The Gateway Courses offer interdisciplinary introductions to the more complex and deeper study of economic inequality.

SOCI 0240 Inequality and the American Dream

Instructor: Matt Lawrence

In this course we will explore sociological attempts to explain who “gets ahead” in the contemporary United States. We will discuss two distinct issues that are often conflated in public discussions: economic inequality and social mobility. We will consider the conceptual and empirical associations between these measures, how each has changed over time, how the United States compares to other countries, and how different social environments (such as colleges, neighborhoods, and families) influence life chances within and across generations. We will also examine the challenges of producing research about these topics, focusing on both theoretical and methodological issues.

RELI/INTD 0298 Privilege & Poverty: The Ethics of Economic Inequality

Instructor: Steve Viner

In this course we will study the ethical implications of domestic and global economic inequality. Drawing from history, economics, sociology, philosophy, theology, and other disciplines, we will examine the causes and consequences of inequality, critically evaluate our usage of the terms “privilege” and “poverty,” and consider the range of moral responses individuals and society might have to inequality. We will ask whether it is unfair, unfortunate, or necessary that some citizens live with significantly less material wealth than others, and whether those who experience “privilege” have any moral responsibility to those who exist in “poverty.”

Center for Community Engagement
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753