This course addresses social and political issues from three angles. First, we present the issue by means of a short story. Second, we present the issue by means of a study in the social sciences. And third, we study how the study and the issue is being reported in the press and in blogs.
To give an example, in one unit in the course, we begin by presenting the issue of drug addiction through James Baldwin’s classic short story “Sonny’s Blues.” Second, we read the ground-breaking original article by Anne Case and Angus Deaton (2015) “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science documenting the rising trends of “deaths by despair” in the US. Third, we assess how the study is reported in the blog of the Brookings Institute by Janice Eberly and James Stock (2017) “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st Century” and in a series of newspaper articles including Erica Goode’s 2001 “For Users of Heroin, Decades of Despair”.