Contemporary cities are home to the richest people in the world and simultaneously are the sites of extreme forms of poverty and inequality. This course will challenge you to investigate, analyze, and take action on some of the social and economic inequalities that shape cities today. The class will focus on broad debates and narratives about progress, development, democracy, race, and equity, tying these large themes to how the contemporary city is produced, governed, and imagined. A number of different lenses through which urban inequality can be seen and analyzed will be explored including segregation, gentrification, environmental racism, policing, and the prison industrial complex.
Whenever possible, the city of Seattle will be used as a case study and laboratory where theories can be applied and challenged. Even in a liberal city like Seattle, approaches to social justice vary dramatically across local government, the non-profit industrial complex, and grassroots organizers and activists. We will examine these stakeholders varied responses to injustice as well as their visions of how to achieve justice. We will engage theories and practices of change-making through both study and action. Students will be involved in interactive learning about social justice through interviews, actions, and art. A goal of this class is to move beyond critique towards taking grounded ethical action.