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Course Descriptions

Sociology Course Listings - Spring 2011

SOCI 101S 01&02&03 Introduction to Sociology
4 Credits
Rowell, Katherine

Pre-requisites: None
This course examines the cultural and structural patterns of human behavior. The content of this course focuses upon norms, social interaction, social organization, and social change. This course pays special attention to the characteristics of social institutions and how they shape human conduct.

SOCI 110C/S 01&02&03 Cultural Anthropology
4 Credits
Hammar, Lawrence

Pre-requisites : None
There is a heavy East Asia focus to this course to accommodate the needs and interests of East Asian Studies majors. The course will introduce you to cultural anthropology, which is one of the four sub-fields of Anthropology with a capital A. The other three are linguistic anthropology (the study of the origins, evolution, and uses of speech and language); archaeology (the study of the material remains of human cultures); and physical anthropology (the study of human origins, of evolution and of our relationships to non-human primates).

The course will address human evolution, the doctrines of cultural relativity and ethnocentrism, aspects of social life such as kinship and social structure, the organization of subsistence strategies, the many meanings and aspects of gender and sexuality, and certainly globalization and social change. This course will lead you to question things, practices, attitudes and behaviors you’ve not likely examined and open your eyes to things going on around you about which you should know. The middle of the course will focus on HIV and AIDS in both East Asian and Melanesian countries and cultures.

SOCI 201 Urban Worlds: India, Brazil and South Africa
4 Credits
De Wet, Thea

Pre-requisites: None
Just over half of the world’s population currently lives in cities and most people will do so by 2050. Urban populations in Asia and Africa will double over the next 25 years, and by 2030, 80% of the world’s towns and cities will be in the developing world. The scale and rate of urban growth, particularly in the developing world, is staggering. For example, Delhi and Mumbai, in India, and São Paulo in Brazil, currently have over 20 million inhabitants each and all three are still growing. In South Africa, the Gauteng city-region, which includes Johannesburg, is expected to grow to 14 million inhabitants by 2015. Cities are not only increasing in size, but also in complexity—varying in forms, structures and functions. This course is a comparative study of the worlds that urban dwellers in India, Brazil and South Africa inhabit. We will specifically focus on Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg: their histories, growth and futures; race/caste and inequalities; migrants and xenophobia; livelihoods and survival strategies; networks, social relations and the role of kinship and family; everyday life and urban dangers; as well as what doing fieldwork in cities might entail.

SOCI 201C 01 War, Identity & Justice: Lessons from Bosnia
4 Credits
Doubt, Keith

Pre-requisites: None
What is the contemporary character of war and its destructive impact on societies? How does social violence confront and ultimately transform social identities at both the individual and the collective level? What is justice and its necessity to social order? Drawing upon sociology, documentaries, and political theory, this course studies war crimes, the construction of identity in multi-ethnic societies, the political character of nationalism, the social context of terrorism, and the idea of justice in our modern era. First, from the study of Bosnia, the course develops a sociology of war, a psychology of identity, and a philosophy of justice. Then, the course applies this set of concepts to the modern wars in Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, and the Middle East. The objective is develop a perspective on social violence at the collective level that is comparative and historical, one that is objective as well as moral, humanistic as well as empirical.

SOCI 250S 01&02 Sociology of Deviance
4 Credits
Norris, Michael

Pre-requisites: None
Sex, violence, insanity, fear and loathing! This course focuses on public perceptions and responses to behavior that is considered a violation of societal rules. Sociological theory, research, and case examples will be employed to help the student understand the causes and consequences of a variety of behaviors labeled as deviant. The emphasis will be on examining the patterns of interaction within which deviant behavior emerges, the impact of certain types of deviance on others, as well as attempts to prevent or reduce these behaviors by agents of social control. Of paramount concern will be our effort to understand the meaning of deviant behavior from the perspective of both the deviant actors and the audience that expresses disapproval.

SOCI 270S Sociology of Minority Groups
4 Credits
Nibert, David

Pre-requisites: None
Since humanity developed the capacity to produce an economic surplus, countless masses of earthlings have been oppressed, and many have had their labor appropriated, by relatively small groups of privileged humans. This course will examine the historical and contemporary causes for the continued oppression of entire groups, including various ethnic groups, women, the impoverished and other species of animals.  Special attention will be given to the roots of oppression with an in depth look at the entanglement of oppression of humans and other animals. This analysis will be woven into an examination of the treatment of devalued humans in the United States. The course will include class discussions, videotape presentations, and assignments outside of class. Students are expected to respond actively to assigned readings by discussing key ideas and by using examples to support or question these ideas.

SOCI 277 C/R 1W Islam and Islamic Societies
4 Credits
Pankhurst, Jerry

Pre-requisites: None
This course will provide a broad introduction to the religion of Islam, accompanied by an examination of the connections between Islam and the varied life of Muslim societies and of Muslim minority communities in non-Muslim societies. Given the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the West’s military reprisals and subsequent reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the ongoing struggle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the devastation of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean basin, and other problem situations, knowledge of these issues has become of highest priority. We will seek to understand the complex sources of conflict in areas in which Islam is implicated in some way; we will also try to become acquainted with the rich cultural life of Muslims. We will consider Muslim societies all over the world, but, in support of the minor in Africana Studies, we will give a special emphasis to Islam in Africa and to African American Islam.

Course format: lecture/seminar, with much group discussion. Graded Requirements: A variety of writing exercises throughout the term, oral presentations, examinations and a term project. This course is Writing Intensive (W) and can be taken for either “C” or “R” credit in General Education. Prerequisite: None.

SOCI 280S 01&02 Animals and Society
4 Credits
Nibert, David

Pre-requisites: None
Increasingly, social scientists are focusing on the ethical, environmental and social consequences of human treatment of other animals. This course will examine how human societies have viewed and treated other animals and how the interactions and the structure of the relationship between humans and other animals affect both those animals and human social organization. For example, some scholars argue that cultural practices that define and use nonhuman animals as food contribute significantly to various forms of environmental devastation. Human health research indicates that high rates of heart disease and cancer in many cultures can be attributed to the consumption of animals. Others suggest that human perception and treatment of nonhuman animals are related in significant ways to such enduring problems as racism, sexism and violence against vulnerable groups of people. This course will examine the causes of human exploitation of other animals and the issues that frame the animal rights debate.

SOCI 292S 01 Population Geography
4 Credits
Medvedkov, Olga

Pre-requisites: None
Cross-listed as GEOG292; you may enroll in either SOCI 292 or GEOG 292.
From now until the middle of the 21st century, in only fifty years, the world's population will increase by 50% from 6 billion at the end of 1999 to close to 9 billion in 2050. October 12, 1999 has been chosen as the official date marking the advent of a planet with 6 billion inhabitants. On October 5, 2005, the total population of the World had reached 6,470,751,717; an increase by almost half a billion in just six years. Between 1995 and 2005, the growth rate was 78 million people per year, the equivalent of a new Egypt added every year. In 2050, Africa and Asia will be home to 20 and 60% of the world's population respectively.  Developed nations will have twice as many elderly people as youth and the population of many in between will be in decline. The world's productive land is a constantly changing resource. Climatic variations, natural disasters, and human intervention are constantly at work changing the boundaries of productive land. Arable land covers 3% of the world's surface. Despite the fact that this land is continually being lost to urbanization, the total area under cultivation is rising because of deforestation.
During this course we would look at demographic data, population distribution and composition, theories of population growth and change. We will focus on basic demographic processes, as mortality, fertility, and migration. This class will be helpful in understanding the demographic processes in different cultural, social, and political settings.

SOCI 301 African American Social Philosophy
4 Credits
Bailey, Julius

Pre-requisites: One prior course in Philosophy or permission of instructor
This course examines a select set of issues in the philosophical thinking of African-American philosophers such as race and racism, separation and assimilation, violence, liberation, social justice, and race and gender.
Course Objectives: is designed to provide students with an engagement with African American Scholars who:   

  • deeply and critically engage in issues concerning the state, conditions and people of black America or African-America;
  • describe the effects on human development and human dignity of a society’s organization of political, social, and economic institutions;
  • demonstrate how relationships among social groups (such as social classes, races, genders, religions, and communities) can inhibit or enhance opportunities for social justice;
  • analyze how social groups (such as social classes, races, genders, religions, and communities) work both within and against social institutions to promote social justice;
  • compare how different African American Philosophers and other Theorists have responded to conditions of social, economic and political injustice;
  • discuss the relationship between individual autonomy and responsibility to others as it relates to social justice.
  • Course Evaluation: There will be 5 (take home) exams and 1 In-class exam. Attendance is also required and calculated

    SOCI 301 01 East Asian Anthropology
    4 Credits
    Hammar, Lawrence

    Pre-requisities: None
    Social, cultural, political and economic change in the countries and cultures of East Asia has consumed the interest of academic researchers for many decades. They have asked what are the main drivers of change in the region? How best are Westerners to understand those changes? How do these changes affect local populations (and us, here in the West)? What is the likely near future of East Asian countries and cultures? To what degree do these changes reflect longer-term continuity? The course will survey topics and themes specific to Japan, the Himalayas, Tibet, Korea, China, Mongolia and Taiwan, including descriptions and analyses of East Asian cultures such as the Na, the Tibetan nomadic pastoralists, the throat-singers of Tuva, and the Japanese, Korean and Chinese “Comfort Women” prostituted to the Japanese Imperial Forces prior to and during World War II. We will address the early peopling of East Asia; kinship and social structure; the organization of subsistence strategies; gender and sexuality; and globalization and social change. There will be an especial focus on HIV and AIDS and on various labor forms of prostitution.

    SOCI 301 Health and Illness: Biocultural Perspectives
    4 Credits
    De Wet, Thea

    Pre-requisites: None 
    The course is an introduction to medical anthropology. We will take a biocultural perspective and look at health and illness as the result of the interaction between sociocultural, environmental and biological phenomena. A key question in the course is: How do we explain variation in health and illness between and within populations across time and space? What are the sources of this variation? To answer this we will integrate biological and evolutionary information with historical, socio-economic and cultural material. The course takes a cross-cultural approach and will use ethnographic examples from around the world. Topics that will be covered include: biocultural interactions between humans and pathogens; origins of infectious disease; healers and healing systems; stress, social inequality and race; culture-bound syndromes; the cultural construction of aging; falling sperm count; eating disorders; children and pesticides; and the globalization of infections. The course is relevant to students in both the health and social sciences.

    SOCI 307 1Z (Z=M + W) Research Methods
    5 Credits
    Doubt, Keith and
    Hammar, Lawrence

    Pre-requisites: SOCI 101S or SOCI 110C/S and minimum math placement 23 and
    a stats class. Note: You are encouraged to take statistics concurrently with SOCI 307.
    Professor Doubt, MWF 12:40 to 1:40

    This course will introduce students to the design and implementation of various social science research methods. The course examines every phase of the research process including the development of testable research questions, integration of theory into the empirical process, choosing effective methods for study, and various techniques for collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and reporting data. Students will construct and implement research designs using various quantitative and qualitative methods, primarily in preparation for the completion of their independent senior thesis project.

    Lab, Professor Hammar, W 1:50 to 2:50
    During this "Wednesday Lab" component students will focus heavily on the theory and practice of specifically qualitative, ethnographic methods. Students will be exposed to and then themselves practice focus group interviewing, concept-mapping, diary-keeping, and field note-writing. Students will explore theoretical issues involving self and subjectivity, ethics, and application.

    SOCI 340R 1W Sociology of Religion
    4 Credits
    Pankhurst, Jerry

    Pre-requisites: One prior course in Sociology
    Religion exists in two realms, the spiritual (or supernatural) and the human (or mundane). As social scientists, we do not presume to analyze the supernatural realm, but we try to apply our methods and perspectives to understand the human, social side of religion.

    Investigation of the social side of religion involves examining the organization of religious groups, their cultural settings, their political and economic correlates, and their capabilities as agents of social change. In general, we examine the interrelations between religion and other institutions of society.

    In addition, the social scientific study of religion focuses attention upon the mechanisms by which particular religious groups seek to stimulate and sustain the religious impulse and to channel it into the favored mode of expression. Sociologists of religion are interested in how religion contributes to the values of culture and assists in their creation, invigoration, alteration, and demise. We ask both: how does religion influence society? and how does society influence religion?

    Course requirements include field visits to local religious institutions, oral presentations, several short papers and three examinations. This course is writing intensive.

    SOCI 390C 1W Russian and Central Eurasian Societies and Cultures
    4 Credits
    Pankhurst, Jerry

    Pre-requisites: 3 Credit hours in SOCI or RCEP major or minor
    An exploration of sociological issues in Russia and Central Eurasia.  Course focus (SP11):  Religion and Politics in the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet states from the Baltics through Russia to the Muslim-dominated Central Asian societies.  Special attention will be given to the relationship between the state institutions, Russian Orthodoxy and Islam.  (Brief introductions to the general characteristics of Orthodoxy and Islam will be part of the course.  Students with special interests in other faiths in post-Soviet Eurasia [Catholicism, Lutheranism, Protestantism, Buddhism, etc.] will have the option to investigate their situations in the term project.) 

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