ES.246 | Fall 2004 | Undergraduate

Current Events and Social Issues


This course, as part of the Experimental Study Group Seminar Series, offers students the opportunity to participate in a small discussion-based class taught by an MIT upperclassman under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. Students Claudia Gold (B.S. 07 Political Science) and Jocelyn Rodal (B.S. 06 Literature) taught this seminar in cooperation with Dr. Lee Perlman, Lecturer in the Experimental Study Group. Seminars taught in this format are all graded Pass/Fail and receive 1/2 of the academic credit assigned to regular academic classes.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Course Description

Welcome to Current Events and Social Issues. Our goal in this seminar is to have open discussions of political and social issues and to raise awareness of current events in an informal setting. We are hoping to have students from a variety of political persuasions. We want you to feel free to disagree with our own political opinions, which for the sake of openness we will not keep secret.

For the first part of each meeting, our discussion will focus on current events from that week. The second half will be supplemented by readings, films, and guest speakers. Students are expected to read the news from multiple sources every day of the week, and we encourage you to read news media from around the world.

Course Calendar

WEEK # Topics
1 Introduction and Political Systems of Thought
2 What is a just war? Were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just?
3 What is a just war? Were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just? (cont.)
4 Is pornography sexist? Should it be regulated?
5 How should we treat criminals? What constitutes “cruel and unusual” punishment?
6 Should we legalize marijuana? How should we treat other drugs?

What is the future of Social Security?

Guest Speaker: Toh Ne Win from Goldman Sachs

8 In what forms does discrimination exist in our society today? Should the government step in to stop discrimination?
9 Is outsourcing of jobs a problem? If so, what should we do?
10 The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Where can we go from here?
11 Should abortion be regulated?
12 Genocide in Rwanda and Sudan: How should we react?
13 Is it ever right to break the law?

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2004
Learning Resource Types
Activity Assignments