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Race and the Environment (syllabus will be coming soon)
Each semester, this course will comprise a case study in which we conduct an in-depth analysis of a different urban Black neighborhood in the United States (e.g., Englewood in Chicago, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, or Anacostia in Washington, D.C.), as a means to study how race and racial inequality is writ in, shaped by, and experienced in the environment. In the United States, place is fundamental to the ways in which race is felt, and race is fundamental to the places people inhabit. Environmental risks--from natural disasters to more expensive mortgages--are imbued with the country's racial hierarchies. So too are desirable environmental characteristics, like attractive urban design, convenience, safety. Inasmuch as environmental risks and rewards reflect institutional policies and practices, they are always freighted by race. In this course we will focus on one neighborhood over the course of the semester in order to closely interrogate the inevitable tensions between race and physical and social environments. We will identify where we see race in urban environments, assess how racial inequality persists in space over time, and think about porous borders between bodies and built environments. To do so we will study our target neighborhood from as many angles as possible. Students will read broadly in social science and humanities literature, examine media discourse, and work with a variety of other texts. Throughout the course, students will bring a variety of perspectives and analytic tools to bear, employing methods that range from archival research with municipal files, to quantitative and statistical analyses of public data. By circulating the products of this research amongst the class, students will take a collaborative role in defining the course readings. The course will culminate in a final written project, with an eye towards developing independent research skills and synthesis of diverse information. Course content and process will ideally position students to critically evaluate contemporary environmental challenges in U.S. cities.
- Kwate, Naa Oyo