The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Education and Film": Education 167 (GenEd DUSB) Fall 2022

Students will live together in Thoreau Hall in the Southwest residential area.

Read what Fall 2022 instructor Ali Soken has to say about the course 

What do movies such as Freedom Writers, School Ties teach us about education, society, and our identities? Does the way media represent a school, students, and teaching reflect or reproduce our views about particular students and schools? What and how do media teach us, and why does it matter?

In this course, we will:

  • Examine media representations of teaching and schooling – we will watch movies and documentaries
  • Analyze film as both a product and producer of American society and culture
  • Learn to identify and understand dominant educational ideologies and the real-world impact these ideologies have
  • Conduct critical media analysis based on gender, social class, race, sexuality, ableism
  • Reflect on our own identities and educational experiences
  • Have fun!

"Problems in Social Thought" - Philosophy 170 (Gen Ed SB) Fall 2022

Students will live together in Kennedy in the Southwest residential area. 

Read What Fall 2022 instructor Moises Macias Bustos has to say about the course: 

Individuals have moral values and they seek to approach their relationships with others in a way which reflects those values. This course explores the intersection of philosophy and politics. Throughout the semester we will investigate the connection between the moral values people have and how society should be arranged as a whole to reflect those values. We will address these three crucial questions: 

  1. Given some prior moral commitments, such as valuing freedom or equality, how should people organize politically in order to make good on those commitments? 
  2. Suppose we can discover how society should be organized politically given our moral values.
  3. What economic, technological or environmental constraints stand in the way of implementing this vision? 

To address such questions we will be reading some important works of political philosophy supplemented by thought-provoking readings exploring connections between philosophy, economics, technology and worldly complexity. I will provide detailed guides to these difficult issues and provide assistance throughout. We will consider questions such as: 

  • Why care about politics at all? 
  • What is the nature of the state? 
  • Is the state morally justified or should people live in a stateless society? 
  • Why is liberty important? 
  • What does the state owe its citizens? 
  • Is equality more important than liberty or the other way around? 

As the semester progresses, we will take the abstract philosophical principles we have learned and apply them to real life questions related to topics such as global warming, and the impact of artificial intelligence. 

We will consider the role that economic constraints play in our attempt to construct a morally principled society. These are questions are any policy maker should consider when framing policy in response to a complex world.

Exploring Society