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Although less than 1% of Americans have a degree from the country’s top 30 colleges and universities, 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 41% of federal judges, 44% of the writing and editorial staff at the New York Times, 64% of Davos attendees, and 100% of Supreme Court justices do.Is this a positive sign that the United States is governed by its most talented and capable members who have risen through hard work and equal opportunity? Or a negative one pointing to the power of a corrupt and self-selecting elite? This course explores the theme of meritocracy–rule by the intelligent–in comparative perspective. We will look at both old and new arguments regarding the proper role and definition of merit in political society as well as take the measure of meritocracy in present-day Singapore, France, and the United States. The course concludes with a focus on the current debate over American meritocracy and inequality.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
three papers, take-home final exam, class participation
Political Science and Sociology majors, first-years and sophomores intending a Political Science or Sociology major
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses
PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Comparative Politics Courses