Core | Power & Representation

Provost Ben Leeds Carson at Fall 2016 Core Plenary

Kresge 1: Power and Representation

All entering frosh will be required to take a first-year “core course” titled College 1 (the specific name of your course will bear your college’s name). UCSC’s core courses are introductions to university discourse: critical thinking, contemplation of your process as a learner, engagement with others across difference, self-efficacy, and academic literacy. A primary purpose of these courses is to prepare you for the styles of reading, thinking, and engagement that you will encounter throughout the university experience. The courses also differ among the colleges, in that they are designed to build unique intellectual communities, bringing the first-year students together around distinctive themes and questions.


Our texts in Kresge 1—not just academic readings, but journalism, music, film & video, and other examples of our contemporary media culture—share a common intention: to explore and examine concepts of power available in social practices and institutions, and representation manifested in public discourse and the press. The course readings focus on ways that individuals and communities in the U.S. represent and constitute themselves through struggles for power and justice. The majority of our texts in this course are short essays on contemporary social justice problems, and on the interplay between representation—the ways that individuals are seen, heard, and understood in society—and power—how those representations determine our privileges, responsibilities, and capacity to pursue happiness in the world. Special emphasis is placed on activism, that is, on the question of how individuals and communities can intervene, take action, or advocate, for social justice.

Kresge 1 does not approach the question of social justice from a single discipline or field of expertise, in the way we might expect from a course in anthropology, politics, or legal studies. Instead, we approach these texts as an opportunity to practice and develop academic literacy. The problems raised in these texts are complex, and we do not aim to solve them, or even to learn about them comprehensively—those are challenges that we hope will deserve many years of your energy and collaboration. Instead, this course is about how we read and interpret texts, how we argue about those interpretations, apply arguments and interpretations to new situations ... in short, how academic knowledge is developed.

The Kresge Media and Society lecture series extends our core plenary sessions into the academic year, and is open to the campus community and general public.

The summer 2019 homework assignment can be found here.