Photo by 401(K) 2013 via
Photo by 401(K) 2013 via

We want to take a moment to alert you to a fantastic new teaching tool: Recession Trends.  As the website’s “about us” explains, “The Recession Trends initiative, a collaboration between the Russell Sage Foundation and the Center on Poverty and Inequality, is dedicated to monitoring the social and economic fallout of the ongoing downturn.”

There are many ways you could use this informative website in the classroom.  For example, you could ask students to form a research question about the recession (e.g., Did crime rates rise during the recession?) and use the website to help answer it.  Specifically, the website includes a graphing utility with data on each of the 16 domains covered regarding the recession (housing, poverty, immigration, crime, health, etc.).  The graphing utility is found here, and the domains are listed on the right-hand side.  Note that students likely would need a few minutes to explore the domains before picking a research question that could be answered using the website.

This could also be paired with the Office Hours podcast with David Grusky, one of the creators of the website.  A teaching activity to accompany the podcast, which was posted earlier this year, is below.

In this episode of Office Hours, TSP’s Sarah Shannon speaks with Stanford University Sociology Professor David Grusky about the social and economic effects of the recession.  This entire podcast could be assigned to students, though you could also considering assigning part of it (the first 20 minutes, for example).

Grusky and Shannon cover many topics in this 50-minute conversation, so there are many avenues for discussion.  Here are a few basic questions that cover some of the main points.

1)   How does the most recent recession differ from past recessions?  In other words, what makes it a “great” recession?

2)   How does the recession affect inequality in the United States?

3)   What are some of the responses to the recession, and how do they differ from responses to the Great Depression?

4)   Why does Grusky see a danger in the focus on tax-based solutions to the current economic problems?

5)   Grusky and Shannon speak specifically about college students several times throughout the podcast?  How is the recession impacting students, and what is the bottleneck that they mention?