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State University of New York

College of Community and Public Affairs

Department of Human Development
Social Justice
HDEV 400
Office Hours:
Course Days/Times:
Course Location:

Kai Wen Yang

Tuesday 12:00-1:30 p.m., & By Appt.
Tuesday 1:40 - 4:40 pm
DC 120B

Teaching Assistant

Danielle Moraski,


In this course, we seek to sort out the multi-layered processes that create,
perpetuate, and challenge stratification, inequalities, and multiple forms of
violence within and across societies. A key intent is to examine conceptions of
justice that underpin efforts to address and redress disproportionalities and
disparities resulting from contemporary and historical relations of domination and
subjugation. The focus of the course moves between the global context and that of
the US, whereby students will analyze their own location within power and wealth
structures. We will also look at how our own choices in life have implications for
social justice. A special feature of this course is its emphasis on the
interconnectedness of global, regional, national, and local realities, as they affect
the lives of people in everyday domains. Differential access to wealth, resources,
institutions, and decision-making power has implications for material,
interpersonal, and psychic well-being. The course will address the marginalization
as well as highlight the resistance of those denied equal opportunities and
outcomes, and in doing so point to the potential for the just and peaceful
transformation of inequitable societal conditions.

During the course of the semester we will:

Analyze how social inequities and disparities have been historically
created and maintained within and across geographical contexts

Identify how social injustices impact the quality and fabric of human
existence in different contexts

Arrive at an understanding of the multiple levels of power relations

structuring peoples lives, experiences, and selves

Understand the linkages between historical and contemporary injustice at

the global, national, and local levels

Explore peoples resistance to oppressive power relations

Grapple with how to address and redress social injustice

Required Readings
Readings, in addition to the following books, will be made available through
blackboard course documents (BB) or other means specified by the instructor.
Some articles/chapters have already been listed in the schedule. Others will be
integrated if and when needed during the semester. A bibliography of these will be
maintained on blackboard. Please bring readings in printed form to class, as I
ask you to turn off all electronic devices.
All course readings are to be completed before class. Since we meet once a Wk, it
will be important to stay ahead with the readings. Class discussion will be driven
by class readings. Each class meeting will begin with what should be read for the
next class. If you miss class, you will be expected to ask other students what
readings are due before the following class.
These books are available at the campus bookstore and in the downtown center
reserve room or excepts will be provided to you on blackboard:

Alexander, M. (2012) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of
Colorblindness. New York: The New Press.
Capeheart, L. & Milovanovic, D. (2007) Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and
Movements. New Haven, NJ: Rutgers University Press. (Excerpts on BB)
Johnson, A. (2006). Privilege, Power and Difference. Boston, MA: McGrawHill.
Jean Bricmont (2006), Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell
War, New York, New York: Monthly Review Press
Assata Shakur (2001), Assata: An Autobiography, Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence
Hill Books
Requirements and Evaluation
It is your job to read and understand the assigned texts. The class discussions and
lectures are meant to support you in this effort, not the replace individual effort of
grappling with the readings. Class discussions and instructor presentations are not
meant to sum up the readings for you.
Please consider every class a review session. I expect that you ask questions if you
have difficulties with any of the readings not just in order to get participation
points but to help you understand readings.

It is expected that students attend the full length of and be on time for class.
Students will be allowed one unexcused absence from the course for the
semester. To be excused from class, students must have written documentation
that must be approved by the professor. Students will receive one whole grade
reduction for each additional unexcused absence. For example, if a student is
earning an A for the course, after the second absence, the grade will be reduced to a
A-the third absence will reduce their grade to a B+ and so on. Early exits from
class are also discouraged and points may be deducted from final grades.

This course is structured in a discussion format which promotes a collaborative
learning experience and engages student participation. One of the most important
contributions that students make is to share their thoughts about their learning
experiences based on a critical analytic lens during the course of the semester. The
format for this course is problem-based and inquiry oriented. Learning in this
course will take place as a result of lectures, guest speakers, readings, and
concentrated study by students. The teaching and learning strategies in this course
reflect small group discussions, individual and group presentations, and large
group/class discussions.
Tests (30%)
There will be 2 tests (either short answers or multiple choice). You are required to
know the material assigned for test 1 for the final test as well. Because we will
build in many ways on the material assigned during the first Wks, it is essential
that you deeply engage with class material from Wk 1.
Active Class Participation (15%)
Active class participation includes attendance and meaningful engagement, e.g.,
active listening, taking risks to share thoughts, and posing critical questions.
Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned reading
materials. In addition, throughout the semester, in-class written reflections and
class debates will be assigned as part of your grade.
Half of your class participation grade will be based on how effectively and
consistently you contribute to class discussions. While I am interested in your
opinions about various issues and speaking up in general on a regular basis will
count to a certain degree what I will be mostly be evaluating you for is the extent
of your intellectual engagement with course materials, discussions, and issues.
In other words, your in-class oral contribution should reflect your knowledge and
grappling with the readings and other course texts, including films, as well as the
professors lectures and commentary.

Please remember you are expected to complete assign readings before class. In
addition to your oral comments in, the instructor will assess your pre-class
preparation, consistency of effort, and willingness to work collaboratively in
various ways. You are expected to:

Come to class prepared to hand in two questions/comments in response to

each assigned article/chapter (to be collected by the instructor on a random
Complete other supplementary brief home-work tasks that might be
assigned at various junctures during the semester,
Engage in small group exercises,
and undertake in-class quick writes (we will begin most classes with quick
writes based on assigned readings).

Students might be called on to share their homework or in-class write-ups during

the class. In addition, the instructor might pose questions to specific students or
the class in general, not in a bid to put anyone in the spot but to ascertain the
extent of peoples knowledge of the readings or to initiate a discussion.
Class Facilitations (10%)
Students will be required to do an in-class presentation; this presentation will be in
conjunction with their assigned group members. This assignment has a twofold
1) It gives each student an opportunity to present their reactions and
critique of the Wks readings
2) It gives each student an opportunity to engage the class in discussion
around the readings.
Do not summarize the readings for the class, since it is my expectation that each
class member will read the assigned readings prior to class. Instead you will share

what you have gleaned from your critical reflection of the reading. What did you
learn? What troubled you? Do you agree or disagree with the authors? How does
the reading connect with you life experiences or other readings you have done?
You should feel free to share questions that you have about the readings, especially
those that will promote class discussion and help us to think about the readings in
new and insightful ways. These presentations are a good way for us to get to know
each other as a class. Be creative with the way you bring the class into the
discussion. Please see me if you have questions.
Social Positionality/Field Study Paper (25%)
This assignment has two parts
Part 1
You will locate an environment where you will be a racial minority. Contact the
leader of the group or organization in advance and ask permission to attend their
gathering. While you are participating ask yourself the following questions:
What do I see? How do I feel? How are people responding to my presence? What
am I learning about myself? What am I learning about others? How does this
relate to my own sense of self what I have read in class? Imagine the situation in
reverse, suppose a member of the group you are visiting finds themselves in a
situation where they are the racial minority, how would this changes things. What
would you imagine their experience to be? This is an opportunity to examine and
think about how inhabiting an identity informs the lenses through which you see
and understand socialization and oppression.
Consider how your preconceptions, biases and conceptions were affected by this
field study. This part of the assignment will entail a critical examination, and
hopefully interrogation of your race, class, gender, nationality and other identities.
This part of the assignment will also help you begin to understand how and why
you see the world as you do and help you to begin to develop and express your
own social positionality. You must submit a site proposal no later than Wk 3 and
your visit must be done no later than Wk 5.
Part 2

Social Positionality/Field study paper is due in the dropbox on BB and a hard copy
in class on Wk 8. This paper (4-6 double-spaced pages, with a 12 pt. font and allaround 1.25 margins) will focus on the delineation of your relationship to
multiple levels of power structures in our global society. In other words, the
point of the assignment is to map your own positionality, your place in the global
social relations, in the very terms that are under discussion in this course. You will
attempt to locate yourself at different levels of analysis: global, national, local,
familial, and so on, so forth. This entails a critical examination, and interrogation,
of your race, class, gender, national, and other identities (the terms identity and
positionality will be used interchangeably below; that is, when using identity it
is understood asat least partiallya socially imposed perception with
implications for how you will be treated along different axes of power relations
locally and globally).

Consider some of the following questions in particular:

What label would you place on your identity? What label would
others place on your identity?
What factors have helped form your identities? Were they your
decisions, or were they decided for you?
How do different aspects of your identity interact with each
Does this change when interacting locally or stepping into different
global contexts?
How does your identity affect your daily life? Do you have sites
of privilege and sites of loss? One more than the other?
How do you think your identity will affect your future? What
bearing does it have on your political and economic prospects?
How does your identity affect your values, beliefs, and purpose in life?
Have you sought to challenge in any manner the identity imposed on
you in different institutional contexts? How successful have you been?
Why do you think this is the case?
Is it possible to have a thorough understanding of your identity
without an understanding of historic and current power relations
pervading global, national and local societies? If not, what more
would you need to learn about these power relations in order to have a
better understanding of your identity?
There are no right or wrong answers to many of these questions. I will grade
the depth of thought and critical reflection you gave the assignment, and not

how many of the questions you addressed, how many personal stories you
included, or how many aspects of your identity you considered.
Grading Rubric for the Social Positionality Paper
75 and Below: Very limited effort: little or no understanding of class material in
relation to ones positionality; superficial exploration of positionality; no
exploration of how the field study informed your understanding of your
positionality including race, class, gender and nationality; poor or very poor
writing and organization.
76-84: Limited effort; limited understanding of class material and field study in
relation to ones positionality. Good exploration of positionality including race,
class, gender and nationality. Writing and organization basic to good.
85-92: Deep exploration of ones positionality in relation to field study and course
material. Excellent exploration of positionality including race, class, gender and
nationality. Well written.
93-100: Superior completeness, depth, and complexity with regard to exploration
and understanding of class material and field study in relation to ones positionality
including race, class, gender and nationality. Flawlessly written.
Late paper policy: For every day a paper is late, you will lose 10% of the points.
Final presentation/creative project: (20%)
The purpose of this group assignment is to create an opportunity for students to
undertake collaborative in-depth investigations of the strategies, techniques, and
approaches, employed by individuals or organizations committed to addressing
social injustice and/or eradicating social inequalities at any level of analysis:
global, national, and local. You can discuss how participating in an organization or
continuing the work of an individual will affectively work toward a change in the
world. Of course, in the spirit of the course, I would especially encourage you to
scrutinize processes that appear to take into account the intersections of these
various levels. Since this is only a semester long project, I suggest you narrow your
investigation down to one organizations or one individual.
The scope and extent of your study will have to be carefully honed after discussion
within your group and with the instructor. Scrutiny of written material available
through the library and other sources, interviewing, and participant observation are

some of the information gathering techniques you should employ.

Key components of the investigation include:
an understanding of the ideology or perspective motivating the desire for
social justice;
the conception of social justice driving the approach;
the concrete strategies or path being undertaken to eradicate inequities and
disparities; and
the impact of these strategies on actual peoples lives.
Remember that although you will be striving for as much academic rigor as
possible, your preconceptions, biases, and perspectives will affect your
investigation. Awareness of these biases, and perspectives would lead to different
conclusions, evaluations, and so forth is standard practice for critical thinking.
A proposal (doesnt need to be more than a page) outlining the focus of your
presentation, the members of your group, the steps you will take to gather the
required information, a realistic timeline for the realization of these steps, and the
format for the presentation is due at the beginning of class on Wk 7. The proposal
should attend to the issue of the division of labor among the group. A group
should have four to six members. Class time will be allocated for meetings
between the instructor and each group in order to finalize projects. Presentations
will then be scheduled for the final two class sessions.
Each group will have a maximum of 20 minutes for their presentations (this
includes time for larger class involvement). The use of presentation props and aids
is strongly recommended, though not mandatory.
It is mandatory for students to attend each others presentations. Those who absent
themselves on days when fellow students are presenting will have at least 5
points taken off from their class participation grade.
Grading rubric for final presentation
Your understanding of the ideology or perspective motivating the individuals or
organizations desire for social justice: 20 pts
The conception of social justice driving the approach to the work being done by

the individual or organization: 20 pts

The concrete strategies or path being undertaken to eradicate inequities and
disparities: 20 pts
The impact of these strategies on actual peoples lives: 20 pts
Presentation quality: 20 pts





63 and Below

During the semester, students are expected to check their blackboard and
email accounts on a daily basis. The instructor will post information on
blackboard on a routine basis as well as send email messages to students (e.g.
updates of essential course information).
To access blackboard, use the following steps:
World Wide Web: Type
Login: Type username (i.e. jrose)
Password: Type in your PODS password.



Cellular phones, black berries, pagers, and laptops must be turned off and put
away during class.
The Faculty and Staff in the College of Community and Public Affairs are
committed to serving all enrolled students. The intention is to create an
intellectually stimulating, safe, and respectful class atmosphere. In return it is
expected that each of you will honor and respect the opinions and feelings of
If you are a student with a disability and wish to request accommodations, please
notify the instructor by the second Wk of class. You are also encouraged to contact
the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 777-2686. Their
office is in LH-B51. The SSD office makes formal recommendations regarding
necessary and appropriate accommodations based on specifically diagnosed
disabilities. Information regarding disabilities is treated in a confidential manner.
As a professional school within Binghamton University, the College of
Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) is committed to upholding the highest
professional standards of ethics and integrity. Students are expected to comply with
the Academic Honesty Code for Binghamton University
( Violations of the Code will be taken
seriously. Students should refer to the CCPA Ethics and Integrity policy available
in the CCPA Deans office.
All members of the university community have the responsibility to maintain and
foster a condition and an atmosphere of academic integrity. Specifically, this
requires that all classroom, laboratory, and written work for which a person claims
credit are in fact that persons own work. The annual university Student
Handbook publication has detailed information on academic integrity.
Binghamton University has obtained a license with to facilitate
faculty review for potential plagiarism of papers and projects in their courses,
which they are encouraged to do.

Students assume responsibility of the content and integrity of the academic work
they submit. Students are in violation of academic honesty if they incorporate into
their written or oral reports any unacknowledged published or unpublished or oral
material from the work of another (plagiarism); or if they use, request, or give
unauthorized assistance in any academic work (cheating). (CCPA Academic
Honesty Policies)
Neither plagiarism nor cheating will be tolerated in this class. Incidents of either
will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question, which will most likely
have a negative effect on the final grade. If you have any questions about what
constitutes plagiarism or cheating, PLEASE ASK ME!
All course readings are to be completed BEFORE class. Since we meet once a Wk,
it will be important to stay ahead with the readings. Class discussion will be driven
by class readings. Each class meeting will begin with what should be read for the
next class. If you miss class, you will be expected to ask other students what
readings are due before the following class.
Tentative Schedule (Syllabus is subject to change)
Wk 1
Aug 30


Wk 2
Sept 6
A Racialized
Caste System I

Introductions, Syllabus
Facilitator Teams
My teaching Philosophy

Capeheart, L. & Milovanovic, D.,

Chapter 4
Alexander, New Jim Crow, Chapters
Assata Biography, Chapters 1-11
Pedagogy of the Oppressed chapter

Wk 3
Sept 13

A Racialized
Caste System II

New Jim Crow, Chapters 4-6

Assata Biography, Chapters 12-21
Critical Race Theory Excerpt (BB)

Hand in site
proposal for

Film: Slavery by Another Name

Wk 4
Sept 20

Structures and
Social Justice I

Johnson, Chapters 1 to 4
Retributive Justice
Procedural Justice
Bricmont, Humanitarian
Imperialism, Introduction and
Chapter 1 (Power and Ideology)
Jonathan Timm, The Plight of the
Overworked Nonprofit Employee,

Wk 5
Sept 27

Structures and
Social Justice II

Johnson, chapters 5 to 8
Transformative Justice
Capeheart Chapter 5
Restorative Justice

Site visit must

be completed
this Wk

Bricmont, Humanitarian
Imperialism, Chapter 2 (The Third
World and the Rest) and Chapter 3
(Questions to Human Rights
Rosh Hashanah

Wk 6
Oct 4

Wk 7
Oct 11

Structures of

Judith Lorber, Gender Inequality:

Feminist Theories and Politics
(excerpt on BB)
Elsa Barkley Brown What has
happened here (BB)

Wk 8
Oct 18

Class Structures

Bell hooks, Class matters (excerpts

on BB; first two chapters)
Michael Yates, The Great Inequality
Excerpt from 23 Things they dont
tell you about Capitalism (Thing
David Harvey, Neoliberalism on

Wk 9
Oct 25

Capitalism and
Social Justice

Capitalism a short introduction:

What then is capitalism? pg
Excerpt from 23 Things they dont
tell you about Capitalism (Thing 1

Test #1

& Thing 5)
Rent is Theft, The Indentured
Rent is Theft, The Tale of Two
Harvey, Accumulation by
Film: And Inequality for All
Wk 10
Nov 1

Globalism and
Social Justice

Capeheart Chapter 6
Trask, From a Native Daughter
(excerpts, BB)
Film: Life and Debt

Wk 11
Nov 8

Social Justice
and the

Stephanie Mcmillan and Vincent

Kelley, The Useful Altruists: How
NGOs Serve Capitalism and
Do or Die, Give Up Activism,
Scholsberg Chapter 3 & 4 (BB)


paper due

Film: Gasland 2

Wk 12
Nov 15

for social justice

Bricmont, Humanitarian
Test # 2
Imperialism, Ch5 (Illusions and
Mystifications) and Ch 6 (The Guilt
BPP, Community Activities in The
Black Panthers Speak, edited by
Foner, p.167-182
BPP, Alliances and Coalitions
in The Black Panthers Speak, edited
by Foner, p.219-256

Film: Black Panthers: Vanguard of the

Wk 13
Nov 22
Wk 14
Nov 29

Wk 15
Dec 6

No Class (Thanksgiving)
for social justice

Group Presentations
Film: Chicano: The Struggle in the
Group Presentations