Equality Policies in Comparative Approach

Undergraduate Program Status

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
US Credits: 
Course Description: 

The main aim of this course is to familiarize students with how the abstract political and legal principle of equality is turned into policy and practice. Starting from what equality means as a basic legal principle and right in modern democratic systems, the course will move on to critically analyze the policy visions, policy approaches and policy tools used to put equality into practice. The literature to which the course refers will be interdisciplinary in nature with texts mainly from political science and policy studies but also from political philosophy and law.

The course will look at all grounds of inequality but especially at race and ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual orientation and devote special attention to the intersection between different inequality axes. The course will focus primarily on domestic and international policy practices as those developed in the last five decades but it will also reflect upon recent challenges to equality thinking. Students will be encouraged to bring in the discussion issues and cases from the policy environments with which they are most familiar, and look into how equality policy practices can travel across countries and regions.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course will sensitize students interested in larger and specific issues of governance, politics, and public policy to challenges of social diversity, cleavages and distinctions pertinent to developed and new democracies and societies in transformations. The course will invite students to develop their skills of critical thinking by understanding major theoretical, political and policy debates that shape considerations on the principles of social equality and justice. The teaching method will ensure that students have to regularly synthesize different pieces of knowledge and to critically evaluate the differences and overlaps of arguments (discussion of the core readings), to conduct targeted small inquiries on relevant policy cases (group mini-projects), and to develop their academic writing skills (report on mini-projects and term paper).


(1) All enrolled students are expected to carefully consult with the required readings prior to the classes, ideally by taking notes. Active participation in the seminar discussions is expected from all students. The questions for discussion assigned to the sessions in the syllabus help students interpret the readings and identify the main conceptual puzzles, arguments, and debates related to the topic of the session. Students are expected to be prepared to reflect upon these questions in the class.

Weight to the grade: 20%

(2) Students will participate in small group based mini-projects exploring policy cases which may range from policy debates, legislative or strategy development, implementation puzzles, the assessment of transformation effects. Groups are planned to have four-five weeks to work together and then present and discuss their findings with the class and prepare a short written analytical report. Members of the groups are expected to work in a fair division of labor.

Weight to the grade: 40%

(3) Students will write a term paper of 2,500 words. The paper shall be a critical essay connected to one of the equality policy debates or issues discussed in class, and reflect on the literature assigned to the topic (both core and at last one of the recommended readings (minimum 3 items). Additional references could also be used. The paper could be tied to the topic of the students’ groups work. Preliminary discussion with the course instructors on the paper topic is encouraged. The deadline for submitting the term paper will be adjusted to DPP exam schedules.

Weight to the grade: 40%