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Middle Class on the Ropes


This Think Tank will integrate the demographic, economic, historical, and even cultural dimensions on the content and growth of inequality in the United States. The course will explore the consequences of income inequality, how it affects not only the bottom line for individuals and families, but also their engagement in politics and other social processes. Students, of course, are directly affected with respect to their own economic prospects and their growing debt burden. Finally, the seriousness of income inequality today begs for solutions. This Think Tank will utilize an inter-disciplinary approach, analyze the most current data, explore policy implications as well as possible solutions to this urgent social problem.

Middle Class on the Ropes Final Report

Click here to view a condensed presentation.

Did you miss the community presentation? Click here to view the panel discussion featuring class member Jess Esplin; Bob Huefner, University of Utah Emeritus Professor; Rick Foster, LDS Humanitarian Services; Sonya Martinez, Director-Neighborworks;and Tom Goldsmith, Unitarian Minister.


Norm Waitzman, Ph.D., Economics
Dr. Waitzman received his BA from Swarthmore College, his PhD in economics from American University and completed AHCPR and Pew post-doctoral fellowships in health services research at UC-Berkeley and UCSF while taking a leave from his faculty position at the University of Utah (U) in the early 1990s.

Waitzman is a professor of economics at the U, where he also co-directs the Health, Society and Policy undergraduate program. His published work is rich, ranging from the areas of cost of illness and cost-effectiveness evaluation to the social determinants of health to the analysis of innovations in health care delivery. Nearly all of his work has direct policy implications and has been widely cited in scholarly outlets as well as in the broader health policy arena.

Julie Stewart, Ph.D., Sociology
Julie Stewart is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Utah. She earned her PhD at New York University in 2006. Dr. Stewart is committed to high-quality teaching and has won numerous teaching awards, including the Alpha Kappa Delta Professor of the Year award in 2009 and 2012 and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Junior Superior Teaching Award in 2012. Stewart’s research broadly falls into three theoretical fields: social movements, migration and development. What unites them is a thematic focus on displacement – both voluntary and forced. Her research seeks to better understand how people re-build community, engage in the political process and strive for upward mobility after displacement. Her work on Guatemalan refugees and Mexican immigrants has been published in such journals as Mobilization, Qualitative Sociology, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Humanity and Society, International Migration, Sociological Forum and the Journal of World-Systems Research. Dr. Stewart’s research has been funded by grants provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the John D. Rockefeller Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Center for Border Security and Immigration.

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