To accommodate students' broad interests and diverse backgrounds, course requirements are flexible.



Special Note: students must receive a grade of C or better in a course for it to count
towards the fulfillment of their STPEC requirements.


STPEC juniors and seniors may register for these courses on SPIRE.
STPEC sophomores may request these classes by filling out a STPEC course add request form in the STPEC Program Office.

STPEC 391H: Junior Seminar I Antonia Carcelen

TueThurs 11:15-12:30
Schedule # 17301

This seminar is the first in the yearlong STPEC Junior Seminar Sequence. Junior I focuses on major theoretical currents in political theory and the historical circumstances that gave rise to those theories-in particular Liberalism, Marxism and Anarchism. Junior II will analyze contemporary social movements in the context of these (and other theoretical apparatuses). As this is an interdisciplinary class, we will be bringing in analytic tools from various disciplines- including economics and political theory-but always paying attention to the historical construction and reception of ideas.

Antonia Carcelen is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature.

This is a four credit honors course. Enrollment is limited to 25 students. STPEC majors only. PREREQUISITES: One Intro to Social Theory course and one Intro to Political Economy Course chosen from the STPEC Recommended Course List.

STPEC 392H: Junior Seminar IIChristopher Hamilton

TueThur 11:15-12:30
Schedule # 17302

The second half of the Junior Seminar sequence, Junior II focuses on a series of interrelated political, social and theoretical movements of the 20th Century. In Junior I we studied some of the driving forces behind the production of modernity as way to organize and understand the world. Junior II will pay particular attention to the way in which the political practices and philosophies of the 20th Century relate to the successes and catastrophic failures of modernism in complex and contradictory ways. Some of the topics addressed include the Russian Revolution, totalitarianism, anti/post-colonialism, the role of identity in political theory/practice and postmodernism. A major research paper of the student's choosing will be produced over the course of the semester allowing her/him to both (1) more deeply engage with a topic, including one that may not be discussed in the seminar, and (2) practice applying the critical methodological and theoretical tools developed in the STPEC curriculum.

Christopher Hamilton is a Master's Student in the Social Justice Education Program in the School of Education.

This is a four credit honors course. Enrollment is limited to 25 students. STPEC majors only. PREREQUISITE: Completion of STPEC 391H (the semesters may not be taken concurrently). This restriction will be enforced .


STPEC 393A: Writing for Critical ConsciousnessEthan Myers

Mondays 4:00-6:30 pm
Schedule # 16540

The STPEC Junior Writing Seminar focuses on individual development of voice. We will weave this theme through standard essay assignments, weekly response papers, cover letters and resumes, and a student-driven class project of your choosing. Since you and your classmates with be struggling together to find your voices, we’ll focus on peer-editing and tutoring techniques at the beginning of the semester. As we discuss peer-editing, we may consider issues of language and dialect, Black English, Standard Written English and feminism. The second half of the semester will focus on political, environmental, educational, cultural, and philosophical texts. Throughout all assignments I expect to see cultivation of your voice and communication of your own creative ideas. I encourage integration of ideas from your other courses and experiences. Be prepared to think critically and examine texts carefully. We will be sharing our writing with each other – be ready to give and receive constructive feedback.
This course meets only once a week; do not plan to miss any classes.

Ethan Myers has a Master's Degree in Literature and American Studies from UMass Amherst. Enrollment is limited to 20 students. STPEC majors only. Prerequisite: College Writing or equivalent.


All seminars are four credit honors courses. Enrollment for each seminar is limited to 20 students. STPEC majors only.
PREREQUISITE FOR ALL SENIOR SEMINARS: Completion of STPEC 391H with a grade of C or better (may not be taken concurrently with any Senior Seminar). This restriction will be enforced!
STPEC seniors may register for these courses on SPIRE.
STPEC juniors may request these classes by filling out a STPEC course add request form in the STPEC Program Office.

STPEC 491H: The Political Economy of the EnvironmentJames Boyce

MondayWednesday 2:30-3:45pm
Schedule # 17303

This course examines the political economy of environmental degradation (pollution and natural resource depletion) and environmental protection. In addition to the question of how economic resources are allocated between environmental protection and other ends, the course explores how resources are allocated among competing individuals, groups, and classes. Topics covered include environmental justice, tropical deforestation, and global climate change.

James Boyce is a Professor in the Economics Department at UMass Amherst.

STPEC 492H: Decolonizing Knowledge-Power: Afro-American & Native American Critical Theories and Social Movements – Águstin Lao-Montes

Wednesday 6:00-8:30pm
Schedule # 16555

This seminar will explore the relationship between vernacular traditions of critical thinking (in the Frankfurt school sense of critique of domination) in Afro-American and Native American histories, and their relationship with Black and Indigenous oppositional and transformative movements. The course will begin with a quick theoretical and historical overview of how the emergence of what we will call decolonial reason (with the writings of Native American thinkers such as Guaman Poma and Afrodiasporic thinkers like Cugoano represent alternative modernities and substantive critiques of western structures of knowledge, at the same time that they correspond to antisystemic movements championed by Black and Indigenous movements (like the Tupca Amaru rebellion and the Haitian revolution). Most of the semester will focus on new currents of Black and Indigenous thought in Latin America and the Caribbean and how they relate to the new wave of social movements and of dissident governments in the region. Some of the themes to be discussed will be: the political theory and indigenous feminism of the Zapatistas; Aymara philosophy, Amerindian movements, and the project of government led by Evo Morales in Bolivia; decolonial rationalities of grassroots development, political ecology, community self-government, and the decolonization of knowledge in the theory and praxis of the Afro-Colombian movement; convergences and divergences in Black and Indigenous critical theories and politics in the U.S. and Latin America. We will finish by tracing implications for university reform and for the political and epistemic shifts known as the left turn and the decolonial turn.

Águstin Lao-Montes is a Professor in the Sociology Department at UMass Amherst.

STPEC 493H: Research Methods and Social ChangeRamón Borges Méndez

Thursday 4:00-6:30 pm
Schedule # 17304

The main objective of the course is to expose students to some of the most important problems on methodological and applied research design. Policy makers and practitioners in the public, non-profit and private sectors frequently face the need of balancing "science" with the uncertainties and complexities of their practice (incomplete information, difficult causalities, exceptions, outliers, conflicting constituencies), while working in politically and economically shifting environments. Meeting such analytical and applied challenge requires using multiple methodological tools, such as surveys, needs assessments, case-studies, focus groups and interviewing, and combining qualitative and quantitative strategies. The course/seminar will, first, compare and contrast approaches to scientific inquiry: induction/deduction; interpretive-qualitative vs. quantitative research. In this section, we also highlight the implications of these different approaches for selecting topics of research, framing questions, choosing tools, and managing and analyzing data. Secondly, the course shows what are the main components of adequate research designs, and what tools are best suited to attain legitimate research results. Finally, we will address the methodological implications of distinct conceptualizations of poverty and inequality in different policy realms: human capital disparities by race and gender; housing discrimination; asset disparities; Sen’s capabilities approach; income inequality; non-income driven measurements of poverty. No previous experience with research or research methods is required, although helpful.

Ramón Borges Méndez is a Professor of Public Policy at UMass, Boston and an alumnus of the STPEC Program.


STPEC 498Y – Exploring the Intersection of Theory and PracticeKatherine Mallory

(aka “Practicum”) No Class Meetings
Schedule # 76055

This course fulfills the STPEC internship requirement. Students in this course undertake an internship of 120 hours or more in an organization of their choice, and engage in critical reflection on their experience. Fieldwork placements are identified and arranged by each individual student and must be approved by the instructor. Students are encouraged to use this class as an opportunity to synthesize knowledge gained in the classroom and test its applicability to “real life” situations.

The primary written assignment for the course is a 12-15 page (or longer, depending on credits) final paper emphasizing critical analysis of the student's experience in the organization and/or the organization itself. Analytical themes may include (but are not limited to): the interplay of organizational structure and mission; the strengths and weakness of various means of working for social change; the impacts of economic and/or financial conditions and structures on the organization; and dynamics of race, class, and gender both within the organization and in its interactions with the larger community. All students are required to apply an analysis of race, class, and gender.

To enroll, submit a completed STPEC internship contract before the end of add/drop. (Note: you must meet with Katherine and get her approval of your placement before you turn in your contract. She can be reached at .)

STPEC 494A: PraxisKatherine Mallory

Time and Date TBA
2 credits, graded
Schedule # 16553

This optional two-credit course is limited to students who are working on their STPEC internship requirement (STPEC 498Y). It is designed to provide support, structure and feedback for students writing their final internship paper.

Students in this course write four short (3-5 page) papers on assigned topics related to their internships. Topics include: mission, history and vision; organizational structure and funding; Marxian labor analysis; institutionalized oppression. Reading assignments are short. At the end of the semester, students can compile and revise their papers for the final paper for STPEC 498Y.

The class will meet either once weekly or biweekly from the second week of the semester. The day, time and location of the class will be announced during the beginning of the semester.

To enroll, contact Katherine Mallory at during the first week of the semester, so that she can inform you about the first class meeting.


The following courses do not fulfill any STPEC or university requirements

STPEC 197I: Intro to STPECKatherine Mallory; Sam Calero

Wednesday 4:00-6:30 pm
2 credits, graded
Schedule # 16558

This seminar is intended for students who are just beginning the STPEC major, whether as first year students or transfers. This class will be geared toward useful conversations like what is the STPEC Program really, how to read and use theory, and who are we that we care about social justice, and community building. Through horizontal discussion sections and field trips, 'Intro to STPEC' will engage students in a non-conventional learning atmosphere that challenges students to critically look at the relationship between our actions and theory.

This class will be taught by Katherine Mallory, STPEC Chief Academic Advisor, and Sam Calero, STPEC senior.

STPEC 296E: Slavery Today - Steven Hoeschele

Time: TuThur 2:30-3:45
3 credits, pass/fail
Schedule # 18558

This course will thoroughly examine real situations of contemporary slavery throughout the world, with approximately 60% of the geographical focus being on Africa. We will begin with a recent historical analysis of slavery and culminate with plans to end slavery once and for all by asking critical questions about modern political economy and drawing connections from past slave trades to 21st century trafficking.
With a student-facilitated approach to learning, we will research in depth several specific examples of today's slavery. We will study labor slavery and social servitude such as Mauritania's peculiar form of slavery and its cultural sources. We will examine human trafficking as well as sexual slavery with either religious roots or purely capitalist underpinnings. Students will see the horrors borne of war as they appear in Sudan and through child conscription.

An examination of the political economy behind contemporary slavery and trafficking is in order, scrutinizing wage slavery and debt bondage. We will ask what effects NGO's, multilaterals, and national aid agencies have had on either alleviating or worsening slavery in its many forms. Students may never again look the same way at certain products—like chocolate, coffee, bricks, rugs, and charcoal—which may have been made by slaves' hands.

This class will be facilitated by Steven Hoeschele, STPEC student.

STPEC 296A & C-Z: Student Taught Colloquiums - 1-3 credits

Students may offer a colloq (for 3 credits - graded) or take a student taught colloq (for 1 credit - pass/fail). Any students wishing to offer a colloq for the Fall of 2007 should speak with both Sara Lennox, Program Director, and Deborah Reiter, Program Coordinator, as soon as possible.

Click here for more information on student taught colloquiums

STPEC 298Y, sections 1-3: Practicum (1-12 credits, mandatory pass/fail) No class meetings
STPEC 398Y, sections 1-3: Practicum (1-12 credits, graded) No class meetings

These two options are for students doing elective internships (i.e., this course does not fulfill the STPEC internship requirement). The primary differences between the courses are grading (STPEC 298Y is pass/fail) and recommended final paper length: students in STPEC 298Y write about 2-3 pages per credit, and students in STPEC 398Y write about 3-4 pages per credit.

Students in these courses receive one credit for every 40 hours of work that they complete in an organization of their choice. They must find a faculty sponsor who is willing to grade their written work and submit a grade. The STPEC Internship Advisor can provide assistance with finding placements and faculty sponsors, but this is ultimately each student's responsibility.

To register, speak with Katherine Mallory (the STPEC Internship Advisor) and complete a STPEC Internship Contract by the end of add/drop. She can be reached at

STPEC 298Y: Section 4: Peer Advising in the STPEC Office

Time to be arranged
1-3 credits, pass/fail
Schedule # 76049

Advise current and prospective majors, participate in staff meetings, and help with other aspects of running the STPEC program. Provides the opportunity to become intimately involved with decision-making and program development. Requirements include helping with peer advising, reception and general office tasks in the STPEC Program Office, a written evaluation paper at the end of the semester, attendance at several skills seminars and weekly attendance at the STPEC staff meeting. Students are also encouraged to engage in special projects of their own design which will be beneficial to the STPEC community. Eighty hours per semester for two credits, pass/fail. STPEC majors only. To register please speak with Katherine Mallory, STPEC Internship Coordinator or Deborah Reiter, STPEC Program Coordinator.