LERC brings together a faculty with a broad diversity of academic training, and therefore is able to offer courses across multiple departments for UO undergraduate and graduate students. LERC Director Bob Bussel regularly offers labor, political, and social history courses through the UO History department. Prof. Gordon Lafer teaches classes on employment policy and the politics of the workplace, through the Political Science department. Professor Marcus Widenor has taught courses on Industrial Relations through the Business School. And LERC runs a unique internship program that allows UO undergraduates of any major to undertake a four-credit internship with labor organizations throughout the state. Finally, LERC faculty also serve as advisors to undergraduate theses and PhD dissertations.
Among the credit courses offered by LERC faculty in recent years are the following:
HC 431H | Congress Up Close: How Does the U.S. Government Really Work? [ Gordon Lafer — Fall term, 2011-2012 ]
This course will draw on the instructor’s experience in 2009-10 serving as Senior Labor Policy Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor. In that capacity, I served as the primary Congressional staff person responsible for job creation policy, labor protections in international trade treaties, labor law reform, and a number of other key issues. As the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee Rep. George Miller also chairs the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and is thus in the very inner circle of Democratic leadership in the Congress, my work involved regular coordination with the offices of the Speaker of the House, Senate Majority leader, and White House officials.
The goal of this course is to give UO students a view of how the government works that is both analytically critical and grounded in real-life experience. I will draw on some of the classic Political Science texts that theorize how the Congress works, but the class will not be based on an assumption that participants have any particular Political Science training in their past.
Some of the fundamental questions I will address include: Is the government truly representative of the people? What determines how politicians vote? Is the idea of “post-partisanship” realistic? How is it possible to “hold elected officials accountable” once they’re in office? How can it happen in a democracy that laws are adopted that run counter to the interests and opinions of a majority of Americans?
The course will focus on issues of social and economic justice, and will use actual examples from the recent past — including the healthcare bill; job creation policies aimed at combating near-record unemployment; the Citizens’ United Supreme Court case on campaign finance, and Congressional responses; arguments about free trade; and the 2010 midterm elections — in order to shed critical light on standard political theories.
To some extent, the course will provide a realistic idea of how the government works for those students who may be thinking about going into some type of public service. More broadly, however, the course is designed to provide a clear-eyed understanding of how the government (primarily, though not only, the Congress) works, for everyday democratic citizens.
History 410/510 | US Immigration History
The flow of immigrants to Oregon and other states is but the latest chapter in a broader American story: our identity as a “nation of immigrants.” America’s ability to absorb successive waves of immigrants has distinguished it from other nations and is often cited as an example of cultural strength, social generosity, and political exceptionalism.
The history of immigration in America, however, has been much more complicated and controversial than this celebratory, mythic image suggests. These concerns have become accentuated in recent years, fueled by several decades of massive immigration, the thorny issue of unauthorized immigration, social fears in the wake of the 9/11, and heated debates over proposed reforms to the nation’s immigration laws.
This class will attempt to make sense of complex history. It will draw on diverse sources, making sure that the perspectives of immigrants, the native-born, and other social actors all receive consideration and attention. [ Bob Bussel ]
History 410/510 | Labor Pains : The American Working-Class Experience in the Twentieth Century
This course seeks to help students examine and understand the complex, multiple forces that have affected the fortunes of workers and unions during the twentieth century. [ Bob Bussel ]
History 410/510 | 'Proud Decades or the Age of Anxiety'?
American Culture and Politics, 1945-1960
The aim of this class is to grapple with contested views of American politics and culture from 1945-1960, better understand how this crucial period profoundly shaped late twentieth-century American history, and consider its relevance for contemporary times. [ Bob Bussel ]
History 407/507 | Class Dismissed: The American Labor and Working-Class Experience since 1945
This seminar has three principal aims: to illuminate key themes and developments in the history of workers and unions following World War II, to encourage critical reading and evaluation of different forms of historical evidence, and to provide students with the opportunity to engage in archival and primary source research.
[ Bob Bussel ]
Political Science 399| The Politics of Work
Upper-division course combining political theory, employment policy and studies of power relations at work, focusing on encouraging students to analyze the workplace as a site of political contestation.
[ Gordon Lafer ]
Political Science 399| Regulating the Working Class
Upper-level class focused on political, ethnographic and policy-oriented analyses of workplace relations and public policies affecting work.
[ Gordon Lafer ]
The Borderless Economy: Working Conditions, Capital Mobility and Labor Migration Between Mexico and the United States
This course examines the reality of economic relations, migration, labor conditions, and union organizing on both sides of the US-Mexican border.
[ Gordon Lafer ]
LERC 406| Union Internship Program
LERC places UO students in internships engaged in research and organizing projects with Oregon unions, workers’ organizations, public policy organizations, and legislators concerned with labor and employment issues. Students generally meet with a faculty advisor bi-weekly in addition to their internship work. There is no prerequisite for this internship. It is pass/fail, counts for four credits, and may count as Sociology credit for students in that major.
[ Supervised by Gordon Lafer ]