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What is Good Work?

This course will explore a variety of themes concerning the social value and purposes of work. Students will define criteria for what constitutes good work. This course will examine the nature of labor and the creation of property and wealth in historical perspective through readings by John Locke, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Karl Marx, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Andrew Carnegie, Eugene V. Debs, Henry Ford, Betty Friedan, Ben Hamper, Barbara Ehrenreich, Matthew Crawford, and others. Students will consider the benefits of and opportunities created by both vocational and liberal arts educations. We will also discuss professional relationships, employer/employee obligations, and the role of ethics in the workplace. Readings, discussions, and presentations will explore and analyze the history of slavery and servitude, wage labor, mechanization, factory jobs, the history of organized labor, definitions of skilled and unskilled work, gender and racial discrimination, deindustrialization, NAFTA, and outsourcing. Students will also contemplate what makes a work of art a masterpiece and how moral causes demand courageous action, such as African-American troops fighting to end slavery during the Civil War. Students will also discuss individual work experiences, personal ambitions, and the future education and training required to achieve their career goals.