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American Dreams
FYS 025, CRN 7474and co-requisite POLS 001,CRN 4192

William Lewis
MW 12:30-1:45pm AND co-requisite course on TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 4192) Arthur Sanders
Honors students enrolled in this learning community will receive 3 elective credits towards the Honors Track of the Drake Curriculum.

This course begins with the question, “What constitutes the American Dream?”  It presents a number of selected theories and observations concerning the most popular and pervasive abstract values centered on the nature of the American social order that shape the character of its citizens.  These include the notions of liberty, equality, and freedom, as well as individualism, materialism, and issues of social justice.  For who does the American Dream most readily apply?  What populations has it historically excluded, and why?  How do questions concerning socio-economic class, race, and gender (among others) affect access to the American Dream?

A primary tension addressed throughout the course is that between the “individual” and the “community,” and how we understand the appropriate and ethical laws and rights a government should respect and enforce within this tension.  An important element of this tension is found in how we define, understand, and negotiate various realms of social life deemed “private” and “public.” We will ask some hard questions about how private and/or public "American Dreams” may come into conflict. We will also investigate the nature of American citizenship, and how our role as a “citizen” often finds itself in tension with our roles as consumers, whether in terms of products, goods, services, or perhaps most importantly, information.

Students who register for American Dreams must also register for POLS 001 (Arthur Sanders) The American Political System, taught by Professor Arthur Sanders. Professors Treat and Sanders will coordinate course readings and assignments to tie together themes developed in the two classes.  Students signing up will also be housed on the same floor in a residence hall.

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