[Note: This post originally appeared on the MIT Open Learning website.]

MIT OpenCourseWare offers a variety of freely available, open-access MIT course materials on race and the history of race relations in the United States. A few notable courses include:

  • Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies (Linguistics and Philosophy)
    • Description: Interdisciplinary survey of people of African descent that draws on the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing. This course connects the experiences of African-Americans and of other American minorities, focusing on social, political, and cultural histories, and on linguistic patterns.
  • Race, Ethnicity, and American Politics (Political Science)
    • Description: This course explores the role of race and ethnicity in modern American politics. It focuses on social science approaches to measuring the effects of race, both at the individual level and more broadly. Topics include race and representation, measurement of racial and ethnic identities, voting rights and electoral districting, protest and other forms of political participation, and the meaning and measurement of racial attitudes.
  • Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law (History)
    • Description: This seminar looks at key issues in the historical development and current state of modern American criminal justice, with an emphasis on its relationship to citizenship, nationhood, and race/ethnicity. We begin with a range of perspectives on the rise of what is often called “mass incarceration”: how did our current system of criminal punishment take shape, and what role did race play in that process? Part Two takes up a series of case studies, including racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty, enforcement of the drug laws, and the regulation of police investigations. The third and final part of the seminar looks at national security policing: the development of a constitutional law governing the intersection of ethnicity, religion, and counter-terrorism, and the impact of counter-terrorism policy on domestic police practices.
  • Topics in Social Theory and Practice: Race and Racism (Linguistics and Philosophy)
    • Description: Courses in the Topics in Social Theory and Practice series feature in-depth considerations of such topics with reflections on their implications for social change. The topic for this course is race and racism. We will consider a variety of arguments for and against the biological and / or social “reality” of race—taking into account purported races other than those defined by the black / white binary and the intersection of race with other social categories. We will then consider a number of accounts of racism, contemporary manifestations of racism, and potential counter-measures.
  • Writing About Race (Department of Comparative Media Studies/Writing)
    • Description: Does race still matter, as Cornel West proclaimed in his 1994 book of that title, or do we now live, as others maintain, in a post-racial society? The very notion of what constitutes race remains a complex and evolving question in cultural terms. In this course we will engage this question head-on, reading and writing about issues involving the construction of race and racial identity as reflected from a number of vantage points and via a rich array of voices and genres. Readings will include literary works by such writers as Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, and Sherman Alexie, as well as perspectives on film and popular culture from figures such as Malcolm Gladwell and Touré.

Additional resources are available and searchable by topic, department, and/or MIT course number on the MIT OpenCourseWare website.

(Photos of Toni Morrison courtesy of Angela Radulescu on Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA. Photo of Malcolm X is in public domain, from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection, LC-USZC2-5832. Photo of protester with flag courtesy of UNARMED CIVILIAN on flickr. License CC BY-NC-SA. Photo of Ferguson sign courtesy of Light Brigading on flickr. License CC BY-NC. Photo of cardboard sign courtesy of PictureNewYorkLG on flickr. License CC BY-NC-SA.)