Equality Policy in Comparative Perspective

Course Description: 

Elective course

The main aim of this course is to familiarize students with how the abstract legal principle of equality is turned into policy and practice. Starting from what equality means as a basic legal principle and right in modern democratic systems, the course will move on to critically analyze the policy visions, policy approaches and policy tools used to put equality into practice. The literature to which the course refers will be interdisciplinary in nature with some texts of political philosophy, and law, but mainly political science and policy writings.

The course will look at all grounds of inequality but especially at race and ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual orientation and devote special attention to the intersection between different inequality axes. The course will focus primarily on policy practice in Europe and North America. Students will be encouraged to bring documents, issues and cases from the policy environments with which they are most familiar.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course will sensitize students interested in larger and specific issues of governance, politics, and public policy to challenges of social diversity, cleavages and distinctions pertinent to most developed and new democracies and societies in transformations. Due to the nature of the topic, the course will invite students to develop their skills of critical thinking by understanding major theoretical, political and policy debates that shape considerations on the principles of social equality and justice. The teaching method will ensure that students have to regularly synthesize different pieces of knowledge (discussion of the core readings), to critically evaluate the differences and overlaps of arguments (presentations), to do targeted small inquiries for relevant policy cases (term paper), and to develop their academic writing skills (written support to the presentation and term paper).



(1) All enrolled students are expected to carefully consult with the required readings prior to the classes, ideally by taking notes. Active participation in the seminar discussions is expected from all students. The questions for discussion assigned to the sessions in the syllabus help student interpret the readings and identify the main conceptual puzzles, arguments, and debates related to the topic of the session. Students are expected to be prepared to reflect upon these questions in the class both individually or in the framework of the group-work. Weight to the grade: 10%


(2) Students should participate in the small group based presentations. These groups, composed by 3 students, will be formed at the beginning of the semester. Each group has to take presentation assignments 2 times in the semester. The group presentations should be concise and up to the point in not more than 10 minutes per group. To articulate talking points Powerpoint, Prezi, etc. presentation support instruments can be used but not more than 4-5 slides per group. Alternatively, print-out outlines (not more than half page long) should be offered to class members. Presentations shall be uploaded on the course intranet site within one week of the actual session. This is part of the assignment. Members of the groups are expected to collaborate in preparing for the presentation prior to the class and manage a reasonable division of labor in the oral and the written components of the task. Weight to the grade: 30%


(3) Students will write a term paper of 2,500-3,000 words. The paper shall be a critical essay connected to one of the equality policy debates or issues discussed in class, and reflect on the literature assigned to the topic (both core and at last one of the recommended readings (minimum 3 items). Additional references could also be used. Preliminary discussion with the course instructors on the paper topic is encouraged. The deadline for submitting the paper topic is 31st of October, 2015. The deadline for submitting the term paper will be adjusted to DPP exam schedules.

Weight to the grade: 60%