Labor, Class and Ethics

Labor, Class and Ethics

The Labor, Class and Ethics minor (LCE) is intended to be an interdisciplinary experience for students wishing to deepen their understanding of the nature of work and social class.  These are realities which affect us every day, and will continue to affect students as they enter the workforce full time. More generally, understanding political discourse in America, the factors behind a myriad of global conflicts, the forces giving rise to mass immigration and the resistance to mass immigration, the status of women in the workforce and in the household, the nature of childhood education, the shape of our cities, and even the way we use and consume everyday products depends deeply upon a prior understanding of what labor is, and what class is. Work, and the people that perform work, literally shape the world around us.

However, the LCE minor intends to build upon an empirical understanding of work and class, and to challenge students to then think normatively about the state of labor today. Is it ethically unjust that working conditions in the developing world are generally inferior to those domestically? Do employers have a moral responsibility to hire American workers rather than immigrant labor, or outsourcing altogether? Is it right that there is a gender gap when it comes to wages, or is this simply a product of market forces? What, is anything, justifies the deep social inequalities we see today in America and around the world?

Students will be challenged to think critically about these and other issues, and to apply empirical knowledge to ethical frameworks so as to come to their own judgments about labor, ethics and class.

The Labor, Class and Ethics minor is open to all students, regardless of major. It is meant to compliment existing programs of study, and may be of particular interest to students in the social sciences, history, philosophy and religious studies (from where many of the electives are drawn.)

However, students interested in composition, journalism, business and pre-law may also be interested as an understanding of the forces behind major current events, the labor market, business-labor relations and labor law will enrich existing coursework, and potentially raise the profile of such students in applying for jobs, grants, internships and/or graduate programs.

No more than 9 credits from a student's major may count toward this minor.

SOC 237 Inequality and Social Class may count as an elective if ECO 161 International Economic Problems is also taken.

Additional courses will be considered for satisfying the elective requirements on a case-by-case basis.