The Occupy Wall Street protestors may have believed they were making history, but not even the most optimistic among them could have guessed their story would be taught in classrooms so soon. New York University, located just two miles north of the Zuccotti Park protest site, has included the Occupy movement in its curriculum for the Spring semester. NYU is offering two courses on the movement that began just months ago, but managed to put the issue of social inequality at the center of the national political debate.
An undergraduate lecture course, titled “Cultures and Economies: Why Occupy Wall Street?” lists goals as wide-ranging and frenetic as the protests themselves. According to the class description, students will focus on “economic inequality and financial greed” around the globe. Alright, that’s a honed-in goal – but they’ll examine those in the context of “race, class, gender, sexuality, region, religion and other factors.” It’s a mission statement as diverse as the demands of the actual protesters.
“Occupy Wall Street has done us all the service of illuminating [the fact] that the economy operates within the framework of political, social and cultural conflicts, and not outside them,” Professor Lisa Duggan, who will teach the course, told Washington Square News. She explained that the class will also feature guest speakers who are attending the actual protests.
And NYU, location aside, is among the most appropriate universities to offer Occupy classes. After all, with tuition at the prestigious institution breaching $42,000 (not including the exorbitant cost of New York City housing), students are almost assured to graduate with mounds of debt, a common complaint among the Zuccotti occupants. That, or they’re part of the 1% – which could make the Occupy courses a much-needed lesson in understanding the protesters for those reluctant to take a quick field trip to Zuccotti.
For more on Occupy Wall Street, check out What Is Occupy? Inside the Global Movement, a new book from the editors of TIME. To buy a copy as an e-book or a paperback, go to time.com/whatisoccupy.