PubPol 475.006: Racial Disparities in Policing: Causes, Consequences, and Correctives

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Fall 2023
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Meet together with OS 460 Racial Disparities in Policing with Professor Nick Camp (previously offered as OS495).

The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has brought renewed public attention to an
enduring social problem in America: racial disparities in policing, and gaps in police-community
trust. Where do these inequities come from? What processes contribute to disparities in the
policing? And what can we do to address them? The overarching goal of this course is to get
?under the hood? of racial inequality in policing through organizational analysis: to identify the
institutional and individual contributors to disparities, so that we can combat them.

One specific aim of this course is to introduce students to theoretical and empirical studies of
disparities in policing. This is a systemic issue; accordingly, we will examine research from
psychology, sociology, legal studies, and organizational behavior to understand how each of
these perspectives shed light on different aspects of race and police-community relations. In
doing so, we will situate this issue to broader theories of organizational theory (discretion,
organizational change) and psychology (implicit bias, procedural justice).

A second goal of this course is to connect this research to social practice. Politicians, community
organizations, law enforcement, and the wider public all agree that change is necessary, but what
that change should look like is up for debate. In the second half of the course, we will examine
the empirical support for interventions aimed at building trust and closing gaps in policing.
Alongside these readings, we will have discussions with stakeholders working on these issues
from a range of positions and perspectives: within law enforcement, community activism, policy
change, and research, to name a few. You will thus leave this course not just with a better
understanding of how we?ve gotten to where we are, but also how you can act on this work as a
student, employee, and citizen.