Duke University To Roll Out ‘Inequality Studies’ Minor


Duke University is hoping to offer students the ability to minor in “Inequality Studies” starting in the spring, after Faculty members approved a proposal for the minor.

Campus paper The Chronicle reported that the Arts and Science Council voted to approve the new minor late last month. The new minor would fall under the history department as part of a collaboration with Duke’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, which said in an October 8 press release that it was “excited to announce the approval.”

History professor Malachi Hacohen, who co-sponsored the proposal for the minor at Duke, told the Chronicle that it would include three courses from the Cook Center and three from the history department.

“The Cook Center represents an exceptional combination of resources in inequality studies… There are a few other places where you have those sources, and the history department is only too happy to have this group of experts come and work with us,” Hacohen told the outlet.

The College Fix reported that it was not clear from this statement whether “the university approved the minor or if it was just reiterating the September 24 faculty approval.” Those contacted by the Fix either didn’t respond or refused to comment for the story.

“Professor William Darity, the director of the Cook Center, declined to comment, telling The Fix via email that ‘I don’t view your outlet as a platform that makes inquiries in good faith’ and said he was ‘not willing to be interviewed,’” the outlet reported.

“The minor would cover several different courses from the Cook Center, which focuses on taking a ‘cross-national comparative approach to the study of human difference and disparity,’ in conjunction with Duke courses in a variety of fields, according to the center’s description,” the outlet added. “However, some professors raised objections about how the minor would balance the minor’s ‘coherency’ with diversity and the ‘breadth of study,’ according to the Chronicle. Others raised questions about the proliferation of minors and overlap with other minors.” On professor suggested changing the name of the minor to include the word “history” to ensure it did not overlap with similar studies.

As the Fix reported, other universities have also started offering an Inequality Studies minor, including Cornell University and the University of Chicago. Cornell describes its minor as “appropriate for students interested in public and private sector employment, policy, and civil society,” and for “those who wish to pursue graduate and professional degrees in a variety of fields.”

Chicago’s minor offers a bit more than Inequality Studies, adding “Social Problems and Change” to the minor, which gives “students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the nature of inequality as it takes shape in pivotal societal institutions.” Further, the university says, the minor gives students the ability “to formulate feasible pathways for reducing inequality and improving quality of life.”

As the Fix reported, courses for the minor “include classes on community organizing, policing and immigration.”

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