SOCI 101: INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

This course introduces students to sociology: “the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior”[1].  It is primarily concerned with providing students with a broad understanding of sociology, with a particular emphasis on American society; this class also serves as a gateway, pointing students toward additional courses that provide greater depth.

 

We begin by outlining the boundaries of sociology: defining its terrain, understanding the sociological imagination, and identifying its central research methods.  We move on to exploring basic social processes: the culture that binds us together, the socialization processes that teach us how to be group members, the social structures that indicate how we fit into the group, the ways we interact with others, and how we deviate from society’s expectations.  Next, we study inequality in society: how categories such as social class, gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity are created and re-created by society, and how these designations impact our life experiences.  We then turn our attention to some of the major social institutions that shape our lives, such as families and governments.  Finally, we engage with the process of social change, detailing how the social landscape shifts, and how it stays the same.

 

[1] American Sociological Association.2009. 21st Century Careers with an Undergraduate Degree in Sociology. Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association. Pg. 5

CORE 170S: MEDIA EFFECTS

This course uses a social scientific approach to examine the effects of media exposure on audience members. As a Core Scientific Perspectives course, this class emphasizes: a) the processes of scientific analysis, verification, and explanation, and b) the relevance of science for understanding social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. 

 

We begin by sketching the broadest contours of the media landscape, assessing the scope of media consumption in the contemporary United States and developing an understanding of how the media industry operates.  We move on to familiarizing ourselves with the fundamentals of scientific inquiry, focusing on the purpose of scientific research, core concepts of the scientific endeavor, and social science methodologies.  Next, we consider the effects of various types of media on individuals and society, exploring advertising, violence, news, group portrayals, and educational content.  We then turn to medium effects, investigating how media channels such as print, radio, and the Internet shape individuals and society.  Finally, we focus on solidifying media literacy, a set of skills that are essential to taking control of media effects.

 

SOCI/FMST 375: MEDIA AND POLITICS

This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine the role that the media plays in American politics. As a Research Intensive course, students will conduct and present original research projects intended for public consumption.

 

We begin with the broad strokes of the relationship between the press and politics, examining the functions of the press in a democracy, its effects on the citizenry, and the contemporary marketplace for news.  We move on to familiarizing ourselves with how journalists report the news, studying the socially constructed nature of the news, and the values and routines that shape its creation. Next, we focus how politicians create the news, investigating how politicians compete in mediated electoral campaigns, and the struggles they face of governing through the news and while at the same time being governed by the news.  Then, we explore the role infotainment and satire play in politics, examining media formats including political cartoons, Saturday Night Live, and The Daily Show.  Finally, we conclude with a discussion about the future, focusing on how new media forms will alter the relationship between the media and politics, and envisioning new directions for the press. 

SOCI/ALST 330: BLACK COMMUNITIES

SOCI/ALST 321: BLACK COMMUNITIES

This course uses a social scientific approach to examine the circumstances and dynamics characterizing black communities in the contemporary United States, with a particular focus on the African American experience.

 

We begin by sketching the broadest contours of the sociology of the black community, examining how sociologists use the term “race” and identifying a series of significant social problems facing the black community.  We move on to familiarizing ourselves with the operation of one of the major institutions shaping community life, the family.  Next, we consider the importance of social class, comparing and contrasting the experiences of lower-, middle-, and upper-class community members.  We then turn our attention to dimensions of inequality that distinguish blacks from other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.: wealth, housing, education, employment, health, and colorism.  We conclude by considering the future of black communities, assessing strategies for bringing about social change.   

 

SOCI/ALST 330: RACE AND CRIME

This course uses a social scientific approach to examine the circumstances and dynamics characterizing the intersection of race and crime in the contemporary United States, with a particular focus on the African American experience.

 

We begin by sketching the nature of mass incarceration in the contemporary United States, focusing on the size of the carceral apparatus and how its gaze has sharply focused on people of color, particularly those from low-income, urban communities.   We move on to familiarizing ourselves with the causal forces contributing to this state of affairs, focusing on political actions that gave rise to the current conditions, the mechanisms by which the system operates, and the role that racial attitudes play in the process.  Next, we consider the consequences of mass incarceration, addressing the impact that incarceration has on the communities that prisoners leave behind, detailing the legitimacy crisis that the system faces in the eyes of many minority community members, and teasing out the implications of this system for stereotyping and race bias in broader society.  Finally, we engage with the process of social change, exploring new directions for the future of race and crime in America.

SOCI 320: SOCIAL DEVIANCE

This course uses a social scientific approach to examine the circumstances and dynamics characterizing black communities in the contemporary United States, with a particular focus on the African American experience.

 

We begin by sketching the broadest contours of the sociology of the black community, examining how sociologists use the term “race” and identifying a series of significant social problems facing the black community.  We move on to familiarizing ourselves with the operation of one of the major institutions shaping community life, the family.  Next, we consider the importance of social class, comparing and contrasting the experiences of lower-, middle-, and upper-class community members.  We then turn our attention to dimensions of inequality that distinguish blacks from other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.: wealth, housing, education, employment, health, and colorism.  We conclude by considering the future of black communities, assessing strategies for bringing about social change.   

© 2019 by Alicia Simmons. 

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