Open to advanced undergraduates with permission of the instructor (email@example.com).
What changes in Post WWII American society led to the current economic crisis and political stalemate? For almost seven decades following World War II the United States and the industrialized Western World experienced unprecedented economic growth and geopolitical dominance. The Cold War, a period of superpower nuclear threat, tuned out unexpectedly to be a period of relative global security. The primary leader and beneficiary of the Cold War was the United States. More recently new and unforeseen eruptions of violence and major geopolitical clashes have caused threats to political stability. Mounting crises in American and European economies have brought about economic downturn, disruption and austerity, also threatening world economies. Conservative forces have reasserted their influence in American society and reignited the Culture Wars of the last four decades; American society and the world order are in radical flux. This seminar introduces the perspectives necessary for an interdisciplinary approach to social change and the our uncertain political, social and economic lives. Readings will include Dorothy Lee, Valuing the Self; Hannah Arendt, On Violence ; John Kenneth Galbraith, The Good Society ; Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land ; John Lanchester's Why Everybody Owes Everybody and No One Can Pay ; writings of Barrington Moore Jr., and economists such as Thorstein Veblen, Amartya Sen, John B. Taylor, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.