Why do you have to work for a living? Why is it that you get paid the wage you do? Why do we connect our value to our job? Is labor just something done 9am-5pm under an employer?

If you find these important questions interesting, then HSTCMP 249/ POL S 249/SOC 266: Introduction to Labor Studies, being offered this summer, might be the course for you!

In this class, taught by Larry Cushnie (PhD, Political Science, University of Washington), students explore conceptual and theoretical issues in the study of labor and work.

Labor movements and debates about labor have played an important role in shaping the modern world and todays political landscape. By the end of course students will have a nuanced and robust body of knowledge conceptualizing how historical labor movements coalesce into the contemporary landscape of work.

Students will chart the history of labor rights and movements in the US and will be challenged to think critically and conceptually about labor. They will be asked to delve deep into understandings of the normative implications of various labor movements; contextual understandings of the battles to protect workers; and the intersection of struggles between race and recognition in labor.

Kylie Otani, a former Introduction to Labor Studies student, said of the class:


I really enjoyed this class. Being able to learn about a variety of different aspects of labor including striking and boycotts, wage debates, and labor law really changed my view of the systems we have in the US…anyone that wants to be challenged to think in new ways about our labor system will really enjoy this class.


This is a chance to study labor in a time when the value of work and workers, and the importance of job security, safety, and protections, has never been more clear!

Introduction to Labor Studies is one of the foundational classes for the Bridges Center's Labor Studies Minor. The Labor Studies Minor brings together a series of courses on labor (defined broadly to include working people everywhere) in core social-science departments. To learn more about the minor and how you can become one please visit our Labor Studies Minor page. 

Registration for summer quarter at the University of Washington is open now.