A Few Totally Awesome Courses that Will Teach You All About Inequality

December 15, 2017
A hand-drawn photo of a stack of books that would be read in courses about inequality.
Art by Kirsten Hemrich. 

Why do we attend this amazing university? What do we trust the University to teach us?

I’ve spent some time thinking about this recently. Do we want to leave college as the same people we were when we entered? Do we want to go unchallenged and unchanged? I definitely don’t think so.

The University uses graduation requirements to ensure its students are well rounded when they graduate, but are these graduation requirements sufficient, when students can avoid (or not even know about) classes that address social inequalities? Sure, one class on social inequality won’t change everyone’s mind, but if the University has the ability to make at least a handful of students more open-minded and socially-aware, isn’t it worth it? The University should strive to help its students become the best global citizens they can be, and there are a host of professors at UVA already leading the charge, in a handful of different departments.

Courses that address social issues are wonderful for the way they unbalance the very way we think. How can we grow as humans without disruptions, challenges, and exposure to difference?

“So,” you say, “I want to take a course that will help me learn about inequality and activism; I just don’t know where to start.” Never fear! Here’s a starter list of great courses, taught by inspiring professors. Try a couple, and explore more on your own, for a truly transformative education at UVA. If you find you enjoy your experience and want to take more courses like this, you’ll be surprised by the variety of options available!

HIUS 3654: Black Fire

Have you ever been curious about University history, but feel that most of the history we learn about UVA is very white? Well, in this course you will examine the history and contemporary experiences of African Americans at UVA from the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the present era. Claudrena Harold is incredibly inspiring and passionate about the topic she teaches, and everyone I’ve talked to who has taken this course has absolutely loved it. Take this course if you want to learn more about racial inequality specific to the University, in a class designed to engage students and promote critical thinking.

WGS 3110: Queer American History

How often do you hear specifically about LGBTQ history? Not very often, I’d say. Taught by Doug Meyer, this course focuses on a 20th century history of LGBTQ activism in the US, its different movements and historical figures, and also provides an examination of the very formation of heterosexual and homosexual identities. There is nothing quite like being able to reach into our past and pick out amazing figures who have fought for the rights that are taken for granted today. It is also amazing to realize how much of this history is submerged despite being a large part of the history of the US.  

WGS 3340: Transnational Feminism

Have you ever wanted to learn more about feminism, especially the ways it manifests around the world? Taught by Amanda Davis, this is a class that examines feminism from a global perspective. It’s a great way to learn how issues that are important to feminism affect women’s lives on a global context. These issues include violence, economic marginality, intersections of race and gender, and varied strategies for development. This class provides a great global perspective and a look into the issues facing women in across cultures.

WGS 2100: Intro to Gender and Sexuality Studies

If you can’t decide which issues you want to study closely, this is a good class for you. This course takes a broad look at gender studies, including the fields of women's studies, feminist studies, LGBTQ studies, and masculinity studies. You will examine historical movements, theoretical issues, and contemporary debates, especially in relation to issues of inequality and the intersection of gender with race, class, sexuality, and nationalism. The best thing about this course is that it makes these issues accessible to people who have never been exposed to them before and provides a space to learn about them incrementally. Unlike many other intro courses, this one isn’t a drag!

 

Contribute a Story!

Have an idea for Iris? Send it to us!