Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) 663

Critical Race Theory in Global Context (Revision 1)

**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.**


MAIS 663: Critical Race Theory in Global Context 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 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, race thinking—over time and space.

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to help students to

  1. develop a critical understanding of historical and contemporary approaches to conceptions of race.
  2. understand the meanings of contemporary discourses of race, racism, antiracism, and racialization in different contexts.
  3. recognize the political and social significance of debates surrounding the meaning(s) of racism.
  4. appreciate the ways in which both lived experiences and the very nature of oppression itself vary owing to the interactive effects of race with other axes of difference such as gender, class, and geography.
  5. understand the processes of race making in the nation state.
  6. recognize the fluidity and ambiguity of the meaning and significance of racial differences and patterns of racial identification across time and place.
  7. explore the workings of racism in the context of "race neutral" and "colour-blind" ideologies.
  8. develop an informed perspective on the "race question" and racial theory in the twenty-first century

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 per cent. 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 them.

Course Activity Weighting
Online Participation 25%
Short Essay 1 15%
Short Essay 2 20%
Case Study 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials

All of the materials for this course are online.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, 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 1, January 10, 2011.