Fall 2017

The American Dream: Status Quo and Alternatives Fall 2016 ARC 327F (00837)/ARC 386M-24 (01250)/URB 352 2 (37720) Sutton Hall 2.114 Mondays 7:00-10:00 pm Instructor: Stephen L. Ross, Senior Lecturer Office: GOL 4.142A Email: slross@mail.utexas.edu No prerequisites. Final Exam: None Course Description: Designing New American Dreams/Risking New Outcomes: Sustainability and the American Dream. This course investigates the origins, concepts, causes, and consequences of the American Dream as an effective cultural system while striving to design and offer credible alternatives students deem as more comprehensively beneficial than the status quo embodiment of the dominant American Dream as it is currently manifest in action. We conduct research into the history and evolution of the American Dream and its resultant dominant status quo interpretation. Then, we identify possible negative externalities resulting from this current status quo embodiment and proceed to articulate and publicly advocate, through our emerging praxis, potential alternative manifestations students consider being more comprehensively sustainable and just. Emphasis will be concentrated on the following intersecting categories: Self-determination (Self-awareness and individual critical consciousness), economics, environment, society and culture. Via presentation of research evidence, articulation, participatory action, activist research and advocacy, students will strive to establish credibility for alternatives, crafted based on conventional understandings of the American Dream, suggesting reasons why change is warranted, and designed in a manner a larger public audience will accept. With the goal not being to discredit the existence of the cultural phenomenon of the American Dream, but instead to recuperate, reinvigorate, and reinterpret the concept by offering credible alternatives to its current interpretation and embodiment that will become accepted and thus creating new mainstream interpretations which are considered more comprehensively just and sustainable. In short, the course is based upon the belief that change is inevitable, yet the nature of change isn’t: The interplay between status quos and alternative change is a constant and ever-present active process. The future doesn’t just merely happen, instead we collectively create the future by our individual actions as we each live our lives.