Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:Aaron Berman
Office Extension x5377
Robert Rakoff
Office Extension x5396
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108

Who should care for the old, the sick, the unemployed, the poor? Is this a collective responsibility, to be fulfilled by government as it promotes the general welfare of the nation? Or is this an individual, personal responsibility: each adult responsible for his or her own welfare, with private charity picking up those who fall through the holes of a tattered safety net? This is the axis around which U.S. social welfare policy has turned since the early 20th century. For the last 30 years we have seen government policy move inexorably to the individual responsibility side of the debate. The state has been shifting responsibility for coping with the risks of aging, sickness, unemployment, and poverty to the individual, while relying increasingly on the private market to actually provide services. The results have not been pretty. Why this has occurred, who suffers and benefits, what are the institutional forces behind this trend, what are the prospects for change - these are the central questions to be explored in this course. We will look closely and critically at the history and politics of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, Workers' Compensation, and supplemental income programs. Students will work collaboratively to develop alternative approaches to these issues of social welfare policy.

Evaluation Criteria:

Requirements for evaluation: Satisfactory completion of a short take-home exam; a two-part research project; small- group responsibility for organizing a class session; and participation in discussions.