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School of Critical Social Inquiry Curriculum Statement

The School of Critical Social Inquiry includes historians, psychologists, anthropologists, economists, sociologists, political scientists, and lawyers as well as faculty trained in geography and urban studies; philosophy; cultural studies; and education. Many faculty orient their teaching and research toward specific geographic areas in the developing world. Others focus on Europe or the United States, including many with strong interests in African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos/as, or Native Americans. Many are interested in the social, political, and economic interrelationships of these different regions and communities in the increasingly mobile and transnational realities of the 21st century.

What unites us is our common commitment to understanding the processes of continually changing social and cultural formations and their implications for people's lives. As a consequence, we emphasize comparative, historical, and interdisciplinary approaches and encourage critical reflection from multiple perspectives. Faculty focus on a wide range of topics in their teaching and research, examining these from the perspective of individual and collective identity; social and cultural institutions; political economy; and our relationship to the natural world.

We consider class, race, and gender to be key categories of social analysis. As a school, we also acknowledge that heightened cross-border movements of goods, services, peoples, ideas, images, sounds, and structures of inequality affect virtually all aspects of social and cultural life, and require us to question previous certainties. The significance of these changes makes it even more important for students to acquire some facility in a second language and to fit one of our many rich study-abroad opportunities into their undergraduate years.

Regardless of the particular approach, all of us in the school recognize the importance of integrating scholarship with social activism, thus enriching both. We therefore encourage students' involvement in community-based internships and college-wide programs such as Community Partnerships for Social Change, Civil Liberties and Public Policy, Environmental Studies, Population and Development, Peace and World Security Studies, and Childhood Studies, as well as other programs and initiatives. Several Critical Social Inquiry faculty are also involved in the Community Engagement and Collaborative Learning Network that seeks to build a diverse range of in- and out-of-classroom collaborative learning opportunities and enable fruitful and sustainable partnerships with community-based organizations.

The school is a participant in the Culture, Brain, and Development Program (CBD), which encourages curricular initiatives at the intersection of psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience. Many school faculty and students are involved in developing the program over the next few years: a uniquely exciting opportunity. The program allows us to host visiting scholars; offer grants and internships for advanced students; and sponsor colloquia, conferences, and new, collaboratively taught, cross-school courses. The school had also received a generous external grant with which we constructed a Global Migrations Program. This program provided an opportunity to initiate new and innovative curricular offerings in, for example, the changing meaning of citizenship, nationalism in the post 9-11 era, and transnational identities in the wake of globalizing economies.

 
 

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