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Sociology Course Offerings

SOCI 100 Introduction to Sociology (Core: IS)
This course examines the basic nature of human relationships, customs, institutions, social structure and culture. It emphasizes how they affect our beliefs and behavior and how they express our fundamental concerns and values. The course teaches the basic concepts, methods and perspectives of sociology as a social science and it uses them to consider such topics as family life; groups and organizations; racial/ethnic, gender and class inequality; religious and political movements; and social problems. 

SOCI 122 Criminology
Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior. This class surveys classic and contemporary theoretical and empirical scholarship dedicated to understanding the nature and extent of criminal actions, the social organization of efforts to control criminal behavior, and the effectiveness of such efforts.

SOCI 201 Sociology of the Family
This course provides an overview of the family from a sociological perspective. We will work together to challenge and expand our own personal understandings of family. We will explore different stages of family life, including family formation (such as marriage and cohabitation), transition to parenthood, childhood, intergenerational relationships, divorce and remarriage, and inequality within families. As we proceed, we will interrogate diversity in family forms, considering how race, class, gender, and sexuality shape our experiences of family.

SOCI 228 Corrections in American Society
This course focuses on society’s organized response to individuals accused or convicted of criminal offenses. Students in the course study the philosophy, theory and practice of corrections systems and strategies for adults and juveniles; empirical research on the effectiveness of various corrections strategies; and contemporary challenges and debates about corrections practices in the United States.

SOCI 233 Sociology of Education
Do schools matter? This course seriously examines this question by investigating the complex ways in which schools and society interact. To do this, we examine the historical development of schools in America, but our primary focus is a close investigation of the ways in which schools are embedded in racial, economic, social and geographic contexts. We also turn our attention to how teachers, parents and students interact within the classroom. Our primary goal is to understand when and how schools contribute to inequality and stratification, and how public policy and culture influences when and how schools matter.

SOCI 237 Children and Childhood in American Society
This course explores two interrelated topics: the social construction of childhood and the everyday lives of children. Taking a new sociology of childhood approach, the course pays attention to culture, structure and agency in understanding children’s lives and the diversity of experiences among children living in the United States. Students in this course study continuity and change in ideas about children and childhood over the course of U.S. history; classic and current sociological theory about childhood and children; research methods for studying children; and empirical studies of children’s lives, past and present.

SOCI 238 Human Behavior in the Social Environment
This course examines theories and knowledge of human biological, sociological, cultural, psychological and spiritual development across the lifespan. Individual, family, group, organizational and community social systems are explored to assess the ways these social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being.

SOCI 239 Social-Welfare Policy and Services
The history and current state of social welfare policy and services is the major focus of this course. Various frameworks and methods used by policy scholars to analyze social welfare policy are introduced and applied. Past and present examples of social welfare policy at federal, state, county, city and agency levels are studied in terms of the historical and contemporary factors that shaped them; the political and organizational process that influenced them; their impact on social welfare services, practices and practitioners; and the extent to which they help or hinder the general health and well-being of people. This course also studies the history, mission and philosophy of the social-work profession.

SOCI 241 Social-Work Practice: Organizations, Communities and Institutions
This course focuses on generalist social-work practice with groups, organizations and communities and developing cultural competence in social-work practice. Students learn about organizational culture, agency policy, developing and managing agency resources and implementing agency change. The course also covers approaches to community change, evaluating macro practice, advocacy and social action. Content emphasizes professional relationships that are characterized by mutuality, collaboration and respect for the client system and incorporate use of social-work supervision within macro practice. The course also covers the knowledge, values and skills to enhance human well-being and amelioration of the environmental conditions that affect people adversely. Emphasis is placed on practice skills by working with clients of differing social, racial, religious, spiritual and class backgrounds and with systems of all sizes, including an understanding of differential assessments and intervention skills to serve diverse at-risk populations.

SOCI 242 Social-Work Practice: Groups and Families
This course presents the generalist-practice approach in social work focusing on groups and families. An introduction to family-systems theory, family social work, group dynamics and group work practice are explored, along with techniques in assessment, intervention and evaluation in the family and group context. Information includes the development of professional relationships that are characterized by mutuality, collaboration and respect for the client system. Content on social work values, ethics and cultural competence are discussed.

SOCI 243 Social-Work Practice: Individuals
This course presents the generalist-practice approach in social work focusing on individual practice methods. Students learn the evidenced-based approach and generalist-intervention model, and develop skills to engage with, assess, intervene with and evaluate individuals, with particular emphasis on client strengths and problems in the interaction among individuals and between people and their environments. Content includes social-work values and ethics, including the application of the standards of the National Association of Social Workers code of ethics, and cultural competence in social work practice.

SOCI 250 Immigration and Migration in the United States
In this course we use the insights of sociology to understand migration and, more specifically, immigration. Recognizing that migration is a global phenomenon, students focus mainly on migration and immigration in the context of the United States, while also attending to how patterns observed in the U.S. context are part of wider global patterns with local manifestations. They study key population movements to and within the U.S., past and present. They explore the multiple factors that influence the migration/immigration experience for migrants and their families and that shape the short- and long-term outcomes of the experience. The impact of migration on sending and receiving communities and the history and current state of immigration policy are also addressed.

SOCI 289 Special Topics
A seminar course primarily designed for first-years, sophomores and juniors on a special topic in sociology. It may be proposed by either students or an interested faculty member. Prerequisite: instructor’s consent.

SOCI 300 Social Research Methods
In this class, students learn how social scientists conduct research to test their assumptions and develop scientific accounts of patterns of human action, attitudes and social life. This course provides a general overview of scientific methods of analysis – both quantitative and qualitative – and gives students opportunities to try them out. They develop and implement a research project and learn how to be conscientious consumers of research. The core concepts of sociological research are powerful tools even for those who never do social science professionally. The skills learned in this class – asking good questions, finding relevant data sources and literature, understanding ethical issues associated with research – will last long after the semester ends. Prerequisite: SSCI 224.

SOCI 303 Juvenile Delinquency
The focus of this course is juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice system. In this class we will (1) explore the history of juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice system in the United States; (2) read and discuss current scholarship on how youth become involved in deviant/delinquent behavior; (3) identify and evaluate policy and practice efforts at preventing and addressing juvenile delinquency; and (4) engage with debates about the current state of the juvenile justice system. Spring semester.

SOCI 320 Culture and Consumption (Adv. Core: DD)
This course uses a sociological perspective to explore cultural production and consumption in the United States. It examines the relationship between culture and society with a focus on how cultural consumption is linked to status, boundaries, inclusion, exclusion, and inequality. In what ways are cultural norms, values and objects associated with status, class, race, gender, sexuality, and/or other intersecting identities? How is American culture impacted by global changes? Course readings and assignments will encourage students to question their cultural environments. We will treat culture as a serious and measurable topic of academic inquiry, not something merely associated with entertainment and leisure or an abstract concept that cannot be scientifically analyzed. Summer sessions.

SOCI 344 Social Movements
This course investigates the people who have mobilized to change the shape of their society, often at great personal risk. We consider what has motivated these activists and what has sustained them through hard times and difficult odds. We look at their successes as well as their mistakes made along the way. We examine how the contours of society today are different as a result of their activism. The course traces the development of major movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, including labor, civil rights/Black Power, student, feminist, gay/queer activism and environmental/human-rights struggles by indigenous peoples. We look at what set these movements into motion, structured their form and affected what they have achieved. We investigate the role of resources, strategy, culture and biography in protest.

SOCI / WMGS 346 Intersections of Privilege (Adv. Core: DD)
This course engages in an interdisciplinary and multi-media examination of social inequality, focusing on the complex and intersecting ways that social groups gain advantage over and marginalize others. Students examine topics including race (whiteness), sexuality (heterosexuality), gender (masculinity), class (economic and cultural capital) and nationality (global privilege associated with first-world status). This course integrates perspectives on how privilege is reinforced in day-to-day interactions as well as in larger social structures.

SOCI 348 Socialization and the Life Course
This course draws on the psychological, sociological and biological theories and evidence to develop a clear understanding of how social institutions and elements of the social environment – especially race, ethnicity, gender and social relationships – influence development and social inclusion and exclusion. This course pays special attention to the nature/nurture debate, families and schools as agents of socialization, and death as a life-course stage.

SOCI 352 Foundations of Social Theory (Adv. Core: WT)
This course traces the development of social theory from the Enlightenment to the 21st century. Topics examined include the nature of science and other forms of knowledge, the relationship between self and society, how social order is maintained, how power is exercised, how meanings emerge, and how change occurs. Running through the course is the question of what social theory offers to us individually and collectively in understanding and acting in a world that is complex and multi-layered.

SOCI / WMGS 361 Gender, Sexuality and Society
While gender and sexuality often appear natural, this course investigates their social roots. Throughout the semester students explore the diverse ways in which gender and sexuality have been conceptualized, embodied, shaped, policed and transformed. Additionally, we examine the relationship between gender, sexuality, inequality and major social institutions including education, media, work and family. Finally, we explore the intersections of gender, sexuality, race and class as they relate to a variety of contemporary issues and controversies, including “hooking up,” marriage laws, gender-reassignment surgery and sex education.

SOCI 380 Sociology of the Gang
In 1928, sociologist Frederick Thrasher published “The Gang,” a study of 1,313 gangs in Chicago. Today, more than 80 years later, gangs are still part of the American scene and sociologists are still trying to understand the young people who form and join them and the elemental social processes that are part of gang phenomena. In this course, we survey the general theories and findings of sociologists and criminologists who have studied gangs in the U.S., read monographs and articles reporting findings from contemporary studies of gangs and gang behavior, and learn about various approaches to gang prevention and intervention. Prerequisite: SOCI 100 or SOCI 122. Alternate years.

SOCI 403 Mass Incarceration in the United States
The United States imprisons more people per capita than any other nation. What are the causes and consequences of incarceration on such a large scale? Renowned scholar and activist Angela Y. Davis argues that a prison industrial complex has emerged to surveil, police, brutalize, and imprison people deemed “criminals.” In this course, we will interrogate mass incarceration in the United States from a sociological perspective, paying special attention to complex and intersecting inequalities. Prerequisite: SOCI 100 or 122. Spring, odd-numbered years.

SOCI 444 Health, Illness and Society
Health, just like wealth, is stratified across society. In country, state, city or neighborhood some people or groups are healthy while others are disproportionately sick. In an effort to answer why, this course focuses on the sociobehavioral determinants and population distribution of health disparities of the United States. In this class, students examine articles, narratives, charts and graphs, to not only understand disparities in mental and physical health, but to critique them, forming opinions along the way. This course intends to provide answers to three central questions: How do health disparities emerge and propagate? How do social institutions and elements of the social environment – especially race/ethnicity, class, gender and social relationships – influence health? and how does health influence education, income and occupational status? Fall semester, alternate years.

SOCI 481 / SOCI 482 Human Service Internship
The seminar format of this internship is organized around the student working in the human services field and the supervision received in the field. The combination of the internship, field supervision and reflection in seminar is focused on developing the student application of knowledge of major social competencies and values necessary for generalist social-work practice. An internship should offer the student an opportunity to practice these skills: evaluation and assessment of group and individual psychosocial functioning, plan/policy development and implementation, intervention, referral, advocacy, collaboration, cultural competence, and application of professional ethics. Students are expected to locate the internship, with the assistance and approval of the instructor, before the beginning of the semester and should be on site within the first two weeks of school. Internships should meet the state of Wisconsin regulation and licensing requirements, which can be obtained from the instructor. Often placements require the student to have their own transportation with a clear driving record (in order to transport clients or drive to see clients in their homes), pass drug and background tests, and have some flexibility in their schedule. Students are expected to work 10 to 12 hours per week for the academic year, with a break between semesters. Prerequisite: instructor’s consent. Yearlong course.

SOCI 489 Special Topics
This is a seminar course offered whenever a mutual interest in a more specialized topic in sociology exists for a member of the faculty and a sufficient number of students. Prerequisite: instructor’s consent.

SOCI 490 Independent Study
Individual study of an approved topic in sociology under the direction of a sociology faculty member. Permits faculty and students to explore together some subject of special or personal interest. Reading and tutorial discussion are required; written work is optional. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of the associate dean of social sciences.

SOCI 492 Directed Research
Qualified students may perform sociology research projects under the direction of a sociology faculty member. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of the associate dean of Social Sciences.

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