Class Descriptions


PLSC 210: American Politics

Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of Black men who were born in the United States, but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises --- the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His greatgrandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many Black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole. – M. Alexander (The New Jim Crow)

The United States is a contradiction on a winding road of democracy. Its founding principles embrace the ideals of freedom and equality, but it is a nation built on the systematic exclusion and suppression of many groups of people. We will look and find value in the contributions of many different peoples to our government process and that shaping of our culture and traditions. We will closely examine the rights and obligations of all “citizens” (community members) as established by the US Constitution in conjunction with evolving concepts of democratic principles. Contemporary relationships between federal, state, and local governments are consistently explored as we continually focus on current events and our obligation to vote and support our democratic processes.


ENGL 105: Intensive Reading and Composition

The War on Drugs is a set of policies and priorities that has had and is having a dramatic effect on US society, an effect that has been exacerbated and clarified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing battle against racial injustice. According to a United Nations report, the War on Drugs has “…abjectly failed. Drug use and drug deaths have risen. Drug production has rocketed. Organized crime groups continue to use the drug trade as a vital supply line of cash.” In this class, you will read, discuss, and write about texts that address this issue, examining the ways writers express their views about everything from mass incarceration to the responsibilities of government and the health services industry. Text-based writing assignments will help you to develop your critical thinking skills, explore the connections between reading and writing, and engage in a dialogue with the texts and each other. You will learn to identify the underlying assumptions that structure and inform texts and your own opinions, generate topics for essays that represent your interests, and develop the facts that you collect and the opinions that you form about them into well-supported academic essays. You will also hone your editing and proofreading skills and review grammar, mechanics, and MLA documentation. 



PLSC 310: California State and Local Government

In February of 1848, Mexico and the United States signed a treaty, which ended the Mexican War and yielded a vast portion of the Southwest, including present-day California, to the United States. As a result, California has more immigrants than any other state. California is home to almost 11 million immigrants—about a quarter of the foreign-born population nationwide. As part of the rich and tumultuous immigrant history and presence, there were relatively few Afro-Latinos and other Africans in California before the mid-19th century. The Gold Rush brought the first real migration of African Americans to the state. Through the lenses of black migration into the state, the effects of segregation and racial discrimination, the struggle for social equality, the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders, the Black Panthers as well as urban violence and community renewal we can see one another in each other.


ENGL 110: Reading, Composition, Literature, and Critical Thinking

This section of ENGL 110 will have a thematic focus on the culture of slums. According to Planet of Slums author Mike Davis, at least one third of the world’s urban population resides in slums (Davis 23). We will examine the economies, customs, languages, values, and aesthetic and emotional concerns expressed in texts composed by or about people living in slums or slum-like conditions. Texts will include a poem by nineteenth-century poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; a play by Bay Area native Tim Barsky; Black South African writer Mark Mathabane’s autobiography; a novel by Leslie Marmon Silko of the Laguna Pueblo nation; and short stories by Haitian author Edwidge Danticat. What do these texts add to our understanding of the human experience that differs from/is similar to more traditionally canonized texts? You will also be introduced to a variety of literary theories through lectures, videos, and readings.


MATH 200: Elementary Probability and Statistics for Umoja (and COLTS in Fall)

This Introductory Statistics course fulfills the transfer-level math requirement for most majors in Humanities and Social Sciences, and for the Associates degree. The course is taught using a project-based approach where each student will pursue research on a topic of their choice and learn how statistical methods help researchers answer questions about the world using data. The class will also introduce students to basic coding for statistical analysis using SAS software. The class aims to be a supportive environment where we all work towards learning how to understand and improve our world.