Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) 663

Critical Race Theory in Global Context (Revision 2)

MAIS 663
**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


Welcome to MAIS 663: Critical Race Theory in Global Context. This course explores conceptions of race from various perspectives in social and political theory, recognizing that such knowledge and understanding are important for making sense of the ambiguities and complexities of race and sociopolitical life in modern liberal states. Over the past two decades, critical race theory (CRT) has emerged as an important body of scholarship, first in law, and later across the social sciences and humanities. Rather than being one perspective or approach, CRT is best understood as a collection of theoretical positions that self-consciously views the construct of race through a critical lens, posing new questions on the persistence, if not the intensification, of race and the “colour line” in the twenty-first century. For example, are “race-neutral” laws and “colour-blind” justice possible, or even desirable? Are “non-racial” or “post-racial” politics and institutions of governance possible? Do the expansion of multiracial populations and the election of leaders who are members of racialized minority groups signal the declining significance of race and racism?

This course examines the strengths and weaknesses of various perspectives on how race has been defined and (re)produced—through race-making and race-thinking—over time and space.

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to help students to

  1. cultivate an in-depth, contextual, nuanced, and interdisciplinary literacy in critical race theory and its associated vocabularies.
  2. apply race critical theories to the contemporary problematics pertaining to race, racism, settler colonialism, intersectionality, inequity, oppression, and resistance.
  3. compare different theories of race, racism, and racialization through a consideration of the grounded implications of these theories.
  4. isolate the specific challenges that critical race theory poses to foundational concepts such as the state, citizenship, security, inclusion, dialogue, the social contract, liberal progress, and time.
  5. consider how racialized power, privilege, dominance, and stereotypes inform your own positionality, your everyday experiences, and your orientation to material in this course and your broader research interests.
  6. engage in difficult conversations pertaining to race, racism, and racialization with humility, curiosity, and a recognition of your own positionality and grounded knowledge.
  7. evaluate how your own conception of expertise intersects with power, dominance, and positionality.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 percent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with each.

Course Activity Weighting
Online Participation 20%
Racial Autobiography 5%
Short Essay 1 15%
Short Essay 2 20%
Major Essay 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials

All of the materials for this course are online.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: The course Moodle page connects you to all of the digital materials for this course, including all the units of the Study Guide, which include links to all the required digital reading and viewing materials. It also contains the discussion forums where you will come together with your course professor and fellow students to share ideas and build knowledge through discussion, and it is where you will submit your assignments.

Athabasca University Library: Explore AU Library's website to review our collection of journal databases, e-books, and digital reference tools.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, XXX XXX, 2019/20.

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