By Lucas Hubbard

October 8, 2020

The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University is excited to announce the approval of its new program of study: a minor in Inequality Studies.

The six-course minor, a joint collaboration between the Cook Center and the Duke University Department of History, is expected to launch in full this spring. Undergraduates both within and outside the History major will be able to add the minor, which consists of three History electives and three core courses from the Cook Center–two of which will debut in the spring 2021 semester.

Official approval from Trinity College’s Arts and Sciences Council arrived Thursday, September 24. While this is not the first program of its kind across the higher education sphere—notably, Cornell University’s Center for the Study of Inequality offers a program by the same name as Duke’s—the new minor both reflects the increasing importance of Inequality Studies research and epitomizes the growth of the Cook Center since its inception in 2014.

“The new minor is a wonderful step forward for Duke University and an exciting new opportunity for undergraduate students across many areas of study to advance their understanding of social inequality,” says Adam Hollowell, senior research associate at the Cook Center and the director of the minor in Inequality Studies.

Included as a required core course of the minor will be the Global Inequalities Research Initiative, a long-standing Cook Center seminar that develops and promotes undergraduate research and is co-taught by Hollowell and William A. Darity, Jr., the Center’s director and the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke. The other core courses will be launched as a part of the minor: “History of Inequality” and “Methods in Inequality Studies”. These courses will be taught by Darity and Hollowell, as well as Keisha Bentley-Edwards, Associate Director of Research at the Center, and other Cook Center faculty affiliates. “History of Inequality” will familiarize students with the entrenched roots of inequality and its manifestations, while “Methods in Inequality Studies” will teach students to understand how inequality impacts research methods, including quantitative, archival, and qualitative tools for researching social outcomes.

Students will choose their three remaining courses from existing History courses that share thematic overlap with the minor.

In a letter written to the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee in support of the proposed minor, Sumathi Ramaswamy, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of History and International Comparative Studies and History Department Chair, and Malachi H. Hacohen, Director of Undergraduate Studies of the History Department and Professor of History, Political Science, and Religion, noted the “natural and promising” synergy between the Cook Center and the Department of History. The Inequality Studies minor, they wrote, “will enhance the public profile and interdisciplinary character of the History curriculum, while deepening the research engagement and social formation of Duke undergraduates, and potentially also boost enrollments.

“The proposal represents the collaboration across the social sciences and the convergence of academic and public engagement that Duke University presently seeks, and we have high hopes for it.”