WLT 134



POLI 318


Prof. Sammy Basu

Smu 317 TTh1030-1130





An ethics and public policy case-based seminar that proceeds from the premise that the patterned mal-distribution of mortality rates is a conspicuous consequence and hence robust measure of social in-justice. Four distinct cases are addressed from philosophical, ethical and policy perspectives: health-care, criminal justice, military service, and oil and petroleum.

Pedagogy includes discussion, exams, digital field-work, and an independent project: service-learning, or shadow and reflection, or research paper, relating to mortality.

Course fulfills AR general education requirement.





Think critically:

"Man is only a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed."

m Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (1670, vi.347).

Read closely:

"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider."

m Francis Bacon (1561-1626), 'Of Studies,' Essays, (1597).

Write effectively:

"Then, rising with Aurora's light,

The Muse invoked, sit down to write;

Blot out, correct, insert, refine,

Enlarge, diminish, interline."

m Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), On Poetry (1733, I.85).

Speak deliberatively:

"'The time has come,' the Walrus said, 'To talk of many things:

Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and Kings --

And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings.'"

m Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Through the Looking Glass (1872)

Research in ways consistent with political science methods:

"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,

The proper study of mankind is man,

Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,

A being darkly wise, and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,

With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,

He hangs between: in doubt to act or rest,

In doubt his mind or body to prefer;

Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;

Alike in ignorance, his reason such,

Whether he thinks too little or too much."

m Alexander Pope (1688-1744), An Essay on Man (1733, Epistle, ii.1.1).




This course is organized around the readings, class discussion, and student experience/research. 

The grade has five components listed below, all of which must be passed to pass the course. 

Late penalties will be assigned.

If you believe that you may have a disability requiring accommodation, please contact
Disability Services, Baxter Hall, Phone: (503) 370-6471, (TT) (503) 375-5383.


(1) Regular participation in class discussions and assignments (20%)
- engage with the films, readings, internet, and view-points of others. 

Attendance does not constitute participation.


(2) Mid-Term Examination (20%)
- on introductory materials, health care and imprisonment.
Format will include short-answer questions, identify and explain questions and so on with emphasis on crucial facts, concepts, and arguments.


(3) Service-Learning Reflective essay (30%)
- a brief (8-10 pp. i.e., 2400-3000 word) reflective essay drawing upon 20-25 hours of on-site service involvement, personal journal of experiences, and relevant secondary scholarship.

    Shadow and Analysis paper (30%)
- a sustained (10-15pp. i.e., 3000-4500word) analysis paper upon a particular role or institution based upon participant observation with or shadowing of person(s) occupying the role or institution, and relevant secondary scholarship.



    Argumentative Research paper (30%)

- an extended (20-25pp. i.e., 6000-7500 word) piece of original research bringing philosophical and conceptual issues to bear upon a specific empirical controversy involving mortality in contemporary America.

(4) Oral presentation (10%)

- brief (15-20 min.) in-class presentation of reflections upon the service-learning experience, analysis of shadow observation, or the arguments of the research.  10 min Q & A.

Presentation must make use of ‘information technology.’ 
Email presentation at least two days before scheduled date.

Turn in draft of accompanying paper at time of presentation. 
Paper and presentation materials are not one and the same although they will certainly share elements.


(5) Final examination (20%)
- on introductory materials, war, oil, some 4-case comparisons, and student presentations of their own projects.

Format will include short-answer questions, identify and explain questions and so on with emphasis on crucial facts, concepts, and arguments.





It is important that you complete the assigned reading and take the time to reflect on it before coming to class.  The required texts listed below are available for purchase at the WU Bookstore.  Additional required readings on the WWWeb or on WISE or on reserve at Hatfield Library will be available through the online syllabus.





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Uninsured in America:

life and death in the land of opportunity (2005)

Susan Sered

and Rushika Fernandopulle




The New Jim Crow:

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010)

Michelle Alexander




The Casualty Gap:

The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities (2010)

Douglas L. Kriner and Francis X. Shen



Lives Per Gallon:

The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction (2006)

Terry Tamminen









W Aug 29


Į Introduction: Death in America

Why ‘death’?


Extra Read: Ratner Edward R and Song, John Y. 2002. “Education for the End of Life.” The Chronicle of Higher Education.



F Aug 31


Į What does death mean to you?


Assignment  (2 paragraphs)

Q1: "What does death mean to you?"

Q2: “What would you do if you knew you only had ten years to live?”



Cartoons on death
Pictures of death
Alphabet of Death

Dear Death


M Sep 3


Į The Historical Meanings of Mortality


Read: AriŹs, Philippe. 1980. "Five Variations on Four Themes," in The Hour of Our Death. (Trans.) H. Weaver. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 602-14.

Assignment: complete the Aries worksheet



1. Ancient Athens Kerameikos

2. Medieval Welsh St. Mary’s Priory Church

3. Early-modern French Cathedrale de Rouen

4. 19th c. Paris, Pere-Lachaise

5. Today, intensive care


W Sep 5

Į Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values:



Read: Sen, Amartya. 1998. "Mortality as an Indicator of Economic Success and Failure.” Economic Journal, 108:1-25

NYT slide show on Kerala



Į Digital Fieldwork

See: http://www.willamette.edu/~sbasu/poli303/useofweb.htm



Į Service Learning Experience and Paper,

or Shadow & Reflection Paper,

or Research Paper


service-learning agreement

how to establish a service-learning relationship




F Sep 7


Į Data on Death in America


Read: American Sociological Association.  2003. The Importance of Collecting Data and Doing Social Scientific Research on Race. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.



Read: Curry-Stevens, A., Cross-Hemmer, A., Maher, N. & Meier, J. (2011). ‘The Politics of Data: Uncovering Whiteness in Conventional Social Policy and Social Work Research.’ Sociology Mind, 1, 183-191.




Q1: What patterns do you find in the data?

Q2: What causes might explain these patterns?




mortality database

Mortality and Causes of death





Center for Disease Control


Mortality Tables


 Deaths: preliminary Data for 2012’ (2012)


Death in the United States 2010’ (2012)


 Health, United States, 2010 with Special Feature on Death and Dying’ (2011)


 Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations’


Black or African-American Populations’


QuickStats: Term Infant Mortality Rates, by Race/Ethnicity --- US 2007’ (2011)


Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the US’ (2008)


Atlas of US Mortality 1988-1992

Results: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/misc/atlasres.pdf

Maps for All Causes: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/gis/atmapall.pdf



NCHSData on Racial and Ethnic Disparities



US Census Bureau


 Births, Deaths, Marriages, & Divorces’ (2012)

 Deaths and death Rates by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1970-2008

 Death rates by Age, Sex, and Race: 1950 to 2008

 Leading Causes of Death by Race: 2007’ and ‘… by Hispanic Origin 2007’



Kaiser Family Foundation


Number of Deaths per 100,000 Population by Race/Ethnicity, 2009’

Infant Mortality Rate (Deaths per 1,000 Live Births) by Race/Ethnicity, Linked Files, 2005-2007’

Number of Diabetes Deaths per 100,000 Population by Race/Ethnicity, 2008’



M Sep 10

Į Reading the Data on Death in America


Read: Kunitz, Stephen J. 2005. “Mortality of White Americans, African Americans, and Canadians: The Causes and Consequences for Health of Welfare State Institutions and Policies.” The Milbank Quarterly, 83.1: 5-40.





Read: Manuel, Douglas G and Mao, Yang. 2002.  Avoidable Mortality in the United States and Canada, 1980–1996.” American Journal of Public Health, 92.9 1481-1484.





Read: Wolfson, Michael C. et al. 2000. “Relation between income inequality and mortality: empirical demonstration.” Western Journal of Medicine. 172(1): 22–24.




Read: Swallen, Karen C. 2004. Mortality in the US” Comparing Race/Ethnicity and Nativity.’ Center for Demography and Ecology Working paper No. 99-04.





Read: Saenz, Rogelio. 2007, ‘The Growing Color Divide in US Infant Mortality.’ Population Reference Bureau





Read: Heisler, Elayne J. 2012. ‘The U.S. Infant Mortality Rate: International Comparisons, Underlying Factors, and Federal Programs.’ Congressional Research Service.





W Sep 12

Į Reading Narrative, Using Data, and Quantitative Rhetoric


Read: Gaissmaier, Wolfgang and Gerd Gigerenzer.  2008. ‘Statistical illiteracy undermines informed shared decision-making.’ Z. Evid. Fortbild. Qual. Gesundh. wesen 102: 411-13.




Read: Statistical Literacy: A Short Introduction





Skim: Gigerenzer, G., W. Gaissmaier, E. Kurz-Milcke, L.M. Schwartz, & S. Woloshin. 2008 ‘Helping Doctors and Patients Make Sense of Health Statistics.Psychological Science In The Public Interest 8.2: 53-96.




F Sep 14

Į No Class individual Meetings




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Uninsured in America:

life and death in the land of opportunity (2005)

Susan Sered

and Rushika Fernandopulle





M Sep 17 Description: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_C5VMt0Sqis0/S7HS5R4YrAI/AAAAAAAADj0/cFfGiJbGEYs/s1600/death_spiral.jpg

Read: UinA, pp.xv-56



Ch.1. From Working Class to Working Poor

Ch.2. Medicaid, Welfare reform, and Low-Wage Work in the New Economy



OECD: Key Findings, US



OECD: Why is health Spending in the US so high?



US Dept of Health and Human Services (2011): Overview of the Uninsured in the US



US Dept of Health and Human Services (2009): New Data Say Uninsured Account for Nearly One-Fifth of Emergency Room Visits




Galen D



Coalition of Community Health Clinics: One in Six Portland Residents Lacks Health Insurance



Amy M


David Rohde: What do we mean by ‘Middle Class’?




W Sep 19

Read: UinA, pp.57-106

Ch.3. Family Matters: Divorce and Domestic Violence

Ch.4. Who Cares for the Caregivers? Love as a Portal into the Death Spiral

Ch.5. The Fox Guarding the Henhouse: Work-Related Injuries and the vagaries of Worker’s Compensation



NYT: Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S.


Maribel V



National Women’s Law Center: Domestic Violence in Insurance


Maribel V



Blog: Chain of Violence




F Sep 21

Read: UinA, pp. 107-162

Ch.6. Risky Business: The Self-Employed, Small Business Owners, and Other American Entrepreneurs

Ch.7. Young, Sick, and Part-Time: The Vulnerability of Youth and the New American Job Market

Ch.8. Mental Health Matters: A Mexican Immigrant Hits the Bureaucratic Wall

Ch.9. Race Matters: Health Care Stories from Black America




US Dept of Health and Human Services: Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (2000)


The National Academies congressional mandate (2000)


Institute of Medicine Report (2002)


The Commonwealth Fund Report and Summary (2002), Report (2004), Report on Physicians’ preparedness (2005), Report on health and segregation (2005), Report on quality care (2006).



Kaiser Family Foundation: July Update on Health Disparities (2012)


Kaiser Family Foundation: Black Americans and HIV/AIDS (2012)



Jon H




This is a report by the Executive Office of the President Council of Economic Advisers regarding the Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees. It provides a great deal of facts regarding the disproportionate share of employment growth that small businesses offer and the lack of health insurance that those businesses offer. It is relatively current as it was written in 2009. The accuracy and authority of the government speaks for itself.




This article discusses the complexities of U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold most of the provisions from the Affordable Care Act. One of the laws provisions is for small business health care tax credit, which allows businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees that pay at least 50% of the total premiums to qualify for a tax credit of up to 35% of their premium contributions. That number is increasing to 50% in 2014. The accuracy and authority are of a reputed online news source.


Jon H




I thought that it would be pertinent to update the reading on youth portion of the reading. Since the Affordable Care Act did provided extended coverage to a large number of young adults. The question is while this helped, did it really solve the problem?





This website, provided by the insurance company United Health Group, takes a looks at their reasoning behind the rising costs of health care. It was put out in 2010 and is obviously biased, but it provides a side that the book doesn't really touch on.




M Sep 24

Read: UinA, pp.163-204

Ch.10: Descent through the Death Spiral

Ch.11: Moving Forward

Appendix 1: A Primer on the US Health Care System and the Safety Net




Leif H





The first website is the source, the second is an article making a case for the universal healthcare system.




Anthony M



I thought this first one was interesting primarily because it discussed the need for pharmaceutical innovation, which seems to clash with the vision of a public system laid out by Sered and Fernandopulle, but also because it discusses the issue of obesity. The author claims that health laws unfairly target obese people, which is an interesting counterpoint to the Uninsured in America notion that obesity is a unhealthy caste marker.



The other one is the results of a study on the effects of repealing the affordable care act, and the impacts that doing so would have on medicare. In my view, this is still a contrary position to that of the book because they argue that expansions to existing programs

(like the ACA medicare changes) won't solve the problem, but the results here show that it has already begun to make a difference.




W Sep 26

Evaluating the Argument


Causal Arguments







Kaiser Family Foundation



JAMA: Future of Medicaid




Romney as Presidential Candidate on HC




Obama as incumbent Presidential Candidate on HC


Individual v Socio-political












F Sep 28

Į No Class individual Meetings – drop 10-12







The New Jim Crow:

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010)

Michelle Alexander





M Oct 1

Read: NJC, pp.1-58


Ch 1. The Rebirth of Caste


Billie Holiday, ‘Strange Fruit’ (2.33min); and PBS on song

Prison Policy Initiative: incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment

National Institute of Justice: US Incarceration Rates by Race and Sex (2008)

NAACCP: Criminal Justice Fact Sheet and Issues

The Sentencing project: news

FBI: Uniform Crime Report (2011)



Students on the argument



Bill Moyers: MLK video (2012, from 10:30on)

NYTimes: on Amadou Diallo 13 years later

NYTimes: on Central Park Jogger Rape case 13 years later



Peter A




Joslin S




City Journal calls itself "the nation’s premier urban-policy magazine" and is available in print and partially online. It is a very conservative journal, as represented by this article. The article essentially argues that the criminal justice system is not racist, but that it merely reflects the fact that African American men simply commit crimes at a higher rate than do white men. While the article does use statistics and seems to sound legitimate, many of its arguments are based off of racist assumptions and merely refutes claims that are made by people like Michelle Alexander instead of really trying to explain why the incarceration rates are so different.



W Oct 3

Read: NJC, pp.59-96

Ch 2. The Lockdown


The War on Drugs: The Prison Industrial Complex (vid)



Brett S



The video link is a Meet the Press interview with Dr. Alvin Poissant

on the inherent racism that comes with mandatory minimums. 


This is a one year old report from the The United States Sentencing Commission

that addresses all Mandatory Minimum policies. 



Tenny P







F Oct 5

Read: NJC, pp.97-177

Ch. 3. The Color of Justice

Ch. 4. The Cruel Hand


Eberhardt, Jennifer L et al. 2006. ‘Looking Deathworthy.’ Psychological Science 17.5: 383-6.



Scotty F










The first three links are examinations of the judicial court failure to protect the minorities, which is one of the main court premise. They are supposed to protect suspect classifications and race would definately fall into the category of suspect classification. Suspect classification is the grouping of what is deemed an arbitrary distinction between individuals, who are unduly affected by legislation. These groups are then supposed to be protected due to the 14th amendment which provides equal protection to all citizens. The first link focuses on traffic stops, while the second two focus on McCleskey v. Kemp. The youtube clip talks about current efforts to bar african americans and other minorities from voting if they are unable to vote.



Leif H




a statement produced by the DOJ which emphasized its position against racial profiling/discrimination and lists the steps it was taking to combat it.




data produced by the DOJ for 2002, 2005 demonstrating that whites, blacks, and latinos were stopped and searched at similar rates.




abstract of criminologist william wilbanks' essay "the myth of a criminal justice system". He asserts that the whole criminal justice system cannot be designated as discriminatory just based on a few instances of racial prejudice, rather the whole system would have to be infected with those instances, which he believes it isn't.



M Oct 8

Read: NJC, pp.178-262

Ch. 5. The New Jim Crow

Ch. 6. The Fire This Time



Common, Testify

 Common, Ghetto Fream feat. Nas



Rose R




This article supports and expands upon Alexander's discussion of "black support for 'get tough' policies", particularly in relation to her arguments about "black respectability", or the "political strategy predicated on the notion that that the goal of racial equality can only be obtained if black people are able to successfully prove to white that they are worthy of equal treatment, dignity and respect" (212). In her article, Mgadmi discusses the ways in which black women were assigned particular derogatory images based upon mythological representations of black womanhood. Within the Black reformists' movement and discourse arose the rhetoric of respectability, which "placed an exaggerated importance on Black female deference" (14).  New images of African American women as deferential, chase, and passionless became present in literature and other mediums, attempting to debunk older stereotypes which portrayed Black women as morally loose, hypersexual, and lascivious. Despite these attempts to reshape Black female identity, Mgadmi points out that the very movement to 'uplift' the lives of African Americans is based upon many of the exact same values and beliefs that condemned, enslaved, and degraded them (14). The effect of this movement had (and likely continues to have) a dramatic impact on the lives of African American women, who, in their efforts to maintain a 'respectable' identity have been marginalized, abused, and frequently forced to remain silent so as not to appear to have fallen back into promiscuity, the old stereotype (16). Black women's behaviors, attitudes, and identity have been fundamentally altered by their attempts to refute demeaning stereotypes and images associated with their race and gender, though with largely problematic results (21).



This blog entry from the Blog of the Society for U.S. Intellectual Interests also examines the manifestations and effects of the "politics of respectability"--from the unofficial dress code at black history conferences to the emphasis placed upon marriage as a mark of moral superiority. The blog entry agrees that the rhetoric of respectability may have had negative consequences for black women, but also posits that in some circumstances this was an idea that cut across class lines and had the potential to be freeing, although the evidence the author provides as to how it might have been freeing was not particularly compelling.



Joslin S



Article from the Washington Post in 2009 about the potential changing racial make up of drug offenders in state prisons. Suggests the opposite of what Alexander says and would have come out just before the book was published the first time.




W Oct 10

Evaluating the Arguments


The Nation: Stopped-and-Frisked: 'For Being a F***king Mutt'


The causal argument

Human Rights Watch: the United States

Human Rights Watch: Teens in Solitary Confinement


Occupy: US Human Rights doublestandard

Ignatieff, Michael. (Ed.) 2005. American Exceptionalism and Human Rights.

Ignatieff. ‘Introduction.’

Fletcher, William A. (2010) ‘International Human Rights and the Role of the United States.’


Office of National Drug Control Policy


CASA: Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population (2010)


The New Orleans Times-Picayune: Lousiana is the World’s Prison Capital (2012)

: rates of incarceration



F Oct 12

Interim report on student projects and Review


M Oct 15

Midterm Exam


W Oct 17

No Class: Individual Meetings


F Oct 19

No Class: Mid-Semester Day







The Casualty Gap:

The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities (2010)


Douglas L. Kriner and Francis X. Shen


M Oct 22

Read: CG, pp. vii-55


Ch.1. The Casualty Gap

Ch.2. Inequality and US Casualties from WWII to Iraq


US Army: official webpage

US Army: ‘Army Strong’ Ad short version 2006

US Army: ‘Get Noticed’ 150 careers 2010

US Army: ‘Officer’ Ad 2009


Congressional Research Service: American War and Military Operations Casualties (2010)

NA, MSMR: Deaths while on Active Duty in the US Armed Forces, 1990-2011 (2012).



Brett S



A speech by the late George McGovern on politics and sending men off to to die for it. 



A 2005 article that discusses the high recruitment statistics for rural communities. 



A 2006 study that reaffirms the notion of high rural recruitment. 



Scotty F






One of the failures of the book is that it does not point out the widening economic disparage in American life. The communities, which are affluent, are becoming more and more affluent but remaining a very small proportion of the overall population. Thus it is somewhat understandable that they have a smaller proportion of the casualties. Additionally, the idea of the GI bill is enticing to people who would be unable to otherwise attend college. This too is something that is not addressed. While it is hard to find evidence to find fault with the comprehensive methods laid out in the book it would be interesting if it also talked about treatment of the different classes within the military system. Many people who enlist at stations are ones that are unemployed; of this there is no doubt. The book does not acknowledge that there are different ranks in the military and as one ascends the chances of being in the field diminish. So the grunts are more likely than those that enter into officer training school. If the book addressed this could, it add greatly to the idea of a casualty gap.



T Oct 23


Cone Chapel



Sr. Helen Prejean, (she of Dead Man Walking fame), speaking about her work against capital punishment as a guest of Oregonians Against the Death Penalty.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:sr_helen_prejean_200.jpg






W Oct 24

Read: CG, pp. 56-130

Ch.3. Selection, Occupational Assignment, and the Emergence of the Casualty Gap

Ch.4. Do Casualty Gaps Matter?

Ch.5. How Local Casualties Shape Politics


e.g. Thomas Tucker Madras Oregon and and and




Amy M




Published in 2008, this article affirms Chapter 3's argument that one of the two ways in which the military reflects socio-economic inequalities in the civilian sector is through the individuals and communities they target to recruit (p 65). These areas tend to have higher rates of unemployment, with their individuals having lower income and education levels. This article is interesting because while the author supports a more intelligent military to further the gap caused by occupational assignment in the military ("aptitude is key...replacing a tank gunner who had scored Category IV with one who'd scored Category IIIA improved the chances of hitting a target by 34 percent"), in the end the article concludes that this "troubling" trend is all the more reason why we should be more careful about getting into wars. This part falls more in line with Chapter 4's argument.



Peter A





Kriner and Shen acknowledge that enlisted soldiers do not have the same propensity to move up the occupational ladder as officers and the like. Yet, this article from an online military community website proves that some actually make a career out of the decision - and end up managing squads and reaching significantly high ranks. It seems to be a possibility, if one just works hard enough.





Kriner and Shen's analysis of infantry/noninfantry does absolutely no justice to the enlisted soldier's reality. This study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics compares the actual occupational details and breakdown of both officers and the enlisted. While officer occupations are surely different, the enlisted occupations connote much more than simple combat and infantry work.





Kriner and Shen cite the economy and job security as the single largest component of military enlistment. Her casualty gap argument relies on communities of low income individuals enlisting simply because they are economically forced to make that choice. However, this argument from a newspaper in Abilene, TX suggests that patriotism is still the top reason for fueling enlistment. 




F Oct 26

Read: CG, pp.48-55, 83-91,104-108, 124-130

Technical Appendixes

Making sense of the Data

With Prof. Jim Friedrich


M Oct 29

Read: CG, pp. 131-190

Ch.6. Political Ramifications of the Vietnam Casualty Gap

Ch.7. Political Ramifications of the Iraq Casualty Gap


Defense Dept Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond causalties

USAToday Iraq Casualties

Washington Post Faces of the Fallen

NYTimes Military Suicides

NPR Rising Tide of Suicides

DoD Virtual Hope Box App



Brian V



This is a study that examines the association that exists between state per captita income and war deaths in both the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. The scatter plots are particularly useful in visualizing this relationship.


Historical Revisionism and Vietnam War Public Opinion

Mark D. Harmon. 2010. Peace Studies Journal, 3.2: 15-32.

This article intends to disprove the idea that the media adversely affected the outcome of the Vietnam War due to its negative portrayal in the news. What is relevant to this chapter is the section that addresses the correlation between income and education and support for the Vietnam War. The study found that those with lower income and education were more likely to oppose the war. This could be due to the fact that they were more likely to have known a casualty of the war. 




Andrew K


Other ways of accounting for diminishing support for the war:



This site doesn’t really make an argument on this page but does give ethnic statistics that show that a larger percentage of African Americans died.


Argues that war time support is associated with the likely hood of victory, not necessarily local causality rates.  While it accepts that the casualty gap exists this article questions the methodology of data collected during the Korean and Civil War (332) as it is missing months of data that is autocorrected in the graphs.  It also links the diminishing likelihood of victory to the diminishing popular support for the war.  For example, when China intervened in Korea support dropped dramatically.


Article expresses multiple areas of the cost of war.  This article gives a couple more reasons for why support would diminish in a war.  It points to a cultural and economic impact along with the socio-economic one.  This article really isn’t against the findings of Kriner and Shen but does show other places to look.  



W Oct 31

Read: CG, pp. 191-234

Ch.8. The Casualty Gap and Civic Engagement

Ch.9. The Future of the Casualty Gap


Alexis V


1. Excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b80Bsw0UG-U

            This isn't the exact speech that the authors mention, but the content is similar. The excerpts mention the wounded, war as an enemy of the poor, and... er, stuff like that.


2. Kant, Perpetual Peace – https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/kant/kant1.htm

            Section II is particularly relevant, I think. The authors of The Casualty Gap seem to make the same assumption as Kant (when citizens have to decide whether to go to war, they will be much more cautious than a ruler).

            I don't know whether this is necessary, but I'm attaching a pdf about liberalism in which specific passages from this essay are cited.


3. ProPublica/NPR investigation, "Brain Injuries Remain Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers" – http://www.propublica.org/article/brain-injuries-remain-undiagnosed-in-thousands-of-soldiers

            The authors talked about a lack of focus on the wounded, so here's an article on the subject.



Andres O



This is an honors thesis about the decline in voting, and the speculated reasons this decline is occurring. This points out a number of established reasons why voting is declining. Moreover, a number of the factors that The Casualty Gap points to for determining the gap, are factors in declining voter turnout. To me this challenges the assumed correlation between the casualty gap and declined civic participation. I believe they are correlated, and it is much more likely that they are both caused by the same factors, rather than the decline being mainly caused by the casualty gap.



This website focusses mainly on registration as a barrier that decreases voter turnout, this is also backed in the thesis link on page 27. The website also talks about the idea of popular election, and runoffs asserts that doing so would raise turnout as well as better represent minorities. This also links to the idea that frustration with the electoral college, and feelings from people that their "vote doesn't matter" could be a factor in declining civic participation. The website has a progressive perspective, but I find that no reason to discard its information.



As one of the most overused discussions on civic engagement, bowling alone has become the go-to source of links between social capitol, and civic participation. It believes declining civic engagement is caused primarily by things such as technology, decline in community organizations, and over all in-person interaction.



F Nov 2


Evaluating Arguments


The causal arguments





Fischer, Hannah. 2010. ‘U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.’ Congressional Research Service



Health Care


Edwards, R. 2008. ‘Widening health inequalities among U.S. military retirees since 1974.’ Soc Sci Med. 67(11):1657-68.





Obama and Veterans’ mental health (2012)

Realwarriors.net website


Rozanov, V and V. Carli. 2012. ‘Suicide among war veterans.’

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 9(7):2504-19. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


Boscarino, JA. 2006. ‘Posttraumatic stress disorder and mortality among U.S. Army veterans 30 years after military service.’ Ann Epidemiol. 16(4):248-56.



Race again


Burk, James and Evelyn Espinoza. 2012. ‘Race Relations Within the US Military.’ Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 38: 401-422 


Preston, Samuel H. and Emily Buzzell. 2006. "Mortality of American Troops in Iraq." PSC Working Paper Series PSC 06-01.




London, Andrew S and Janet M. Wilmoth. 2006. ‘Military Service and (Dis)Continuity in the Life Course: Evidence on Disadvantage and Mortality From the Health and Retirement Study and the Study of Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest-Old.’ Research on Aging, 28.1:135-59.





Segal, Mady Wechsler and David R. Segal. 2007. ‘Latinos claim larger share of US Military Personnel.’ Population Reference Bureau.


Sachs, Lee William. 2007. ‘US Military Targets Poor Latinos for Duties in Iraq.’ VeteransToday.com


Kagan, Miriam. ‘Hispanic Soldiers pay a bloody toll in Iraq.’ FinalCall.com, 2003.


Latinos and Military Combat Operations’ 2012



Urban-rural and race yet again


Curtis, Katherine J. And Collin F. Payne. 2010. ‘The differential impact of mortality of American troops in the Iraq War: The non-metropolitan dimension.’ Demographic Research 23.2:41-62.














NYT: Army Seeks Death Penalty (13 Nov 12)







Lives Per Gallon:

The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction (2006)

Terry Tamminen






Oregon Collier Glacier (2007) and PBS (2012, 6.28min) and pics



Car in Uniform

Hummer Club

Tread Lightly



BP Oil, recently BP deep-water disaster, formerly bp: Beyond Petroleum and before that BP Oil




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Huffington Post: Climate Change in Presidential Debates ... Until Now (9.45 min)

Presidential elections and climate change: afraid to say (2012)




Canadian show on Terry Tamminen on Schwarzenegger (2007)

Australian Interview with Tamminen (9/27/2007) (16 min)


David Suzuki on Climate Change (2007)



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is this a good slogan?




M Nov 5


Read: LpG, pp. 1-51


Chapter 1: The Breath of Our Fathers

Chapter 2: A Losing Proposition


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Brian V



This is a study produced by the California Environmental Health Agency's Air Resources Board. The study examines the long-term effects of particulates on the lungs of children living in areas with high concentration of pollution.



This article examines some of the mental health effects that pollution can have on people. One study found that asthmatic teenagers were more than twice as likely to commit suicide during the time of the study than healthy teenagers.



Interactive map showing the extend of the 2010 BP Oil Spill.



Rose R




This article was posted on ExxonMobil’s Perspectives blog by the company’s vice president of public and government affairs. The stated purpose of the blog is to share ExxonMobil’s “views on the issues, policies, technologies and trends that are shaping the energy industry”. Obviously, as this is a blog fully endorsed and supported by ExxonMobil, the articles presented are biased favorably towards the company’s perspective and interests, as demonstrated in this entry by Ken Cohen about Responsible Care. Responsible Care is an initiative started by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) in 1985, with the goal of driving “continuous improvement in health, safety and environmental performance, together with an open and transparent communication with stakeholders.” As the Perspectives article explains, in June of this year ExxonMobil was selected by the American Chemistry Council (the U.S. branch of the ICCA) to receive the 2012 Responsible Care Company of the Year. Cohen attributes ExxonMobil’s receipt of the award to a number of improvements and innovations made by the company in recent years, including a reduction in the “recordable incidence rate”, “gains in energy efficiency and emissions reductions”, introduction of “new materials that perform better while reducing environmental impact”, and “innovations in polyethylene”. The blog entry also mentions that companies like ExxonMobil participating in Responsible Care are committed to monitoring and publicly reporting their “performance in key areas that include: workplace safety, air and water quality, and energy efficiency, and emergency preparedness.” Clearly this blog entry is attempting to paint an entirely different picture of ExxonMobil and the oil/chemical industry then the image detailed by Tamminen in Lives per Gallon. Tamminen provided a substantial amount of evidence underscoring the lack of improvement and innovation in precisely the areas mentioned in Responsible Care, like workplace safety, air and water quality, energy efficiency, and emergency preparedness. This demonstrates the company’s at least superficial awareness of the industry’s issues, and attempts to address these issues by claiming that some improvements have been achieved over time. However, Lives per Gallon emphasizes that despite some efforts (or performance of effort) by energy/chemical industries and policy makers, the majority of these issues still require massive changes/adjustments, and there is still a lot of work to do before we begin to actually address the issues outlined by Tamminen in a substantial way.



Here is the ICCA’s webpage about the Responsible Care initiative. Interestingly, despite the website’s claims about the importance of transparency and sharing information with the public, much of the information I tried to access on the website requires entry of an ICCA username and password…




W Nov 7


Read: LpG, pp. 53-105
Chapter 3: Desperate Enterprise

Chapter 4: All That Glitters



Terry Tamminen interview on politics (1.38min)


Sheila Watt Cloutier Message to Americans (2007) and WU 2009


Siila (Sheila) Watt-Cloutier

"Everything is connected"

Sophie Prize Winner (2005)
Nobel Peace Prize nominee 2007

Time Heroes of the Environment 2008 (No.5 of 32)

A human issue” by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Summary of the Petition” to the IAC on Human Rights

Petition” to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights




Galen D




Tenny P



This is an article about the myth of "peak oil," or the idea that our current rates of consumption are so high that they are environmentally and economically destructive.  It essentially asserts that there is more oil to be found if human ingenuity is allowed to (and forced to) find it.



This is an oddly brief message on a journalist's (David Frum's) blog.  It briefly talks about the fact that as of 2013 Iraq's oil production will be at an all time high. While this doesn't mean that Tamminen was wrong in using the idea of Iraq's ruined oil infrastructure in his book, it does mitigate that point in the current day.



This article suggests that, counter to Tamminen's point, the production of CO2 by humans is decreasing.  This article lists several reasons why this is not a major political issue, which seem debatable, but also suggests that the US is leading the world in CO2 reduction, falling all the way back to 1996 levels this year.



This is Chevron's explanation of why they are no longer culpable for the mistakes made by their subsidiary, Texaco.




F Nov 9

No Class




M Nov 12

Read: LpG, pp. 107-154
Chapter 5: Wealth Seems Rather to Possess Them

Chapter 6: Worse Poison to Men's Souls


National City Lines and Taken for a Ride

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehoVnykvMKY (8.23 min)




Big Oil and the U.S. Chamber Fight to Keep Foreign Bribery Flourishing (2012)




Anthony M




This is the EPA's brochure on the "Gas Guzzler Tax," which is imposed on auto makers who fail to meet a fuel economy standard of 22.5 mpg. This is a separate regulation from the CAFE standards that Tamminen discusses, but the numbers are strikingly similar - the CAFE standards that the auto industry rejected under Bush would have lowered the average requirement to 22.2 mpg because the requirements for SUVs were so lax. The Gas Guzzler tax, on the other hand, directly exempts SUVs and trucks because they didn't represent a large portion of the cars used when the law was enacted. They've been grandfathered out of having to change while also setting the lowest overall standards that CAFE has produced.



This is a petition filed with the EPA in 2006 from an environmental advocacy group, demanding a change in the rules allowing for the continued use of lead in airplane fuel. The petition reiterates Tamminen's points about the hazards of lead in airplane fuel, and cites an EPA response to an earlier petition in which the EPA denied that there was sufficient evidence of damage from leaded jet fuel. It also discusses alternatives, pointing out that there are ways in which planes could be adapted to fly on regular gasoline or other unleaded fuels, but the EPA has left it up to airlines and the FAA to develop these options on an entirely voluntary basis.



The last one is more of a series of links, so I'm listing it separately (I'm also not as sure about the validity of the websites). I was looking into high-speed rail production in California, and I found this opinion piece pitting two authors on opposite sides of the issue against each other:



As it turns out, the anti-rail author works for the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think-tank.



The Reason Foundation is funded primarily by Koch Family Foundations, but also by groups in the oil industry, most notably ExxonMobil.



The point being that the oil industry seems to be fighting high-speed rail in the same way that it fought against streetcars 70 years ago. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any more direct evidence than this.




Andrew K



Opinion article supporting the car industry inspired argument that switching electronic battery operated cars is unfeasible.  The article argues that the batteries are more harmful to our environment because unlike harmful pollutants.  It also makes the argument that only 8% of our electricity comes from renewable resources so electric cars would still only be fueled by 8% of renewable electricity. 


Article address a pro CNW Marketing Research argument and does not really inspect the source.  Reports on CNW Marketing Research inc.’s findings instead of examining the source which if fine because there are many critical sites. Over 150 cars are more environmentally friendly over the cost of a lifetime than the Prius. 


Article attacks the CNW Marketing Research methodology as it is unclear and not transparent.  CNW says they are accounting for everything and use the metaphor of coffee.  CNW argues their analysis covered everything from the coffee to the cost of the mug maker.  Bengt Halvorson (author) argues that this lack of transparency and the battle between environmentalists and CNW pushes the public to demand more transparency. 

T Nov 13


Sebastian Junger

Into the Valley of Death

7.30pm Smith Auditorium


Junger will discuss his experiences at “The Front Lines of History.” He’s witnessed heroic, disturbing and life-affirming events while covering such issues as human rights abuses in Sierra Leone, Liberian civil war, war crimes in Kosovo, hostage-taking in Kashmir and guerrilla war in Afghanistan.


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W Nov 14


Read: LpG, pp. 155-211
Chapter 7: Postcards from the Year 2025

Chapter 8: The Quality of Mercy - Oil on Trial

Epilogue: The Seventh Generation


Tar Sands Extraction- The Dirty Truth (11.39 min)

Alberta Government: Oil Sands and US






Heritage.org: Legacy Lawsuit Strategy (8 May 2012)



Alexis V


1. Frontline, Climate of Doubt – http://video.pbs.org/video/2295533310

            "Four years ago, climate change was a hot issue and politicians from both sides seemed poised to act. Today public opinion on the climate issue has cooled considerably. Politicians either ignore it or proclaim their skepticism. What’s behind this massive reversal? FRONTLINE goes inside the organizations that fought the scientific establishment to shift the direction of the climate debate."


2. Richard A. Muller, The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?pagewanted=all



3. US EPA climate change page – http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/


4. Neil deGrasse Tyson on space, climate change, and the greenhouse effect – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IsTM5qRER8

            Though Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about funding NASA, his argument can easily be applied to funding environmental research and new technology.




Andres O


The focus will be the steps to Energy Independence presented, specifically step 2. The reason for this focus is that if the suggested action from this book isn't beneficial, then there is no clear solution to the problem. Step 2 is the skimmed over passage called fuel efficiency, the passage truly focuses on biofuels and the need to move away from petroleum. It is also crucial since Hydrogen fuel is not viable, and will not be for quite some time.



This summarizes the main contentions of a SF opinions piece. In essence it argues that increasing reliance on biofuel will increase crop and meat prices, that subsidies encourage farmers to convert forests into farmland, and that the process of producing ethanol fuel wastes 4 times as much water.



This addresses other major problems with biofuel. Biofuels cause more greenhouse gas emissions when factoring in production and converting forests to farmlands reduces stored carbon.



This addresses hydrogen as a fuel source, focussing primarily on the UK. Even though it seems supportive of Hydrogen as a fuel source, it still cautions to not expect Hydrogen as a major fuel source anytime soon.




F Nov 16


Evaluating Tamminen’s Arguments


Causality in Lives per Gallon

What To Do About America's "Oil Addiction" or here (11/2/2006) (4.46 min)

Top 10 things by Tamminen




Terry Tamminen: 2010 Zayed Future Energy Award Finalist (12 Feb 2011)

Terry Tamminen: Bled Conference Builinding the Green Economy (14 April 2012)

Regional Environmentalism: Regions20.org

Sustainia Award – Schwarzenegger (2012, 9.35min)

Terry Tamminen: Moving by Degrees (2012, 1.06min)







Political Instability and Fuel

NYT: Riots Erupt Across Jordan over Gas Prices (13 Nov 12)



NYT: BP will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion (16 Nov 12)



NYT: Fuel from Waste, Poised at a Milestone (13 Nov 12)



Mother Jones: Hydrogen’s Dirty Secret (2003)








Peter A



This article from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights highlights a claim that many politicians rallied behind after Bush stated that the U.S. was addicted to oil. Highlighting that the U.S. gets its problems from oil rich dictatorships not the concept of oil itself, it paves the way for arguments concerning domestic oil production.





This article argues that that current trends show that the U.S. is set to become the leading producer of oil - surpassing Saudi Arabia - by 2020. Pairing this change with the targeted increases in fuel efficiency of cars, the U.S. is looking towards self-reliance on its own domestic oil production - something that does not connote a vicious addiction. The video helps support the claim of healthy domestic drilling: "it's supply and demand, its what America does."





These two articles partially breakdown the lobbying argument. The first article shows that while oil lobbying is certainly an industry that lobbies a lot, it is not the industry that the most. The second link proves that lobbyists are a necessary part of the American government. While you may read about claims of corrupt industries supporting legislation for increased profits, its also important to note that lobbyists support you and your interests as well.




Frivolous Lawsuits

Heritage.org: Legacy Lawsuit Strategy: Blame Natural Damages on Oil Companies (8 May 2012)



Oil Sands as Ethical Oil?

Ethicaloil.org v deepclimate.org


Keystone XL Pipeline



Friends of the Earth

National Wildlife Federation

Natural resources Defense Council


Mother Jones: Meet the Tar Sands PR Wizard (19 Oct 2011)




Economy dependent?

NYT: In Europe, Green Energy takes a hit from Debt Crisis (13 Nov 2012)




Maldistribution of pollution effects?

NYT: The Problem is Clear: The Water is Filthy (13 Nov 12)






M Nov 19

 Class Presenting using IT


WITS on making webpages

a.      Ahead

b.     Google docs

c.      Prezi

d.     280 slides

e.      Voicethread

f.       Wix




W Nov 21

Į No Class individual meetings




F Nov 23

Į NO Class - Thanksgiving






M Nov 26

Į Student Presentations

Scotty F

Fibromyalgia: Life is Pain

Andres O

Death with Dignity: A look at medicine through Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act

Jon Harlem

Willamette Valley Hospice: A Service-Learning Project






W Nov 28

Į Student Presentations

Leif H

Locking Up Democracy?: Exploring America’s recent fixation with privatized prisons

Brett S

Department of Disservice: The US Military and Sexual Trauma

Anthony M

Gun control and Death in America

Peter A

Adverse Childhood Experiences: Marion County Community Services:




F Nov 30

Į Student Presentations

Tenny P

Nutrition in Schools

Andrew K

iDeath: Nike 2.0

Joslin S

CAUSA: Latin@ Voters

Maribel V

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: A Band Aid on Undocumented Immigration




M Dec 3

Į Student Presentations

Galen D

Food Policy and Death

Brian V

Addicted America: Why it is time to end our longest and most expensive war

Rose R

Police Brutality: politics, psychology, and the use of force

Alexis V

Some Children Left Behind: Education and Death in America




W Dec 5

Į Student Presentations

Amy M

WIC: Preventive Care to Provide Equal Opportunity


F Dec 7




Mon Dec 10,
8-11 am

Final Exam and Final Paper due