Sociology Course Offerings
The Sociological Imagination (SOC 105): This course provides a comprehensive introduction to sociology by examining the cultural, organizational, and social forces that shape people's perceptions, actions, and opportunities. Areas of emphasis include the sociological perspective, social inequality, and social roles, groups, and institutions.
Sociology of the Family (SOC 253): This course explores the modern American family, examining the traditions, roles, functions, representations, changes, and controversies surrounding the social institution of the family.
Special Topics in Sociology and May Term Classes (SOC 300): These special topic courses and May Term classes explore a variety of unique issues and innovations in sociology.
Social Problems (SOC 305): Focusing on various social problems such as poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse, racism, discrimination, gender inequality, sexual inequality, and global inequality, this course utilizes sociological analysis to examine how social problems are defined and dealt with within the United States and other parts of the world.
Social Theory (SOC 313): This course provides a comprehensive overview of social theory, exploring, contrasting, and critiquing major sociological theorists and theoretical perspectives from their initial introduction in the 19th century through their subsequent developments in the 20th century to their continued relevance in the 21st century. Prerequisite: SOC 105.
Sociology of Popular Culture (SOC 320): This course explores the social implications of popular culture. Focusing on film, television, music, fashion, books, magazines, the Internet, and other forms of entertainment, it critically examines how popular culture is produced, disseminated, consumed, interpreted, and experienced in the United States.
Sports and Society (SOC 330): This course explores sports as a significant cultural, political, and economic force in American society. Focusing on both established and alternative sports, the course incorporates a sociological perspective to critically examine how sports are organized, played, experienced, perceived, and critiqued in the United States.
Sociology of the Life Course (SOC 342): This course examines the life course using a sociological perspective. We will examine the social processes associated with the life course, connecting experiences of cohort, generation, and aging to larger social and historical processes.
Sociology of Sexualities (SOC 345): This course examines sexuality from an historical, social, and interpersonal perspective. Students will study the history of sexuality research in the United States along with the major sexual revolutions. The sociological perspective will be used to understand contemporary issues around sexuality, including transgender rights, sexual orientations, modern-day sexual scripts, the sexual double standard, and the medicalization of sexuality.
Gender in Society (SOC 350): This course examines gender from institutional, interactional, and individual level perspectives. We will cover a brief history of the women's movement and its implications in the United States. A sociological perspective will be used to understand contemporary gender issues, including the social construction of gender, the intersection of work and family, the social construction of masculinity and femininity, and gendered relationships.
Sociology of Inequality (SOC 355): Exploring the economic, cultural, political, and social contexts that contribute to social inequality, this course examines the causes and consequences of social inequality from multiple sociological perspectives, as well as the social actions, theories, policies, and practices that serve to question, challenge, and combat social inequality.
Sociology of Migration (SOC 360): Focusing on the causes, consequences, and controversies associated with migration and immigration, this course examines the cultural, social, economic, global, political, and historical implications of large movements of people across and within national borders; the development and implementation of public policies and services meant to address these large movements of people; and the individual and collective experiences, contributions, struggles, and accomplishments of immigrants and refugees in new lands, settings, and cultures.
People, Power and Protest (SOC 365): This course explores the social conditions that give rise to social movements, looking at how these movements are organized, maintained, challenged, altered, and/or co-opted. Examples of past social movements that led to reformative or transformative social change will be examined including, among others, the Civil Rights Movement, Women's Movement, Gay Rights Movement, and Environmental Movement, along with more recent contemporary social movements such as the Tea Party Movement and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Social Work (SOC 370): This course is designed for students who are interested in learning about or pursuing a career in social work. Providing a comprehensive overview of the profession, the course will introduce students to social work theories, goals, values, ethics, skills, practices, services, and challenges.
Race, Ethnicity, and Class (SOC 372): This course explores race, ethnicity and social class from a sociological perspective. Many people believe that American society is color blind and equal opportunities exist for all. Challenging this assumption by focusing on the continued significance of race, ethnicity, and class in America, this course examines how historical discrimination has led to large gaps in income, wealth, educational opportunities, and health outcomes, as well as how these disparities continue to be re-created and reproduced in everyday life.
Social Welfare Policy (SOC 375): This course examines the United States' response to the needs of the poor, disenfranchised, discriminated, and/or oppressed people of this country. Students will explore the cultural values and attitudes, as well as the economic and political dynamics that shape social welfare policies and programs in the United States.
Social Research Methods (SOC 390): This course provides a comprehensive introduction to research methods including research design, data collection techniques, and methods of analysis. Focusing on both quantitative and qualitative research methods, students will develop the ability to critically evaluate different types of research, as well as to conceptualize and design their own research project. Prerequisite: MATH 150.
Applied Sociology (SOC 395): This course uses sociological theory and research methods to explore real-world social applications. Students will work with a community organization on a particular social issue with some practical outcome in mind. This course will allow students to gain a greater understanding of how sociological concepts, theory, methods, and findings are used in practice.
Seminar in Sociology (SOC 400): An informal group experience for advanced students to explore issues, problems, and innovations in sociology and the social sciences field. Prerequisite: senior standing or instructor consent.
Directed Studies (SOC 401): Student-initiated projects or studies that intensively examine or explore topics not otherwise offered in the sociology program. Prerequisite: consent of instructor and school dean.
Internship (SOC 440): An opportunity to integrate classroom knowledge with practical experience in a community internship. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing (for transfer students, at least 15 hours completed at Westminster or permission of instructor), minimum 2.5 GPA, and consent of the program director and Career Center internship coordinator.
Senior Thesis: SOC (470): All sociology majors will produce a senior thesis that examines a sociological event and/or phenomenon through original research, secondary analysis, and/or theoretical exploration. As part of their senior thesis, all sociology majors will participate in a senior thesis seminar (or a senior thesis directed study) in which they will critically share their thesis work with their fellow students and/or thesis advisor. Prerequisites: SOC 390, senior standing, sociology major declaration, and instructor consent.
Sociology May Term Courses
Exploding Hollywood: This course explores the cultural implications of Hollywood action films. Students will learn how, for better and worse, Hollywood action blockbusters help to shape Americans' images of themselves and non-Americans' images of Americans. Examining these films, students will explore a wide array of sociological questions, such as what accounts for the enduring popularity of these movies. How do these films reinforce and challenge dominant American values? What role do women play in these movies and how is their role changing? Along with critically analyzing classics of the genre, the course will include field trips to the newest Hollywood action blockbuster releases.
Food for Thought: This course explores individual food choices and larger social forces from a sociological perspective. Food consumption and production will be explored from cultural, critical, structural, and historical perspectives. Topics include food movements (slow food, vegetarianism, urban farming, etc.), gender and bodies, global consumption, fast food, and food justice.
Meow or Never: Cats in Society: This course explores the world of cats from a cultural, social, and historical perspctive, including an examination of the popularity of cats, and the relationships between cats and their human companions. This course will help us better understand what the study of animals, and cats in particular, can "tell us" about the values and characteristics of our society today.
Sociology of Love: Focusing on the social, cultural, and historical dimensions of romantic love, this course examines representations of romantic love in film, video, music, literature, and art. In what way is romantic love culturally depicted and framed? How is it interpreted, internalized, and experienced? Why are stories about romantic love so popular: the perfect soul mate, the consummate kiss, the happy ending? We'll explore romantic fantasies in all of their cultural forms to better understand how the centrality of romantic love in our culture and popular culture contributes to the importance of romantic love in our lives. For all of you who love a good love story but are still confused about what love really is, and isn't, this course is for you.
The 1960s and '70s: Focusing on the news events, social movements, technological innovations, fashion, art, films, and music of the 1960s and '70s, this course examines what really went on in the 1960s and '70s in terms of social change and cultural transformation and how much of that social change and cultural transformation, several generations later, still resonates.
Sociology May Term Study Abroad Experiences
A Real World Gender Utopia: This study abroad experience in Norway and Sweden is designed to expose students to issues of gender inequality from a cross-cultural and historical perspective. Students will meet women leaders in both Norway and Sweden who are working on issues central to women's lives in the areas of higher education, and the non-profit and corporate worlds.
"European Socialism" and the Globalization of Capitalism: This study abroad experience in France and Switzerland enables students to understand "European socialism" as a cultural value system as well as an economic system. Exploring how Europeans in France and Switzerland experience "socialism" as both a way of life and a way to look at life, students will gain a better understanding of the qualitative pros and cons of living in a democratic "social welfare society" as well as what may be changing in such societies due to the advent and acceleration of the globalization of capitalism.