US Census, Data, and Democracy: Understanding Numbers with Social Sciences

July 8 – 19, 2024
1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Philosophy and Society
Nooshin Sadegh-Samimi

Census is a count, gathering numbers; the more categories you have, the more numbers you get. It is also an important part of the structure of representative democracy in the United States, as seats in the United States House of Representatives are allocated every ten years based on census results. In this course, we learn about how census data is made and used, how it impacts our lives, and the kinds of power we give to its numbers. Using a range of examples of calculation, including testing, college rankings, and statistics about birth, mortality, and migration trends, citizens, race, and sexuality produced through census records, this class will examine what encourages people in government institutions to produce numbers, what causes them to spread, how they intervene in the worlds they measure, and how we think about ourselves and others differently as a result.