'The City of White Supremacy': U of Minnesota offers courses on how public policy seeks to 'criminalize' race, gender, and sexuality

University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs offers courses on how urban planning, policing, and policymaking target racial and sexual minorities

Courses include 'The City of White Supremacy,' 'Mass Incarceration, Citizenship & the Criminal Legal System,' and 'US Policy and the Policing of Sexuality.'

The University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs released its course descriptions for the Fall 2023 semester, including several on the “policing” of gender and sexuality and one called “The City of White Supremacy.”

The title of the course is “meant to signal the objective of scrutinizing how systems of white supremacy have shaped the American city and how the American city functions in ways that reproduce and reinforce white supremacy,” the course description says.

[RELATED: Bates College mandates ‘Race, Power, Privilege and Colonialism’ curriculum]

In an email to Campus Reform, Professor Edward Goetz said that the course is directed at urban planning students. “[W]e offer it because it helps to round out students’ understanding of how US cities have come to look the way they do and how they currently function,” Goetz wrote.

How public policy is used to target minorities is a central theme in several courses the school is offering this fall. “Mass Incarceration, Citizenship & the Criminal Legal System” examines “the historical context of U.S. democracy” and the “implications” of “targeted identities (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, etc.).”

The description notes that “[i]dentity-based social hierarchy has informed the politics and policies of criminality, policing, and public safety, which has resulted in varying degrees of punishment, diminished citizenship rights, and has exacerbated social vulnerability.” 

Those enrolled in the course will also discuss “policies that seek to crimininalize identity,” naming BLM activists and protests, anti-drag and trans bills, and denial of gender-affirming care as examples.

[RELATED: California school revises 10 courses to include more anti-racism]

Students of “US Policy and the Policing of Sexuality” will “explore the range of social control tactics that limit the economic, political, and social mobility of individuals who hold Queer and trans gender identities,” the course description reads. The policing of sexuality refers to “law enforcement, government organizations, and public policy.”

The course will focus particularly on how public policy interacts with intersectionality. Using this lens, “students will better understand how individuals with multiple marginalized identities (i.e. Black trans women) navigate multiple systems of oppression and how these experiences differ from those with single marginalized identities (i.e. white trans men).” “[P]olicy solutions for reparative justice and equity,” is something that students will also consider.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is a public policy and planning school.

Campus Reform contacted the professors of each course listed in this article, as well as the University of Minnesota, for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.