Teaching Race, Wealth and Inequality in American Politics at Liberal Arts Colleges and Beyond

16 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2010

Date Written: February 4, 2010


At this point, this paper is a draft and is in the midst of being a working paper. There is much information that will be added in the near future to the body of the paper as well as the works cited and appendices.

In this paper I look to discuss strategies and approaches used and lessons learned in teaching about race, wealth and inequality in American politics at a small liberal arts college. Some of the lessons learned can be generalized to many classroom settings; others may be more specific to the privileged and homogeneous environment found in the classrooms of small private liberal arts colleges. There are certain approaches that I must take as a younger professor who happens to be a Black Male, teaching majority White students about issues that could be perceived as controversial or make students uncomfortable. In teaching this topic area, I have learned as much or more from my students and their reactions as they have from me and mine.

In recent years and decades, wealth has factored in as a very important measure of equality in the United States of America. Arguably, race, wealth and inequality are the root of many possible problems or questions in American politics. The course discussed in this paper seeks to investigate some of the central causes and impacts of the above factors as they relate to American politics and public policy. Each time the course is offered, various approached are used in looking into the roots of the gap in wealth along racial lines and the factors which perpetuate the problem. Also, the ways in which the racial wealth gap impacts politics and public policy are examined.

This paper and the accompanying presentation seek to discuss the major issues and topics covered in the course. It then goes into discussing how such issues and topics can be taught to students who may feel no connection to the topic area. The hurdles faced in teaching such topics to majority white students from generally privileged backgrounds in a liberal arts setting are examined.

Keywords: race, wealth, inequality, politics, teaching, liberal arts, political science, black politics

Suggested Citation

Whitt, Christopher Matthew, Teaching Race, Wealth and Inequality in American Politics at Liberal Arts Colleges and Beyond (February 4, 2010). APSA 2010 Teaching & Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1547252 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1547252

Christopher Matthew Whitt (Contact Author)

Creighton University ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States
402-280-5121 (Phone)

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