Fall 2020 Semester

As the pandemic is keeping us from holding in-person classes at the DC Jail, the Scholars Program is continuing on with distance learning via secured tablets. Here are our course offerings this semester:

In this issues course we will discuss the topic of reparations, in dialogue with the specific case for trans-Atlantic slavery and the associated colonialism on the African continent. Reparations, and moral repair generally construed, are a kind of act that aims to respond to historical harms or injustices. They are a particularly interesting subject from the standpoint of ethical and political philosophy, in that they complicate, challenge, and (hopefully, ultimately) clarify central concepts in these aspects of philosophy, including responsibility, harm, restitution, and welfare. Finally, they provide the occasion for engaging productively with other relevant disciplines, notably history, social science, and even natural sciences like geology and environmental sciences.

Our aim at the level of contemporary moral issues will be to clarify for ourselves the debate around reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery. Our philosophical aim will be to clarify what political and moral relationships are at stake in issues like these, how they can be damaged and what it takes to repair them. These aims, with any luck, will support each other.

For decades, Washington D.C. has been as known as ‘Chocolate City’. In 1957 D.C. became the first majority-Black major city in the United States. However, in recent years, gentrification has changed the residential landscape of D.C.—pushing out many longtime Black residents. As the cost of living rises, the future of Chocolate City remains tenuous. This course hopes to honor D.C. Black identity by analyzing Black literature—novels, short stories and poetry—set in the nation’s capital. We will read contemporary poets and authors such as Marita Golden and Edward P. Jones. Through their writing, the hope is to experience The District in a new light.