Critical Issues for U.S.

MAX 123 - Critical Issues for U.S.

MySlice Info:

Term: Spring 2020
Class #: 31772
Section: M013
Credits: 3

Rupert,Mark Edward

Counts toward:
Dept Soc Sci, Interdisciplinary

Course Time(s):
TuTh 09:30am-10:25am

Bowne Hall 116

Course Description:

This course examines democratic citizenship and its obligations, public education in an era of new demands and increased disparities, health care access and outcomes, and the modern wave of immigration. In this examination, the following questions will keep popping up: How do we sustain a decent and caring society in an increasingly pluralistic environment? How do we remain secure and prosperous in an increasingly “borderless” world? How do we advance democracy’s prime values—equality and liberty—when these goals sometimes come into conflict? How do we shape effective public policies that remain respectful of both these values, while also obtaining the consent of the governed? What other tradeoffs between highly sought after “good things” are involved in effectively responding to the hard realities presented by contentious, complicated societal and global problems that finally work their way onto the nation’s public agenda for democratic action?

This is a course about a citizen’s duty to think broadly, fairly, deeply, and pragmatically about questions that do not have obvious answers and are open to sustained debate. Although as citizens we all start with the same obligation to think seriously about societal issues, in the end, we will not all share the same considered judgments about what society needs to do. Political differences, tempered and clarified by deliberation, are the stuff of democratic politics. Unanimous agreement is the false promise of utopian authoritarianism, of both the right and the left.

With respect to each of the issues taken up by the course, you will be asked to examine how your own thinking honors America’s lofty, shining ideals, and simultaneously how it takes into account the grubby, pesky facts. You will be challenged by classmates and instructors alike to answer other questions as well, such as: Is your position fair to all, or only advantageous to some? Will your proposal work if tried, or is it merely pie‐in‐the sky? Can we afford such an expensive public program? Can we tolerate the costs of the status quo?


MAX 123 and MAX 132 may be taken in sequence (either course may be taken first), or with other courses as listed in the Core Guidebook under Interdepartmental Sequences in the Social Sciences. Both courses count for Writing Intensive and Critical Reflections in the Arts & Sciences Liberal Arts Core.