PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Winter 2017, Section 001 - Black Lives Matter
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


What’s really on your mind about race in America? From Ferguson and other deadly encounters between blacks and the police to Michigan, Missouri, and Yale, where students brought the Black Lives Matter Movement from the streets to college campuses, racism, racial injustice, and racial inequality are hot topics. Whatever our politics—left, right, or center—the devaluation of black lives is a problem in America that we all live with and cannot be ignored. This problem raises challenging social justice issues for a nation that proclaims to value equality and human dignity.

Here is a partial list of questions that will keep us busy.

  • What is race and racism?
  • What is racial discrimination?
  • When is it unjust?
  • What should we do about it?
  • How have racial discrimination and racial inequality been addressed in law and public policy?
  • Should legal and policy responses to racial inequality be race conscious, race-neutral, or non-race specific?
  • Should free speech and other values constrain how we address racial bigotry in society and on college campuses?
  • In addressing racial discrimination and racial inequality, what can we learn from other thinkers and movements, in the U. S. and abroad, addressing other kinds of non race-based discrimination such as discrimination based on religion, gender, caste, socioeconomic status, language, and sexual orientation?
  • What moral concerns animate the Black Lives Matter Movement?
  • Who is responsible for addressing them?
  • What are possible reforms for addressing these moral concerns in society, schools, the workplace, and on college campuses?
  • Are there permissible and impermissible ways of resisting the devaluation of black lives?

We will tackle these and other questions in our discussion-based seminar in which everyone will have an opportunity to determine what we read, watch, listen to, and discuss. From hip hop lyrics to movies, videos, artistic displays, and spoken word poetry any mode of expression may inform our discussion. We should select material that helps us better understand the devaluation of black lives, the injustice in this, ways of resisting it, and pathways to reform.

Course Requirements:

Grades will be based on class participation, class presentations, a short and a longer essay.

Intended Audience:

Course is open to 1st year students only.

Class Format:

3 hrs seminar/week


PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM

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