Fall, 2021 Sociology Classes

Sociology Core and Elective Courses

We hope to see you in a sociology course soon!


SOC 201 Introduction to Sociology-SB  (This course is offered every fall, spring, and summer.)
This course is designed to familiarize students with the sociological perspective of society, introducing them to the study of human societies, how societies are organized and changed – and the implications of social organization on everyday life. The course will cover basic concepts and theories used in sociology, discuss how sociologists conduct research, and examine several social institutions (e.g., economics, education, politics, media, etc.) and social issues (e.g., poverty, racial/ethnic conflict, environment, etc.).  The overall objectives of the course are to understand sociological perspectives, foster critical thinking, analyze social phenomena using sociological approaches and concepts, and to gain an increased understanding of modern U.S. society.

SOC 202 Social Problems-SBD1  (This course is offered every fall, spring, and summer.)
This course focuses on the major threats to social cohesion and order in society and how such social problems affect human behavior.  Generally, when individuals have problems, they contextualize them in highly personal terms; their perspective is guided primarily by their immediate situation and personal circumstances.  However, there are socially structured contexts out of which individuals emerge and in which social problems are created, sustained, and/or changed–and, thus, impact human behavior.  The purpose of the course is to expand the student’s understanding of current social problems in the U.S., an examination guided by the “sociological imagination,” which assumes individuals are products of their social environments, and requires the adoption of a critical stance toward all social forms.

SOC 210 Race in the U.S.-SBD1  (This course is offered every fall and spring.)
This course examines race as a social construction and surveys the sociological meanings and practices of race and the intertwined, and enduring, social, political, and historical forces that shape and maintain elaborate forms of racism(s) in the U.S.  In that process, the course will include topics, such as theories of racism and white supremacy, forms and implications of cross-racial dialogue; and the intersections between race, ethnicity, and feminism; racialization of crime; the entangled relationship among race, citizenship, and immigration practices; forms of resistance historically undertaken in the face of racial oppression, etc.  Overall, students will learn to recognize, and begin to engage, the various social foundations of race and racial thinking, and especially the way race is made, embedded, and reproduced through interactions among social institutions, individuals, and ideologies.

SOC 301 Social Statistics  (This course is offered every fall, spring, and summer.)
This course introduces students to statistical concepts used in the social sciences (e.g., descriptive statistics, probability, sampling, hypothesis testing, estimation, regression and correlation, categorical data analysis, and statistical control) and focuses on the role that quantitative analysis plays in developing and testing knowledge, including designing and carrying out research, how to apply various statistical procedures for analyzing data, how to evaluate research and argumentation to assess validity of knowledge claims, and ways to present data.  Students will learn to use basic statistics to understand relationships and how individuals fit into their social environment(s) by using quantitative data to answer social science questions, such as understanding tables or figures often found in academic journals or the statistics commonly reported in professional and popular media sources, the logic of statistical inference, and the limitations of conclusions drawn from the statistical analysis of data.

SOC 303 Research Methods-WR  (This course is offered every fall, spring, and summer.)
Social science research contains a systematic approach to analyzing the social world with various approaches and techniques. As important as these approaches and techniques are for developing scholars to understand, it is also pertinent that they can understand the limits and critiques of such approaches and techniques used for research.  This course will introduce students to the general approach of social science research, while providing a foundation to understand different approaches to conducting research and introduce students to the research methods that sociologists use to empirically investigate the social world.  

SOC 320 Social Theory-WR  (This course is offered every fall, spring, and summer.)
Sociological theory is a guide to how to go about studying social life and making sense of observations and events in social life. Sociological theory, therefore, is the infrastructure that holds together ways of asking questions, methods for study, and explanations or interpretations that follow. Sociological theory is what organizes our study of social life; without it, sociology would be a collection of observations and facts, not a science. Sociological theory develops concepts and languages for identifying and describing tendencies, patterns, and laws in social life, which contributes to knowledge but also to efforts at changing or improving social life.  The science of sociology, however, contains multiple competing paradigms, or theoretical frameworks, for ordering knowledge. Therefore, in our discipline we can readily see how “facts” and knowledge are intertwined with theoretical concepts, preferred practices and styles of research, and moral and normative views. In this class, we will examine these competing paradigms, as articulated by major classical theorists, and consider the possibilities these paradigms offer for the kinds of sociology we can do, and the kinds of sociologists we can be.  

SOC 323 Diversity & Inequality (This course is offered every fall, spring, and summer.)
This course uses a sociological perspective to examine diversity and inequality, specifically exploring social class, gender, race/ethnicity, and sexuality in American society.  The study of diversity and inequality includes an examination of the important contributions various social groups have made to society, the barriers to their full participation in society, and the efforts they have made to achieve equality. An appreciation of the nature and consequences of diversity and inequality is essential for understanding social forces and social structures, as well as group processes and organizational dynamics and the way these affect individual life chances.   The course will discuss how race, ethnicity, gender, social class and sexuality are social constructions that affect groups’ life experiences, life chances, and access to power; how diversity and discrimination exist in history and in everyday life; how inequalities are systemic and institutionalized; and strategies and policies for social change.


Several 300- and 400- level sociology electives are offered each fall and spring,
and at least one 300- and one 400- level sociology elective are offered each summer.

SOC 315 Environmental Sociology (expected to be offered in 22-23)
This course will take students through a critical analysis of the interactions between society and the environment, using sociological theoretical frames to explore environmental issues and including theories of political economy, policy development, environmental justice, social construction of the environment, cultural processes, social movement, globalization, sociology of knowledge and science, and social change.  (For more information, .)

SOC 325 Human Sexuality (offered Fall, 2021:  TR 9:30-10:45 and online)
The sociology of human sexuality is examined from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Topics covered in the course include the social and psychological nature of human sexual response, atypical sexual practices including bondage and transvestite fetishism, sexual dysfunction, sexual orientation and sexual identity, and the business of sex including pornography, prostitution, and strip clubs. The course also considers sexual response as part of romantic relationships and examines dating, marriage, divorce, and polyamory and other non-traditional forms of relationships. In light of COVID, the class is designed to be taught as a hybrid with in-class attendance available, however, it is also possible to complete the entire course online.  (For more information, .)

SOC 329 Sociology of Families (offered Fall, 2021:  online)
This course examines structural foundations, theoretical explanations, and historical patterns of family formation to understand trends in family form and function in the U.S. We will explore families from a sociological perspective. We will briefly cover the history of the American family, and then the bulk of the course will examine contemporary U.S. families, considering issues of:  dating and “hooking up,” cohabitation, marriage, divorce, parenting in traditional and non-traditional families, work and family issues, and social policies affecting the family.  Throughout the course, we will emphasize how the experience of the family differs according to one’s structural position in society – particularly their gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexuality.  While emphasizing how social forces affect contemporary families, we will also explore how individuals and groups have agency to change their experience of family life.

SOC 334 Sociology of Deviant Behavior (offered Fall, 2021:  online)  This course introduces the student to the definitions, theories, and patterns of deviant behavior and is designed to teach students to think critically about social deviance and to acquire a better understanding of themselves and how they relate to others, social groups, and society at large. (For more information about the on-campus section, TBA; for the online section, TBA.)

SOC 342 Medical Sociology (expected to be offered in 2022)        
This course aims to provide an in-depth overview of the major theories and conceptual frameworks of medical sociology. At its core, medical sociology emphasizes the importance of moving beyond biological and medical understandings of health and illness by highlighting key social factors that influences individuals’ health experiences. This course will cover the interplay of biological, medical and sociological perspectives in addressing inequalities in health and illness by sex/gender/sexuality, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other demographic characteristics. In doing so, we will cover a wide span of the health and illness experience, from examining how the meaning of illness is defined and redefined over time, to assessing how individuals’ interactions with various actors within healthcare systems impact health outcomes. Sample topics we will discuss this semester include: Why are some health-related behaviors labeled as “deviant” while others are not? In what ways can different types of stressors “get under the skin” and make you sick? How are technological innovations affecting the doctor-patient relationship? By the end of the course, students should be able to a) understand key classic and contemporary frameworks in medical sociology, b) to assess how factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status impact health inequalities across the life course, and c) understand the manner in which an individuals’ health and illness experience is shaped by their interactions with social and healthcare systems.  (For more information, .)

SOC 350 Special Topics: Welfare Moms & Needy Poor (offered Fall, 2021:  TR 11-12:15 remote, and online)
This course focuses on social welfare policy in the United States.  It traces the development of and social attitudes toward major U.S. social welfare programs for the poor, the elderly, families, and other vulnerable and marginalized groups.  We will examine both theoretical and practical issues, including the values and beliefs that have influenced public policy.  We will examine a range of social welfare policies in the US that address specific social problems, and examine both the strengths and weaknesses of the programs in light of addressing structural inequalities including those related to race, ethnicity, gender, and SES.  (For more information, contact Dr. Debbie Potter.)

SOC 405 Voluntarism (offered Fall, 2021:  TR 11-12:15)
(For more information, .)

SOC 442/WGST 442 Sociology of Disabilities (offered Fall, 2021:  online)
This course examines the ways in which disability is socially defined, experienced, and addressed by policy.  Incorporating theories from sociology, disability studies, and women's studies, this course adopts an intersectional perspective and explores disability through the lens of gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. Topics will include: concepts of disability (including stereotypes); the history of disability in contemporary US culture; the medical vs. social model of disability; chronic illness and disability; media and disability; disability politics; the disability rights movement(s); and socio-legal institutional and policy responses to disability.  (For more information, contact Dr. Debbie Potter.)

SOC 450 Special Topics:  Immigrants and Identity (offered Fall, 2021:  online)
America is a nation of immigrants; colonists, indentured servants, slaves, undocumented workers, those fleeing their home countries, and other arrivals have entered the U.S. for centuries. U.S. history involving intersecting forms of oppression has affected public notions of immigrant identities and citizenship.  This course explores the complex links between racial, ethnic, and citizenship statuses and identity formation and negotiation. We will begin with broader questions of membership, belonging, and citizenship and then discuss sociological work on the creation and negotiation of racial, ethnic, and citizenship boundaries, as well as the influence of U.S. policies, institutional practices, and public discourse in these processes. Students will engage with social and historical factors affecting immigrant identities today and the diverse responses of immigrants and organizations through their own claims-making and identity negotiations.  (For more information, contact .)

SOC 450 Special Topics:  Sociology of Food (offered Fall, 2021:  online)
Food plays a critical role in our lives, affecting us not just physiologically, but also socially, and what we eat and the way we eat it offers insight into who we are (e.g., our social identities as members of social classes, ethnic groups, gender groups, religions, etc.).  The sociology of food examines food as part of our social life and how food consumption and interests in particular foods shape – and are shaped by – social institutions and organizations, e.g., our families, the media, religion, education, etc.  Food can also play con play controversial and even confusing roles in our lives, and we will explore this and other topics related to the social significance of food and how food is socially constructed.  (For more information, contact Dr. Jonetta Weber.)

SOC 456 Gender and Work (offered Fall, 2021:  online)
This course explores paid and unpaid work and gender from a sociological perspective. It begins with theoretical frameworks: gender as a social structure that operates on the individual, interactional and institutional levels; and an intersectionality perspective, which explores the intersections of gender with race/ethnicity, social class, sexuality, and nationality.  It then focuses on U.S. women and men, but will briefly explore social policies in different nations. Throughout the course, the class will approach the study of work from sociological and feminist perspectives – noting how social structures shape individuals’ experiences of paid and unpaid work – but also stress human agency, the dynamic nature of work, and social change.  (For more information, .)