Robert Reich gives public access to popular ‘Wealth and Poverty’ course on Facebook

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Council of Cal Deans, consisting of Peter Schrag, Robert Reich, and Angela Glover Blackwell, lead the Campus Forum on the Future of Public Universities to speak on the topic of social inequality and social opportunity. Location: Pauley Ballroom.

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Robert Reich, a campus professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and former U.S. secretary of labor, will now be allowing the public to access to his “Wealth and Poverty” class, one of the most sought-after courses on campus, through Facebook.

Through Reich’s Facebook page, members of the public will be able to watch clips from certain key lectures posted throughout the semester. “Wealth and Poverty” is a public policy course centered around social and economic inequality in the U.S. and is is typically offered in the spring semester.

The first video in the series was posted on Facebook on Jan. 23, and as of press time, it has garnered 9,700 shares and 720,000 views. In the clip, Reich discussed the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States and elements of social change while addressing both his audience of students and online viewers.

“(Public policy) doesn’t have any capacity to actually be implemented,” Reich said in the video. “But when you add the emotional outrage — sadness, anger, everything else — then you get the possibility for social change.”

In 2017, the campus restricted public access to educational content published through YouTube because of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ. The DOJ concluded that the video captions did not meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to campus spokesperson Roqua Montez, university policy dictates that faculty own the copyright to their own copyrighted work. Thus, Reich has publishing rights and can use any social media platform he chooses to post clips from his lectures.

Campus junior transfer Tiffany Marquez, who is currently enrolled in the course, said she was at first intimidated by the volume of students but was also excited to be in such a popular class. Marquez added that for the majority of the class, the camera crew is filming from the back of the lecture hall, but the crew moves to the front towards the end of the class. She said that Reich’s personality helped her feel comfortable despite the class size and the presence of cameras.

“He is so humble about everything,” Marquez said. “You don’t feel like you’re in front of someone who’s so well-known. He feels like every other professor.”

Elizabeth Madrigal, a campus junior transfer, said she enjoys the course because Reich “doesn’t sugar-coat anything.” According to Madrigal, if a student does not wish to be filmed, they can tell the camera crew and they will not be included in the video.

Madrigal added that she appreciated how Reich posted his lecture publicly, because now the knowledge shared in the course can reach a broader audience. As a person coming from a low-income background, Madrigal said that this video will be beneficial to many students.

“For me, it’s a good thing. The background — a low-income background — that I come from, I feel like it’s really important in terms of accessibility especially students … who don’t have the opportunity to hear this,” Madrigal said.

Contact Francesca Munsayac at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @fcfm_dc.