[New Syllabi]: 3 courses in sociology & social justice

As I mentioned in a post 2 months back I have recently been hired to begin two new jobs, both of which I am beyond excited to begin! While my work as the Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association will get into full swing in August, I have spent the past few weeks designing syllabi for my main job, as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology and Social Justice at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio!

Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘Michael, you’re moving to Florida?!’ No. That would be the University of Miami, named after the city of Miami. I am working at Miami University, named after the Miami River. University of Miami is a private university founded in 1925, and my employer, Miami University is a public university founded way back in 1809….more than a century before U of M, and more than 35 years before Florida was even a US state!

So while UM is what most folks think Im talking about, MU is actually far older, larger, and one of the eight original “Public Ivys”, a term coned in 1985 to describe public universities that according to Richard Moll, “provide an Ivy League collegiate experience at a public school price.” In a 2005 article discussing the experience of Black students at Public Ivys, the author describes them as “successfully competing with the Ivy League schools in academic rigor… attracting superstar faculty and in competing for the best and brightest students of all races.” According to the most often quoted college rankings, the U.S. News & World Report annual report, in 2016 the report noted that Miami University was ranked the 34th top public school and 5th for best undergraduate teaching at national universities!

With all that, and despite the frustration explaining the MU v. UM distinction to EVERYONE outside of Ohio, I am very happy to be joining the Miami team!  Of course it doesn’t hurt that the famed American poet Robert Frost described Miami University as “The most beautiful campus that ever there was.”


Robert Frost, looking very poetic

As soon as I signed on the dotted line and the job was official, I went into syllabi making overtime. This is truly one of my favorite parts of teaching and pedagogical design. The result is three new syllabi (and corresponding Canvas sites…far less fun to build), which I want to share here.

Since the courses do not begin for another six weeks, I consider this a time for peer-review, something I always try to do as part of my process. So feel free to have a read, and if you’d like to ask a question, suggest alternative content, or (kindly) point of strange errors I’ve missed, please do!





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