LEAD 310 Spring 2015 Leadership in Hard Times: Governance and Activism in America's Urban Crisis

Cross Listed as HIST385
Politics, the philosopher Hannah Arendt tells us, is a means of intervening in otherwise "automatic" processes. It follows that political leadership---whether exercised by elected officials or community activists---represents a vital instrument by which people may attempt to shape the social processes that structure their communities and their everyday lives. Seldom have American communities had greater need for creative and effective leadership than did American cities following the Second World War---yet seldom has this kind of leadership proven more difficult to realize. In the postwar years, cities, the drivers of the nation's phenomenal economic growth for nearly a century, confronted a host of new challenges: declining private investment; the out-migration of their middle and upper classes and, consequently, a new position as sites of concentrated poverty; persistent fiscal crises; seemingly endless ethno-racial conflict; and the rise of new epidemics---drug use, AIDS, and mass incarceration. By the mid-1960s, these challenges had come together in the public discourse to signify a general "urban crisis." This course will introduce students to the processes that have shaped American urban life since the Second World War (some of which, we will see, were in fact far from "automatic"). We will also examine how public officials and community leaders tried to intervene to shape those processes, what resources they could muster for doing so, and what came of their efforts---so as better to understand the possibilities and the limits of leadership in hard times. What kinds of leadership are possible when a zero-sum logic obtains, when social "problems" prove "insoluble," when "positive" action appears impossible? Must urban leaders operating in such conditions necessarily privilege the interests of a particular class? What happens when government and community leaders act upon incompatible visions of social justice and the public good?
Class Format: research seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: several short essays, weekly writing assignments, and a longer research paper with presentation
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Prerequisites: previous course in American politics or American history
Enrollment Preference: Leadership Studies concentrators
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada,LEAD American Domestic Leadership,LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 4009
LEAD 310 - 01 (S) SEM Leadership in Hard Times Division 2: Social Studies Mason B. Williams
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM Jesup 206 4009
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