Identity, Diversity, and Public Policy
The position of those who collectively identify as a distinct group, generally seen as of minority status in the United States, an immigrant nation since its inception whose indigenous population was perceived as non-American, remains a volatile topic of debate that touches the core of American identity. In this course, we will focus on the status of a number of groups that have been identified as “minority” (leaving the term minority itself in question) within America’s cultural and political framework, examining how the debate over rights informs policy decisions and shapes identity and institutions. We will apply a range of theoretical constructs, seeking to define what “minority” status entails by studying how ethnicity, race, gender, sexual identity, national origin and religious identities, and their cultural expressions, play out in the public sphere. Attention will also be paid to community building - how public policies and leaders nurture or undermine collective identity and the communities they seek to build.