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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Rich, Free, and Miserable: The Failure of "Success" in America

Instructor(s): John Brueggeman, Sociology

Why is the American Dream in trouble? With unparalleled resources and opportunities, this should be the best time and place to live in human history. Despite may positive signs, the social fabric of American society is thinning. Decreasing time devoted to family and neighbors, increasing energy spent working and shopping, widespread patterns of unhealthy and damaging consumption, and growing distrust and incivility in public life are all too common patterns reflecting this decline. Students will examine the deteriorating state of community in America, focusing on the lack of balance between the three great spheres of social life: the economic sphere, civil society, and the polity. More specifically, students will pursue the following questions: What are the most important strengths and weaknesses of American society? What are the realistic possibilities for retaining the strengths and addressing the weaknesses? How can we as individual citizens help restore balance to our society and in our own lives.

Course Offered