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Breck Unveils New Course Offerings

Many students are registering for classes around this time. They will sign up for standard classes, history, math, English, and maybe an AP or two. However, some students will be piloting one or more of the four new classes Breck will be offering this year: Labor Studies; Truth and Repair; Honors Research: African American Studies; and Advanced English Scholarship and Research. 

Labor Studies and Truth and Repair will both be taught by Mr. Daniel and will be in the history department. Labor Studies will be a semester-long interdisciplinary course that looks at what it means to be part of the workforce both in the United States and abroad. It will have a historical aspect that looks at how what it means to be a member of the workforce has changed over time, as well as a focus on the present day that looks at how new developments like artificial intelligence change how we work. The class will spend a lot of time analyzing films and incorporate what Mr. Daniel called “sociological concepts” including gendered labor and invisible labor, as well as economics and labor statistics to help students understand what it means to be a part of a workforce. Additionally, he hopes that students will explore potential career paths through a series of individual projects that will allow students to explore where they want to work.

Mr. Daniel said that Truth and Repair will be a course that asks students to consider what we should do in the present to confront past harms. The class will look at different processes of repair throughout history to compare different approaches to repairing these injustices. Then after moving through a series of case studies the class will pivot to the present and examine how the United States should deal with similar questions such as federal reparations for slavery and a lawsuit over land between the Lakota nation and the U.S. government. Finally, the class will look at local issues like the University of Minnesota’s response to a report detailing harms perpetrated against Native Americans. Students will be able to hear from guest speakers as the class progresses about many of these issues. 

Dr. Googe will teach a new class called Honors Research: African American Studies. Conversations took place around Breck about the need to increase the Melrose Center’s involvement in academics. The class will start by looking at African kingdoms and end with the contemporary civil rights movement. The class will study Black history through the lens of Black scholarship and perspectives, and try to include unique sources to have students learn beyond what might be covered in a typical Black history course. Students will discuss four main books as well as other texts, films, and primary sources. The class will end with an independent research paper like other honors research classes at Breck. 

The English department will also be offering a new class called Advanced English Scholarship and Research this year. Lotze framed it as the English department’s answer to other advanced research programs in other departments and said the goal was for it to replace AP Literature and Composition as the capstone English class. The year-long course will focus on literature as a response to art. After reviewing literary analysis, students will respond to a selection of literature that was written in response to art. Then in the second semester, students will pursue their own research as it relates to this theme. Lotze said that she hopes that students will be able to send out their papers for publication and gain experience in the peer review process. Lotze said that the best part of the course will be the ability to work together in a small group of students with the ability to build on each other’s ideas, something Lotze said is increasingly rare the farther students go in their educational journeys. 

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