Instructor Insights

Instructor Insights

Ariel White, Assistant Professor of Political Science, at work in her office on the MIT campus.

Below, Prof. Ariel White describes various aspects of how she teaches 17.269 Race, Ethnicity, and American Politics.

"We always come back to the one question that is the subheading of all my classes: Why is social science so difficult?"
— Ariel White

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

Unrestricted elective credits


17.269 was offered for the first time in Spring 2017.


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 50% Papers (2)
  • 35% Final exam
  • 15% Class participation

Student Information


Fewer than 10 students

Breakdown by Year

Mostly sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Typical Student Background

The class was racially and ethnically diverse, and students brought their different experiences with race to our discussions. Most students also brought some intuition about social science research to their work in the course.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total.
  • Class sessions were discussion-based, and some included reading quizzes.
  • During the final module of the course, students watched a screening of the film “13th”, directed by Ava Duvernay (2016).

Out of Class

  • Students completed readings and prepared two papers.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples
grading Exams
co_present Instructor Insights