School of Art, Media, and Technology

Eye on Spring 2018 Collabs: REDESIGNING THE AMERICAN DREAM

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COLLAB: REDESIGNING THE AMERICAN DREAM

SPRING 2018

TAUGHT BY: MCKINNON, ROBERT

SECTION: B

CRN: 7829

Credits: 3

Course Description:
COLLAB: REDESIGNING THE AMERICAN DREAM: The Brookings Institution’s Isabel Sawhil one of the world’s leading experts on social mobility, once said, “On one hand, people need the American Dream because it offers people hope. On the other hand, we’re really telling a very limited story about what it takes to get ahead.” The repercussions of this dichotomy can be felt throughout society. While hard work certainly makes success possible, it doesn’t make it probable. Yet the prevailing narrative and beliefs suggest that anyone who works hard can “make it”, regardless of background or life experience. As a result, we don’t fix the failing schools because someone can point to a few kids who made it out. We don’t support policies and programs that have proven to provide opportunities for a better life. We don’t address the underlying issues of inequality because too many believe this is fundamentally a meritocracy. If we want to engage people on issues like poverty, inequality and opportunity, then we must design new ways to bring them into the conversation and tell a different story about the American Dream. In this co-lab, we will start by examining the sociological and psychological underpinnings of the American Dream. This will involve reviewing both large scale studies on economic mobility and smaller projects exploring sociological concepts such as fundamental attribution bias. We will also discuss predominate American Dream narratives in culture ranging from literary works such as Horatio Alger to Emerson’s Self-Reliance, to films like as Rocky and Steve Jobs and music from Dr. Dre and the musical Hamilton. Leveraging learning and building off the success of Your American Dream Score, a joint initiative of the Ford Foundation and PBS’s flagship station, WNET, students will then design tools, products and media that can challenge and reshape the limiting narrative of the American Dream. Specifically students will be asked to either work independently or in groups to produce a media project – in the form of writing, creating audio/video assets, crafting a social media campaign, or developing an app, work of art or live event. The media is secondary to the application of key tenets proven to be able to reshape this critical narrative.

Open to: All university undergraduate students.

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