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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Political Science (PL SC)

PL SC 110 (GS;US) Rights in America (3) This course explores the historical and contemporary struggles of particular groups within American society to expand their rights.

PL SC 110 Rights in America (3)
(GS;US)

The American political system established in 1787 promised several fundamental things: (1) a social order not based upon aristocracy; (2) the rule of law; and (3) basic unalienable liberty. But some groups were excluded from these. This course explores the historical and contemporary struggles of particular groups within American society to expand their rights. We will explore the efforts of African-Americans, women and other marginalized groups to obtain basic liberty, equal protection and civil rights. As we discuss these groups, political institutions, and American politics we will focus on four overarching questions: (1) what is liberty; (2) why do some groups need to fight for rights; (3) how did the expansion of rights—or "rights creation"—come about; (4) and what is the role of courts in expanding, or not expanding, rights? Our exploration of rights in American will proceed one group at a time (i.e.., African-Americans, women). We will look first at the history of how rights developed for each group and then discuss the implications of this more generally for the state of equal protection and discrimination in the country. At the end of the course, issues that "push" equality claims into a new dimension are considered. These include movements for separatism in race and gender; the debate over reverse discrimination; speech codes; native Americans and peyote; giving personhood status to the fetus; polygamy; and animal rights.


General Education: GS
Diversity: US
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Summer 2006

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.