Fall 2019 Semester

In the Fall 2019 semester, we offered three credit-bearing courses and six non-credit courses to more than 50 of our Georgetown Scholars at the DC Jail.

Credit-bearing courses

This course will address the following questions: Why does the U.S. maintain an incarceration rate that is seven times higher than other democracies, even though Americans are no more likely to be the victims of crimes than are people in other societies? Why is the U.S. one of the few democratic countries to sanction the death penalty? Why is the criminal justice system in this country the most punitive in the democratic world? In exploring these larger themes, we will start by focusing on the crucial underlying issue of race—both historically and in the contemporary period—before turning to the different elements of the criminal justice system, including the roles of prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges, as well as the routine practice of plea bargaining. We will then consider the issue of wrongful convictions, before turning to prison conditions, the incarceration of women, societal reentry, a comparative perspective on American punitiveness, and capital punishment.

This course is designed to cover personal and corporate finance. Our primary subject areas are account basics, cash flows, stocks, bonds, and funds, capital market history, and risk and return. Each student will receive a customized text that contains material from four different books covering accounting basics, corporate finance, personal finance & entrepreneurship.

The aims of the course are to introduce you to some basic problems in the philosophy of law and to develop your analytic skills in thinking, writing, and speaking. “Philosophy of law” brings together two giant subjects, philosophy and law. There are many things we could study in a course with this title; I’ve chosen a few of what I think are the most interesting ones.

Non-credit-bearing courses

Introduction to journalism, newspapers and politics. A veteran journalist will lead a seminar that explores principles and practices of journalism. Focus will be on newspapers, with discussions of how to read and analyze articles of various kinds.

Both music and environmental sounds influence our experiences of where we are and who we are. Sounds helps us mark time as we wait, they define the character of neighborhoods, and can intervene in the chaos of the urban life. In this class, we will study sound by discussing ideas from readings, by listening critically, and by producing audio. In so doing, we will learn to think about “soundscapes, ” environments of sound that humans use to gain a sense of place and time. We will use this knowledge to investigate soundscapes of the jail and then figure out ways that the sound of jail could be improved. A major component of the class will be designing a digital audio experience of and for the jail. This is a collaborative workshop. Throughout the semester, we will be a creative team of consultants and producers making, distributing, and installing sounds in our environment.

This course is for students who want to develop their mathematical skills and learn how mathematics and statistics can be applied to a variety of real-world scenarios such as personal finance, proper medication dosages, sustainable management of ecological resources, and issues related to genetic engineering. The goal of this course is threefold: (1) to provide you with basic mathematical skills needed to succeed in college-level mathematics courses; (2) to familiarize you with the art of using mathematics to model real-world scenarios in a variety of fields; and (3) to introduce you to the basics of statistics.  After successfully completing this course, you should be prepared to take a college-level course in probability and statistics or a college algebra course.

In this course we’ll explore ancient Jewish mystical teachings that just may surprise us with their radical, empowering messages.  Jewish mystics offered teachings on everything from the nature of God to the nature of our souls that at once build on and depart from non-mystical Jewish teachings.   Forged in difficult times for the Jewish community, these texts emphasize finding holiness even in hard things, honoring the fullness of our humanity, and coping with vulnerability.  We’ll look at texts that are especially focused on cultivating an inner life and spiritual strengths to face the challenges of our times. 

One of many efforts to desegregate schools in the United States was a process that would become known simply as “busing.” By transporting students to schools outside of their neighborhoods, policymakers hoped that they could solve the problem of segregation in American education. Some of these efforts were involuntary—court-ordered mandates to force the schools of certain towns and cities to desegregate. Others, some of which still exist, included voluntary programs to give students the opportunity to attend schools in other neighborhoods, and sometimes, other towns. 

This reading-based course will use Matthew’s Delmont’s book Why Busing Failed (2016) as a guide to comparing and contrasting busing movements—from their implementation to the reactions they garnered—across the United States. Over the semester we will attempt to answer the question: “If busing failed, why so?” Sixty-five years after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered schools to desegregate in its landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, our nation’s schools remain segregated. If busing cannot alone achieve greater educational equity in the U.S., what can?

In this workshop, we will read and discuss short stories and plays written by a diverse group of award- winning writers. We’ll analyze the basic structure of works of fiction, focusing on plot, character development, setting, and style. Class members will complete short assignments related to the writing techniques we discuss.

The Lecture Series

Clemetine Jacoby and Joshua Essex

Lawrence Bartley

Michael Eric Dyson

Kimberly Nelson