A New MOOC on Poverty and Inequality

A new on-line course on poverty and inequality that introduces students to (a) the science of adjudicating among possible sources of poverty and inequality, (b) the science of assessing the effects of poverty and inequality, and (c) the science of evaluating interventions designed to reduce poverty and inequality. We depart from typical MOOC offerings by moving beyond the single-professor format and exploiting the capacity of MOOCs to feature in one seamless package the wide range of professors, scientists, and policymakers whose scholarship has defined the field. We ask leading scholars to describe the puzzle motivating their research, the process of discovery, the implications of the discovery, and the puzzles that remain unsolved.

Check out the proposal.

Controversies About Inequality (SOC 141 & 241)

A unique course built around debates about pressing poverty and inequality issues. The class prepares by reading relevant texts, then hosts a full-on public debate between top scholars, and follows up with a debriefing in which we get to the heart of the differences. Examples of past debates:

  • What Duties Do People in Rich Countries Have to Relieve World Poverty? Peter Singer (Princeton University) vs. Richard Miller (Cornell University)
  • Why is There So Much Incarceration? Lawrence D. Bobo (Harvard University) vs. Christopher Uggen (University of Minnesota)

Check out a sample syllabus.

Introduction to Social Stratification (SOC 140 & 240)

The trajectory of inequality seems especially unclear now. This class is therefore structured around posing and answering key questions about where we’re going and how we’re getting there. Why is income inequality increasing in many countries? Is residential segregation increasing too? Has the historic decline in gender inequality begun to stall out? Is there less social mobility now than before? Are educational degrees, social contacts, or luck increasingly important in matching individuals to jobs and class positions? Has discrimination weakened with the transition to late modernity? We attempt to answer these questions by examining past trends and the forces behind them.

Check out a sample syllabus.

New Models and Methods in the Social Sciences (SOC 384)

Throughout the social sciences, there has been an explosion of new research methods and statistics, with the result that standard graduate course sequences often cover a declining proportion of the methods and statistics that actually appear in leading journals. This course addresses the explosion of new methods and statistics by bringing in nine leading experts who then teach concentrated one-day modules on each of the main new developments in geographic information systems, experimental methods, survey methods, network models, simulation models, causal estimation, regression methods, "data scraping," content analysis, and more.

Check out a sample syllabus.

Social Stratification (SOC 340)

This course reviews contemporary models of the distribution of valued goods and the processes by which inequality comes to be seen as legitimate or natural. Although egalitarian values are a fundamental feature of our post-Enlightenment heritage, these values exist in tension with the extreme and often increasing inequality in the late modern world. The purpose of this course is to understand how we reconcile our commitment to equality (esp. equality of opportunity) with the typically substantial departures from it.

Check out a sample syllabus.

Inequality Workshop (SOC 341)

A graduate workshop devoted to presenting, critiquing, and improving research in progress. If we’re going to get paid to do research, we have an obligation to select research problems that truly matter and to complete research of the highest quality.

A sample workshop schedule.