U.S. Politics, Public Policy and Social Justice

Course Description

This course takes a varied and multidisciplinary approach to understanding and analyzing historical and contemporary American politics and public policy and how they relate to social justice topics. As such, we will be utilizing a variety of resources to better understand American politics, including academic journals, articles, videos, podcasts, tweets and more, looking at the topic from multiple perspectives (politicians, scholars, journalists, etc.) and from various disciplines (history sociology, economics, etc.). Further, the course will be grounded in social justice theory from esteemed scholars and practitioners such as bell hooks, Howard Zinn, Ronald Takaki, Beverly Tatum, Gloria AnzaldĂșa and more. In our analysis of American politics, a large focus will also be on various social justice issues, including LGBTQ rights, educational inequity, immigrant rights and criminal justice reform.

In addition to having a better understanding of American politics, public policy and social justice theory, a big emphasis of this course will be on applying that knowledge. To complement the reading, viewing, or listening of course materials, you will also be expected to engage in virtual discussions, write short response papers, and complete an independent research project on a specific social justice topic of their choosing. They will analyze this topic from multiple lenses, make connections between course content and their own research, and consider the ways that they can use the knowledge to push for social change. For example, you might choose to focus on the rights of transgender people in a certain part of the United States and research the work that organizations are doing to support them, as well as policy alternatives (local, state and/or national) that might make the lives of transgender Americans better. The project will consist of a short research paper, with various check-ins throughout the duration of the course where the instructor will provide feedback, as well as a culminating presentation on the research.

As a result of taking this course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the general structure of the U.S. political system and how it shapes and is shaped by public policy.
  2. Use social justice theory to better understand the political landscape and different mechanisms for social change.
  3. Produce a short research paper that utilizes independent research about a specific topic and incorporates themes from the class.
After completing this course, you will be prepared for a college-level introductory political science or American history course. This course could also complement preparation for an AP U.S. Government and Politics course.

The course will include asynchronous content and prescheduled, required live sessions each week. These required live sessions are integral to the course experience. The following are anticipated times for the live sessions, one per week, between 12pm and 2pm EST or 5pm and 7pm EST. The instructor will confirm specific days and times with students prior to the start of class.

Note: This course is designed specifically for English Language Learners interested in further developing their English skills in a challenging college-level academic setting.


There are no required prerequisites for this course.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 22, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Mostly Asynchronous
Status: Closed
Format: Online
Instructor(s): Nicholas Fernald
Course Number: 10236