January Term

Featured Online Course

Race and Justice in the Americas (POLT 547)

December 27 - January 17 100% online course

CRN: 30159, Credits 4.0

Instructor Bio: Mary Fran Malone, Ph.D.

Throughout the Americas many democracies have been built on foundations of racial and ethnic inequality, yet have managed to transcend these imperfect foundations. To understand how democracy has thrived despite the challenges of racial and ethnic inequality, this course examines how the justice system has addressed inequality in select cases throughout the Americas. Through this comparative perspective, students improve their knowledge and understanding of other cultures while exploring the evolution of similar issues in the United States. Fulfills World Cultures (Discovery), Foreign Culture GP 5.


Questions for Mary Fran Malone, Ph.D.

How does teaching this course online change your approach?

I chose books and articles that would really grab students’ attention and motivate them to share their thoughts and ideas online. For example, one of my favorite authors is Isabel Allende, who is known for stirring up controversy. Students will read her recent novel, Island beneath the Sea, and share their reactions in online forums. Books like this tend to generate a great deal of discussion, and I look forward to hearing what students have to say.

What most interested you about this subject matter?

The course covers a wide range of controversial issues related to race and justice, and invites students to think critically about how societies have responded to these controversies across time and place. For example, we’ll learn how the Jamaican economy and justice system reacted to the abolition of slavery, and how this compares to the experiences of the United States and Haiti. We’ll look at police profiling in Mexico City in the 1930s, and compare it to contemporary controversies in New York City. This course takes issues that we grapple with today, and adds an historical and geographical context to help us think critically about the status quo (and challenges to it).

Do you have a philosophy about learning?

First and foremost, I try to get students talking. I like to give students interesting things to read, and provide opportunities for them to think critically about these readings, and discuss their ideas with me and their classmates. When students are actively engaged in the course material, they not only learn the material well, they are also able to apply it to the world around them.