In this paper, I seek to answer the question: can the use of popular music improve students’ understanding of the need for social programs and the significance of social, economical, and political factors that influence policymaking and implementation. To explore this, I had students in undergraduate human services courses listen to popular music that focuses on major social issues and themes, including poverty, food security, homelessness, education, criminal justice, child welfare, immigration, and health care.
Throughout the semester students relied on the stories woven together through the lyrics of these songs to drive our discussions and activities. The undergraduate students reflected and responded to the songs in the form of weekly writing assignments. These writing assignments provide real insight into the manner in which the students were able to grasp an understanding of these social issues and public policies in reference to the music that they listened to each week.
The research for this project will involve various writing assignments that students submitted throughout the semester(s).