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Grant number like: AQ-50420-11

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St. Mary's College of Maryland (St. Mary's City, MD 20686-3001)
Iris C. Ford (Project Director: September 2010 to September 2014)

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants
Education Programs

$24,625 (approved)
$20,369 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2011 – 12/31/2013

NEH Enduring Questions Course on Materialism in Human Life

The development of a first-year seminar on the phenomenon of materialism, with particular regard to its ethical, cultural, and political dimensions.

The unprecedented scale of contemporary materialism and consumption raises disquieting questions about wealth and poverty, character and equality, the individual and the state, and collective and individual identities built on ethnicity, class, and gender. The proposed Enduring Questions course will be a First Year Seminar that will explore the complex issues of materialism and consumption through interdisciplinary, historical, and cross-cultural lens to uncover ethical, cultural, and political consequences. To grapple with these issues, students will embark on a course of study and discussion in three broad areas: a brief history of early Western attitudes towards commerce and consumption that continue to influence thinking today, an overview of the many and diverse claims and critiques of capitalism and consumption, and a synthesis and analysis of materialism and cross-cultural consumption practices from a contemporary context. The course will be revised in the second year.