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Education Studies

Year:

2022-23

120, 220 Reading, Writing, and Teaching

(Writing Intensive) (Offered as ENGL 120, AMST 120 and EDST 120) ​​This course considers from many perspectives what it means to read and write and learn and teach both for ourselves and for others. As part of the work of this course, in addition to the usual class hours, students will serve as weekly tutors and classroom assistants in adult basic education centers in nearby towns. Thus, this course consciously engages with the obstacles to and the power of education through course readings, through self-reflexive writing about our own varied educational experiences, and through weekly work in the community. As an Intensive Writing course, this class further supports students as they hone deep reading strategies and multi-step writing processes themselves.

Although this course presses participants to reflect a great deal about teaching, this course does not teach how to teach. Instead it offers an exploration of the contexts and processes of education, and of the politics and desires that suffuse learning. Course readings range across literary genres (ex: essays, poems, autobiographies, and novels) in which education and teaching figure centrally, as well as readings from other disciplines, which may include ethnography, sociology, psychology, and philosophy. As part of the work of Intensive Writing, students will examine not only the content of these readings but also how they are constructed. Specifically, they will study rhetorical features (ex: audience awareness and genre expectations), as well as the structures of argument and analysis, with an eye on developing reading and writing skills they can use in other courses across the College.

Ultimately, students will come together as a community of writers who support one another as they reflect on their experiences as tutors and develop their own academic writing voices.

Preference given to first-year Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Lecturer Reardon.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

121 Writing the College Experience

(Offered as EDST 121 and ENGL 121) This course considers belonging and community in the college context, with a focus on reading and writing as part of a practice of making meaning of the college experience. Students will learn about the history of higher education as they research and reflect on the contemporary college landscape. They will analyze learning as a process: how it is understood by scholars and teachers; how it is shaped by cultural and rhetorical contexts; and how students engage with it. The course will consider equity and access and how students’ intersectional identities (i.e.: how class, race, gender, and disability, among others) impact the way they navigate college. As part of the work of this course, students will collaboratively work toward a community-engaged project centered on college access.

Assigned texts will include a range of sources (books, articles, podcasts, videos) from literature and education studies. As they read, listen, and view materials, students will examine not only their content but also how they are constructed. Specifically, they will study rhetorical features (ex: audience awareness and genre expectations), as well as the structures of argument and analysis, with an eye on developing reading and writing skills they can use in other courses across the College. Ultimately, students will come together as a community of writers who support one another as they reflect on their experiences and develop their own academic writing voices.

Preference given to first-year Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Lecturer Reardon.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

135 Justice

(Offered as POSC 135 and EDST 135) This course will explore the meaning of justice and its realization in everyday life. We will consider individuals’ perceptions of justice and the significance of the concept in the relationship between citizens and government. We will examine how social movements attempt to seek justice and how this quest for justice defines their strategies and goals. And finally we consider how efforts to seek justice are realized, delayed, or blocked in institutional settings, such as in workplace organizations, prisons, state bureaucracies, and the courts. The course will be taught in an “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program” format, enrolling equal number of students from Amherst College and a Prison. This course will be taught at a local jail. 

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

200 Race, Education, and Belonging

(Offered as AMST 200, EDST 200, and SOCI 200) Disproportionate numbers of students of color drop out or disengage from schools in America each year. Responding to the framework of “drop out,” critical educational scholars have argued that many school practices, policies, and cultures “push out” already marginalized students, or at the very least, do not take sufficient steps to create an inclusive culture that supports all students’ participation and sense of belonging. This course examines the ways in which race and racism influence political, social, cultural, and institutional belonging. This interdisciplinary course will draw on theory and research from the fields of education, sociology, and ethnic studies to examine the conditions of schooling that prompt students’ formal and less formal forms of school disengagement. We will explore how educational institutions, educators, and their community partners support students’ access to and engagement with education. We will examine educational reform practices that strive to cultivate a culture of belonging and community in schools. As part of this course, students will collaboratively work toward a community-engaged project centered on college access.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

203 Youth, Schooling, and Popular Culture

(Offered as AMST 203, EDST 203, and SOCI 203) What do we understand about schools, teachers, and students through our engagement with popular culture? How do we interrogate youth clothing as a site of cultural expression and school-based control? How do race, class, and gender shape how youth make sense of and navigate cultural events such as the prom? Contemporary educational debates often position schools and popular culture as oppositional and as vying for youth's allegiance. Yet schools and popular culture overlap as educational sites in the lives of youth. In this course, we will employ feminist, critical race, and cultural studies perspectives to analyze representations of schooling and youth in popular culture. By doing so, we will consider the historically shifting meaning of youth, interrogate an oppositional stance to school and popular culture, and examine relationships of power and representation in educational sites. Readings, class discussions, and frequent film screenings will support our examination.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

206 Psychology of Play

(Offered as PSYC 206 and EDST 206) This course will explore how children learn through play. The first part of the course will focus on defining play and exploring researchers’ differing perspectives on whether children can learn by playing. The second part of the course will involve visits to the Beneski Museum, the Holyoke Children’s Museum, and Amelia Park Children’s Museum to explore the role of museums in studying and advancing children’s playful learning. Students will learn about the unique strengths and weaknesses of museum-based research and how socio-economic, educational, ethnic, and racial factors affect how children and families interact with museum exhibits. To extend this understanding, the class will travel to the University of California-Irvine during spring break to explore how researchers there are creating community-based learning opportunities for children and families from diverse backgrounds living in the Santa Ana community. The third part of the course will be devoted to designing interventions that will encourage playful learning goals established in cooperation with the director and administrators at Amelia Park Children’s Museum in Westfield, MA. These interventions will be designed in small groups and implemented in the museum. This class requires a significant amount of work and travel that takes place outside of class meeting time. Enrollment will be decided via an interview process during preregistration. 

Requisite: PSYC 100. Limited to 15 students. Offered spring semester. Professor Palmquist.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020

208 Power and Politics in Contemporary China

(Offered as POSC 208, ASLC 208, and EDST 208) This course provides an introduction to the major institutions, actors, and ideas that shape contemporary Chinese politics. Through an examination of texts from the social sciences as well as historical narratives and film, we will analyze the development of the current party-state, the relationship between the state and society, policy challenges, and prospects for further reform. First, we examine the political history of the People’s Republic, including the Maoist period and the transition to market reforms. Next, we will interrogate the relations between various social groups and the state, through an analysis of contentious politics in China including the ways in which the party-state seeks to maintain social and political stability. Finally, we will examine the major policy challenges in contemporary China including growing inequality, environmental degradation, waning economic growth, and foreign policy conflicts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Associate Professor Ratigan.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

214 What's So Great About (In)Equality?

(Offered as LJST 214 and EDST 214) In our world, commitment to "equality" in one sense/form or another is nearly uncontested. At the same time, the form that it should take, its normative ground, scope, limits and conditions, the ways in which it may be realized, and much else are deeply contested. It is also the case that the world in which we live is characterized by profound, enduring and intensifying inequalities and numerous exceptions to the principle. These may be justified with reference to various countervailing commitments that are accorded ethical or practical priority (desert, liberty, efficiency, political stability, ecological integrity, pluralism, etc.). This suggests that while for many "equality" may be normatively compelling, its realization may be subordinated to any number of interests and desires; or, to put it bluntly, there may be such a condition as too much equality or not enough inequality, privilege and "disadvantage." This course treats these themes as they have arisen in distinctively legal contexts, projects and arguments. It will engage a range of debates within political philosophy and legal theory as to the appropriate limits of equality. While many forms and expressions of inequality have fallen into relative disfavor, some seem virtually immune to significant amelioration. Among these are those associated with social-economic class. Following general investigations of egalitarianism and anti-egalitarianism in social thought and legal history, we will devote closer attention to the legal dimensions of class inequality in contexts such as labor law, welfare and poverty law, education and criminal justice. We will conclude with an examination of the limits of legal egalitarianism vis-à-vis international class-based inequalities under conditions of globalization and cosmopolitan humanitarianism.

Limited to 30 students. Spring Semester 2023. Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2019

224 Intergroup Dialogue on Race

(Offered as PSYC 224 and EDST 224) This highly interactive course brings together students to examine the roles race and other intersecting identities play in their lives. Course work includes an interdisciplinary blend of scholarly readings, in-class dialogue, experiential learning activities, reflective writing, and an intergroup collaborative research project. Students in this course bring their own experiences with race into the classroom as a legitimate and valued source for learning. The course readings link students’ personal experiences around race to a socio-historical understanding of individual, institutional, and structural discrimination--to the ways social inequality is embedded in social institutions and individual consciousness, constraining life chances. Early in the course students engage in structured activities that develop trust among participants, and learn skills at intergroup dialogue--suspending judgment and listening for understanding--in order to create respectful, sustained dialogues around racial divisions.  Students engage in small mixed-race teams to research a racial inequality/inequity on campus. Students do reflective writing weekly linking their in-class experiences to the readings, as well as reflective writing at the end about their learning throughout the semester. The course exposes participants in a very intimate way to how classmates of different races see and experience the world, to the pain and trauma students of color may have undergone due to race, and to the privilege White students possess, whether or not they are aware of it.   Offered Fall semester.  Professors Hart and Aries.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

227 Developmental Psychology

(Offered as PSYC 227 and EDST 227) A study of human development across the lifespan with an emphasis on the general characteristics of various stages of development from birth to adolescence and on the determinants of the developmental process. The class will explore: 1) prenatal development, 2) the development of motor skills, cognitive skills, language, emotional understanding, attachments, and morality, and 3) the role of family systems in development. Students will engage with this content using contemporary research and real-world applications.   

Requisite: PSYC 100 or 212 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students per section. Offered Fall semester: Professor O'Carroll.  Spring semester: Prof. Palmquist.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

232 Political Economy of Development

(Offered as POSC 232 and EDST 232) This course surveys some of the principal themes in the political economy of lower-income countries. Questions will cover a broad terrain. What are the key characteristics of poor economies? Why did these countries fail to catch up economically with the West in the 20th century? Who are the key political actors? What are their beliefs, ideologies and motivations? What are their political constraints, locally, nationally and globally? We will review definitions of development, explanations for the wealth and poverty of nations, the role of ideas, positive and dysfunctional links between the state and business groups, the role of non-state actors, the causes and consequences of poverty, inequality, disease and corruption, the impact of financial globalization and trade opening, the role of the IMF and the World Bank, and the arguments of anti-developmentalists. We will look at the connection between regime type and development. (Are democracies at a disadvantage in promoting development?) We will also devote a couple of weeks to education in developing countries. We know education is a human good, but is it also an economic good? Does education stimulate economic growth? What are the obstacles to education expansion? We will not focus on a given region, but rather on themes. Familiarity with the politics or economics of some developing country is helpful but not necessary.

Limited to 24 students. Prioity given to sophomores. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

240, 243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900], EDST-240 and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Spring semester.  Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

265 Unequal Childhoods: Race, Class and Gender in the United States

(Offered as SOCI 265 and AMST 265) This course explores the ways in which race, class, gender and immigration status shape children’s lives. We begin by conceptualizing childhood as a social construct whose meaning has changed over time and that varies across context; for class privileged individuals, for example, childhood or adolescence may extend into the third decade of life, whereas for “others,” poverty and/or family responsibilities and community struggles may mean it scarcely exists at all. The bulk of the course draws from ethnographic scholarship focused on the relationship between childhood and inequality in key institutional contexts including school, family and the legal system. Through ethnography, we will critically examine the ways in which inequalities among and between groups of children shape their daily life experiences, aspirations and opportunities, and what this means for overall trends of inequality in the United States.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST-308, EDST-308 and SOCI-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

328 Indigenous Narratives: Creating Children's Stories about Native American History

(Offered as AMST-328, EDST-328, and HIST-328 [US/TR/TS])  Children’s literature has a diversity problem. A 2018 study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that of more than 3000 children’s books published that year, roughly 50% featured main characters who were White. Only 10% featured Black characters, 7% featured Asian / Pacific Islander characters, and 5% featured Latinx characters. (27% of the books surveyed featured animal characters.) By far the least represented group in children’s literature were Native Americans, who appeared in fewer than 1% of the books surveyed.

This course explores the ethics and impact of inclusive representation in children’s media. It focuses on the challenge of teaching young people under-represented histories, particularly when those histories engage with raw, difficult, and often still painful subjects. How can we tell historically accurate stories to children without whitewashing or sugarcoating the past? Why is the drive to make children’s media more inclusive critically important?  

 A major component of this course involves experiential learning. Working together in small groups, and with guidance from experts in children’s publishing (editors, authors, illustrators, librarians), students will research, write, and publish a book for children on a topic related to Native American history. Readings will combine scholarship about children’s literature and publishing, the importance of historical representation and storytelling, and Native American history. Students will engage directly with the local community through focus groups, discussions with Native American knowledge keepers and cultural consultants, as well as visits to local libraries and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This course is open to all and no prior experience is necessary, however students must be willing to work collaboratively, and will be required to attend one out-of-class field trip.  

Limited to 30 students.  Spring semester.  Professors Boucher and Vigil.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

331 Childhood and Adolescence

(Offered as PSYC 331 and EDST 331) This course will explore conceptualizations of childhood and adolescence in the United States today. Using both academic articles and media resources, the course will address topics such as early education and school readiness; play and extracurricular involvement; college access and attendance; mental health, self-esteem, and social media; and youth activism. We will use developmental psychology as the lens for most of our readings and discussion, although the course will integrate concepts from sociology, history, and education. We will also examine the roles of relationships (e.g., family, teachers, and peers) and contexts (e.g., policy, schools, and culture) on youth experience. In this reading-intensive course, students will be expected to engage in class discussions, write weekly response papers, conduct a youth interview and write an interview report, and develop a final presentation.

Requisite: PSYC 227. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor O'Carroll.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

337 Dilemmas of Diversity: The Case of Higher Education

(Offered as SOCI 337 and EDST 337) In this course, we will focus on the diversification of higher education. We will pay particular attention to efforts made by selective liberal arts colleges and universities to open their doors to students disadvantaged by barriers of racial discrimination and excluded by the means of class privilege. We will critically interrogate the concept of diversity and its implementation, paying attention to both successes and problems. Among these problems is the gap between a diversity promised and a diversity delivered.

We will employ sociological theories and concepts to explore this gap, the dilemmas it presents, and the cultural strategies that have emerged in response to them. Situating contemporary efforts of selective colleges and universities to diversify in historical context, we will pay particular attention to broader transformation of racial and class discourse in the United States in the post civil rights era, including federal efforts to address discrimination, Supreme Court decisions regarding race-based admissions policy, changes in corporate personnel policies, the rise of “colorblind” rhetoric, growing economic inequality, and the expansion of neoliberal policies and practices in higher education today. Drawing on this context, we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of diversity initiatives that have been put into place, the patterns of cultural change occurring on campuses, and the role social difference can play in constructing alternatives to inclusive communities as we presently envision them.

Students will be encouraged to work collaboratively and will employ a variety of methods to document systematically the current state of diversity on their respective campuses.

Requisite: SOCI 112 or equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Lembo.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

345 Model Minorities: Jewish and Asian Americans

(Offered as AMST 345, EDUST 345 and SOCI 345) The United States has long struggled with challenges created by the need to absorb ethnic and racial minorities. In the face of seemingly intractable problems, one solution has been to designate a “model minority,” which then appears to divert attention from the society at large. Earlier in the twentieth century, Jewish Americans played this role; today, Asian Americans are the focus. This course examines specific instances in which Jewish Americans and Asian Americans both embraced and rejected the model minority stereotype. Course units will also examine the underside of the model minority stereotype, quotas imposed to limit access to education and employment as well as social and legal actions taken in response to such restrictions. The course will feature a range of materials, including plays, fiction, journalism, and visual works. Students will read scholarship in the fields of American Studies, Sociology, History, and Critical Race Studies. The course will include a number of guest speakers.

Fall semester. Limited to 20 students. McCloy Visiting Professor Odo and Senior Lecturer Bergoffen.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

352 The Purpose and Politics of Education

(Offered as EDST 352, HIST 352 [US/TC/TR/TS], AMST 352 and SOCI 352) Focusing on the United States, this course introduces students to foundational questions and texts central to Education Studies. We will explore the competing goals and priorities Americans have held for primary, secondary and post-secondary education and ask how and why these visions have influenced—or failed to influence—classrooms, schools, and educational policy. We will pay particular attention to sources of educational stratification; the tensions between the public and private purposes of schooling; and the relationship between schooling and equality. 

In the first part of the course, students will reflect on how Americans have imagined the purpose of self-education, literacy, public schooling, and the liberal arts. Among the questions we will consider: What do Americans want from public schools? Does education promote liberation? Has a liberal arts education outlived its usefulness? How has the organization of schools and school systems promoted some educational objectives in lieu of others? In the second section of the course, we will concentrate on the politics of schooling. Here, we will pay particular attention to several issues central to understanding educational inequality and its relationship to American politics, culture, and society: localism; state and federal authority; desegregation; and the complicated relationship between schooling and racial, linguistic, class-based, gender, and ethnic hierarchies. Finally, we will explore how competing ideas about the purpose and politics of education manifest themselves in current policy debates about privatization, charters, testing, and school discipline. Throughout the course, students will reflect on both the limits and possibilities of American schools to challenge and reconfigure the social order.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen. 

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

374 Rights

(Offered as POSC 374, LJST 374, and EDST 374) This seminar explores the role of rights in addressing inequality, discrimination, and violence. This course will trace the evolution of rights focused legal strategies aimed at addressing injustice coupled with race, gender, disability, and citizenship status. We will evaluate how rights-based activism often creates a gap between expectation and realization. This evaluation will consider when and how rights are most efficacious in producing social change and the possibility of unintended consequences.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Honors

Independent work on an extended academic, creative, or pedagogical project on a topic relevant to the field. Thesis progress will be assessed by the department at the end of the first semester as a precondition for entrance to the next semester of thesis work. 

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022