This page describes courses that I have designed as the instructor of record. Course syllabi are available upon request.

Nice White Parents

In Fall 2020, I received a fellowship to teach a six-week course called Nice White Parents, through the Special Opportunities in Undergraduate Learning (SOUL) program at Johns Hopkins University. In this course, students are asked to critically engage with Nice White Parents, a five-part podcast series produced by Serial and The New York Times. In this podcast, reporter Chana Joffee-Walt follows the sixty-year history of educational inequality and racial segregation in one Brooklyn school, using this school as a case study to discuss broader issues of racial inequity and educational access through the lens of “arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.”

Drawing on Joffee-Walt’s podcast as a case study, students in this course learn to think critically about issues of race, education, and social inequality. By pairing podcast episodes with scholarly writings by sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, and education researchers, this course is designed to provide undergraduate students with an accessible introduction to the academic study of education, social inequality, and structural racism. A final paper asks students to choose one topic related to educational inequality and write a short paper comparing scholarly and media portrayals of this topic.

The Geography of Opportunity

The schools that children attend and the neighborhoods in which they live are critically important sites of mental and physical development, socialization, and academic achievement. These contexts in which children live and learn are also highly segregated by race and class, resulting in spatially stratified opportunities for social mobility – what social scientists call “the geography of opportunity.” This course explores social inequality through the lens of space, place, and geography, with a particular focus on how these dynamics shape educational inequality in the United States. Drawing on readings from sociology, demography, psychology, history, economics, urban planning, and public health, this course will teach students to think critically about how individual choices and public policies interact with dynamics of space and place to create and maintain social inequality.

This course aims to provide students with a better understanding of social inequality among children and their families in the United States, along with the role of space, place, and geography in creating and maintaining social inequality. After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify key historical, political, and social forces which shape the spatial distribution of resources among children and families
  • Distinguish between space, place, and geography, and describe how these concepts shape inequalities in children’s short-term outcomes and long-term development
  • Describe different research methods social scientists use to study geospatial dynamics of inequality, and compare the advantages and disadvantages of these methods
  • Develop their own critical understanding of how geospatial dynamics and place-making activities interact with public policies to reduce, maintain, or exacerbate social inequality, enabling them to apply this critical lens to other domains of public policy and social life

This course will be offered as an upper-level undergraduate course in Spring 2022 through the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.

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