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Global Challenges: Diversity




Admissions requirements

None, this is a compulsory Year 1 course.


This course examines the social and political dimensions of human difference. Given the multiplicity of multiplicity – the infinite variety of social organization and expression – how should we analyze the broad theme of diversity? We might say that it encompasses how we know and understand the world, and the ways we interact and make claims in that world. It includes how societies segment and stratify themselves; the moral, political, and scientific underpinnings of such discrepancies; and the practices and performances by which variation is reproduced.

How do human societies perpetuate divergence and distinction? How are disparities constructed, negotiated, and contested? When, historically and politically, do dissimilarities become visible and similarities become invisible? How do ideas of normalcy and alterity, and of conformity and aberration, gain currency in everyday life? To address such questions, this course introduces students to defining debates on social difference across time and space.

We organize this inquiry through an interpretive and comparative approach to cross-cutting themes. These topics are marshalled via the theoretical concepts, investigative methods, and communicative forms of fields such as anthropology, sociology, history, literature, and journalism. By introducing students to foundational texts and representative concepts, this course familiarizes students with the specific theme of variation, and the general vocabulary and techniques of the humanities and social sciences.

Course objectives

Students will gain proficiency in general humanistic and social science analysis. They will learn the vocabulary, techniques, and styles of fields including anthropology, sociology, history, literature, and journalism.

An emphasis on debate and discussion will improve confidence in verbal argumentation, and the capacity to assess what is convincing and coherent in intellectual dialogue.

Throughout the course, students will write reflections, as part of a course portfolio, to hone their comprehension and interpretation. A final paper will improve interdisciplinary synthesis and non-instrumental analysis.

This course gives students a comparative and interdisciplinary introduction to the experiential, epistemological, institutional, and ethical patterning of diversity. Students will be introduced to the convergence of immaterial conceptions, spatial scales, representational forms, and administrative logics, and how they bear on the issue of social difference.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Two weekly meetings between Weeks 1 and 7 comprise the course contact between instructors and students. In the first meeting per week, a plenary lecture will contextualize and elaborate the assigned material. The second meeting each week will be comprised of intensive and smaller-scale analysis of course texts and specific topics. This discussion will be bolstered by student reflections posted before the seminars, and used by instructors to orient discussion.


  • In-class participation – 10% – Ongoing

  • Midterm Exam – 25% – Week 4

  • Course Portfolio (regular postings and a summary reflection) – 35% -- Week 7

  • Final Paper (2500 words) – 30% Week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

There is one mandatory course text for students to purchase. It is a novel by the German novelist Jenny Erpenbeck, titled, in its English version, Go, Went, Gone (New York: New Directions, 2017. Susan Bernofsky, translator. ISBN: 978-0-8112-2594-6). Instructors and students will collectively read this novel as the course progresses. We will weave our reading of Erpenbeck’s novel into discussions of other course texts.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ajay Gandhi