This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022

SOC 13181-5: The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Schools, Race and Growing Up in an Unequal America

Instructor: Joel Mittleman

Congratulations. In earning your spot at an elite university like Notre Dame, you’ve won one of the central contests in America’s system of meritocratic competition: a competition that seems to get more intense every year. In making it to Notre Dame, you’ve also avoided getting caught in another central institution governing American life: the prison system. Over the last fifty years, the United States built a vast prison system that has no precedent in American history and no match in the world. In this seminar, we’ll apply a sociological lens to our own experiences of growing up in an unequal America. Using social science research, memoir, film, poetry and music, we’ll examine who gets ahead and who gets pushed off track in the sprint from childhood to college. Throughout the course, we’ll also engage one of the most urgent questions in American life: 65 years after Brown vs. Board, why does race still play such a big role in determining who gets set up for school success and who gets pushed toward prison?