-American Studies (which talks about asian-black activism) and AAS 2130: Intro to Asian American history have also been recommended 🙂 please do check them out!

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