The System takes many forms. It is The Market, The Media, and The Man. It is Transportation, Criminal Justice, and The University. And all of its forms are interconnected. Through discussions, readings, movies and videos, excursions, and experimentation, students immerse ourselves in thinking about The System and its many forms. They ask questions such as: How does The System work? How has it changed over time? Who or what controls and maintains it? Whose interests does it serve or curtail? Does it undermine or support such values as democracy and community? For answering these questions the students borrow tools from a wide range of fields, including sociology, cultural studies, American studies, economics, philosophy, popular culture, and future studies.Students learn to demystify and analyze complex social systems, explore their agency in relation to The System, and predict The System's future.
The capstone project assignment was to plan a campus party that predicted the future of a system or related issue for an audience of peers, by offering reflections on navigating that future. Building on the fall semester and insights from their class trip to Los Angeles, students chose a topic discussed in class that is a result of the system: the culture of productivity. The party served to question the culture of production normalized in college life, which includes a constant pressure to do well academically and get ahead in future career paths. The class provided art projects, bean bag chairs, pizza and a relaxing environment for students to take a break from the intensity of schoolwork. By giving students a moment of idleness among their busy schedules, the party provided a time of self-reflection for students to question their motives for success.