Undergraduate Courses

Click Undergrad Catalog for a list of courses approved in the Department of Sociology for the current semester. Below are descriptions for the courses offered Spring 2015. Click either on the course number or instructor name for the course syllabus. 

Special Topics Courses:

Topics in Power, Politics, and Social Justice in Education 
Course Description:  This course will cover an extensive examination of power, politics and social justice. The course will address how neoliberal notions of power, individualism, and choice mediate understandings of and society. In particular, students will be introduced to important economic, social, and political forces that have shaped the purposes and goals of public education in the US. Some of the fundamental themes and issues we will explore this semester include: equality of educational opportunity, privatization, school choice, educational reform policies, the experiences of diverse student communities in school, the teaching profession, and teaching for social justice. We will consider how educational policies and practices have in the past and continue into the present to perpetuate inequalities of social class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, and consequently, how individuals and communities experience education differently. Given the diversity of today’s urban and suburban classrooms, how educators understand and manage these dynamics is essential to address the educational needs and affirm the dignity and value of all students.

Topics in Medical Sociology 
Course Description: The topic for this upper-division undergraduate seminar is health activism. During this semester, we will examine how patient groups and health movements collectively organize to address issues like access to health-care services; disease, personal illness experience, and contested illness; and health inequalities based on social location, including race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will explore questions such as how health social movements arise; how they develop illness identities; how they use those identities to collectively mobilize; and how their actions change how medicine is practiced and medical technologies developed. We will begin our exploration of health social movements by discussing what they are and how we study them. The remainder (and majority) of the semester will then focus on studying four case studies: Black Panther Party, feminist, AIDS, and breast cancer health activism.

Topics in Race, Class, Gender  
Course Description: This class will provide an interdisciplinary approach to the construction of race and racialized experiences. The course will examine how ideas of culture, myths of origin and concepts of otherness are created and sustained in both the public imagination and in social institutions. Readings and discussions include contemporary border crossings and how economic, political, cultural and psychic factors mediate everyday experiences of race, class and gender. We will also cover dynamics of racialization in the US and UK/Ireland, the construction of women’s bodies as sites of hostility, femininity and masculinity in educational settings, and racialized notions of filth, contagion and horror.

Capstone Courses:

Biomedicalizing Bodies 

Course Description: How has biomedicine shaped the way we understand and experience our own and others' bodies? How does an examination of archival sources allow us to explain this process? The purpose of this course is two-fold: 1) students will learn key theories and concepts about the sociological topic of biomedicalizing bodies, and 2) students will learn how to use archival methods. The course is intended for seniors majoring in sociology to gain hands-on research experience 1) developing a research question, 2) designing a based on archival methods, 3) gathering and analyzing data, and 4) writing a research paper on these data and results. By the end of the course, students will have produced a paper that follows sociological journal standards and would be suitable for presentation or publication.

Youth in Trouble with the Law 
Course Description: The Sociology Department Capstone course entails the engagement of all the skills that the major has learned throughout the years of coursework: uncovering and understanding how past material conditions contribute to current social contexts; apprehending social problems through social theories; and selecting research methods appropriate to answering research questions. Goals of this course include (1) Students will use the sociological skills they have gained throughout their Bachelor’s degree, i.e., how to use critical skills to read, write, discuss, use various research methodologies, theorize, and present sociological work; (2) Students will call upon their sociological imagination to make original contributions to, in this course, the sociology of youth in trouble with the law; (3) Students will produce a research project: a writing sample and a poster presentation: both materials useful for applying for jobs or graduate school.

100; 200; 300 level course descriptions 

Course Description: What is a social problem? Who defines social problems? How are social problems constructed and framed? Over the course of this semester, we will answer the aforementioned questions and more as this course will encourage you to apply a sociological imagination to examine a wide range of contemporary issues and problems. Through a sociological perspective, this course will teach you how to think critically about the relationship between individual biographies and larger social structures and institutional arrangements. To help accomplish this goal, this course will use media and popular culture as a lens within which to recognize and understand not only our own social locations but how we are all connected in an increasingly diverse and global world

Course Description: Social statistics is a useful tool for sociologists and other social scientists to describe, analyze, and test empirical evidence about social phenomena and test social theories. The purpose of this course is to give undergraduates a practical introduction to sociological statistical analysis. This course focuses on three general areas: descriptive statistics; principles of statistical inference and causal relation analysis. The primary goals of this course are for you to: develop skills in how to describe data; learn how to make inferences from a sample to the population; learn how to determine and measure the strength of associations between variables. In addition, the course laboratory provides instruction in the use of a statistical software package SPSS. Through out this course, students are encouraged to use statistics as tool to analyze and understand the society and the world.

Course Description: Sexuality is a phenomenon that goes beyond its common perception as something solely biological or a jumping off point for marketing. This course is divided into three parts. In Part I, we will start with history. We will explore how people have thought about sexuality across time, from framing it as purely biological to how it is socially produced to how queer theory burst onto the scene.  In Part II, we will look at how sexuality is omnipresent, in multiple ways, in our everyday life. In Part III, we will consider how sexuality goes hand in hand with politics. We will end with discussing how sexuality is policed and controlled. We will also consider how inequalities surrounding sexualities is linked to other forms of oppression such as race, class and gender. 

Course Description: This is an introductory level course that takes a sociological approach to the study of youth and children. The goals of this course are to understand how life stages are socially constructed and how the lived experiences of youth are influenced by the intersections of varying identities and social locations as well as by social institutions. Finally, the course examines social problems faced by youth at both local and global levels.  

Course Description: Statistics indicate that there are over 50 million so called “Latinos” and “Hispanics” in the United States. According to the 2010 Census, Hispanics/Latinos composed 16.3 % of the U.S. population, making them the largest minority group in the country. Considerable popular and academic debate has developed over the nature of this demographic growth. This class explores these debates, paying attention to the diversity and complexity of this group. This course also explores the history, migration and racial/ethnic experiences of the different groups (Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, etc.) that compose the Hispanic/Latino category. Finally, this course explores how Hispanic/Latinos deal with stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination in the United States in the context of transnationalism, identity building, new destinations, and immigration among others.

Course Description: This course explores how ideas of difference with regard to race/ethnicity, social class, sex and gender, and sexuality are experienced and constructed into systems of inequality. In the course, we will investigate how these systems of inequality are intertwined with power and opportunity as well as how these categories are constructed. We will consider how various institutions contribute to the creation and maintenance of these systems of inequality. We will also explore how these systems are embedded in ideology, in our laws, in our media and culture.

Course Description: This course uses the tools of sociology to examine the multiple interfaces between medicine, health and society.  During the semester, we will explore the ways that society contributes to health and illness, conceptualizes disease, and constructs strategies for prevention and treatment.  We will also examines historical shifts in the prevalence of diseases, cultural movements shaping the experience of illness, social inequalities in health and medical care, authority and ethics in clinical decision making, the organization of health professions, and issues in the financing and allocation of health services.

Course Description: Throughout the course, we will study the dynamics of race and urban life not only in the United States but around the world. We will begin by looking at the racial aspects of industrialization and urbanization in Europe and the US as well as the divisions that marked colonial cities in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The first part of the course will end by looking at the transformations brought about by urban uprisings, deindustrialization, suburbanization, and globalization. The second half of the course will focus on multiple dimensions of the contemporary urban experience. Among the topics to be covered are: neo-liberal globalization, segregation, gentrification, gated communities, informal settlements, policing, sexuality, urban warfare, and urban uprisings. 

Course Description: How does any scientist produce scientific fact? How do we discern between “good” and “bad” science? In this course, we will deal with the general logic of scientific inquiry and develop design, measurement, and analysis techniques through contemporary methods of data collection. We will be exploring how social science is produced through lecture, discussion and hands-on work. We will cover both qualitative and quantitative methods in the social sciences. The University requires that in order to take this course, you must be at least sophomore standing, have taken SOC 201 (statistics), and have taken one other 200-level sociology course. This course is an introduction to research methodology. Its main purpose is to survey the major research designs and techniques that are at the core of social science inquiry.

Course Description: This course provides a basic introduction to key sociological theories. The course is a general overview of sociological theory from its classical tradition to more contemporary theories. Also, this course will explore the contributions of these theories to the discipline of sociology. In this course we are going to wear a theorist hat to understand the world around us. For this we will use news articles, discussion, short videos and activities to make the theories more relevant to our daily lives. This course fulfills the writing in the discipline requirement.