The Continuing Significance of History: An Active-Learning Simulation to Teach About the Origins of Racial Inequality

The Continuing Significance of History: An Active-Learning Simulation to Teach About the Origins of Racial Inequality

by Vanessa Stout, Trinity College, Dublin, Kelsy Kretschmer & Christopher Stout, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

We propose that instructors utilize a variation of the game Monopoly, Ships and Shoes, to teach students how legacies of discrimination affect current racial inequality. To accomplish this goal, Ships and Shoes uses a multistage exercise in which students are arbitrarily assigned different game pieces, receive unequal compensation and are subject to different rules based on those assignments. In the second half of the exercise, we end the original unequal policies and make nominal improvements to the situation of the disadvantaged game pieces. The activity approximates the experiences of racial minorities and whites in the United States during two time periods: before and after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which ended legal segregation. Through our review of qualitative and quantitative data from an introductory social science course, we find that participants of Ships and Shoes better understand how historic discriminatory policies influence modern-day racial inequality.

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This Educate-JPSE collaboration brings together articles published in the Journal of Political Science Education that discuss classroom approaches related to teaching about race, racism, social justice and civic action. Our reading list offers a range of materials – from syllabi, reading lists to active learning assignments – that discuss classroom practices through the lens of identity, gender and power relations. It includes a model for professors who are interested in partnering with local community activists to design civically engaged courses, with specific examples covering research and organizing around affordable housing issues. 

The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.