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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
How to Make a Racist
How do children, with no innate beliefs or expectations about race, grow up to be racist? To address this complicated question, this seminar will introduce you to some of the cognitive, social, and cultural factors that contribute to the development of racial stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Over the course of the quarter, you will be introduced and asked to evaluate research from developmental, cognitive, social, and cultural psychology, which suggest that the factors that contribute to racist thought emerge early in childhood and persist well into adulthood. We will begin by defining key concepts (e.g., what is race and what is racism? What are the differences between stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination?). Then, in each class, I will introduce you to a factor that has been shown to contribute to racist thought (e.g., lack of intergroup contact, exposure to group-based language, belief in racial “essences”). Each introduction will be supplemented by readings. You will then engage thoughtfully and critically with each factor by sharing your own experiences, perspectives, and insights through class discussion and writing. Collectively, we will then discuss the real-world implications of each factor, as well as strategies on how to minimize their effects. Throughout the quarter, you will often work in small groups and will give at least one presentation. By the end of the quarter, you will have developed an understanding of the psychological factors that contribute to racist thought. Importantly, you will have also developed an understanding of how these factors contribute to your own thinking, as well as an understanding of some strategies that prevent them from doing so. Students with diverse experiences and perspectives are especially welcomed and encouraged to participate, and all students are expected to keep an open mind.