Sociology

Course Descriptions

SOCI 111 Introduction to Sociology (4)

Systematic description and analysis of the creation and composition of groups; development of the sociological imagination as the key to understanding the interconnectedness of individuals, cultures and social institutions. An introduction to sociological theory, methodology, and analysis as well as to the major topics studied by the discipline.

SOCI 121 Introduction to Anthropology (4)

This course will provide an introduction to the field of anthropology. Anthropology is a holistic and comparative study of human diversity. Students will examine cross-cultural examples to shed light on all the aspects of human life and culture from language and religion, to technology and medicine, to the study of our human and non-human ancestors.

SOCI 206 Qualitative Research Methods (4)

This course serves as a follow-up elective to SOCI 205. This course will focus on qualitative research methods such as participant and non-participant observation, in-depth interviews, content analysis, and photography. Students will design their own qualitative research, collect qualitative data, and analyze their data in the context of existing literature. Prerequisites: SOCI 111 and SOCI 205

SOCI 229 Intimate Relationships (4)

Friendships from childhood to adulthood; the development and maintenance of relationships; the impact of social forces on sexual behavior, dating, courtship and mate selection; challenges and issues in intimate relationships. Limited to First and Second Year Students.

SOCI 230 Family and Society (4)

Explores the family as a SOCIAL institution, recognizing the diversity of families around the world and within various cultures. The course places particular emphasis on the history, current challenges, and future directions of the family in United States, while examining how societal perspectives on gender, race, ethnicity, social class, and immigration status impact interactions and roles within the family. Students examine how families are influenced and shaped by social forces such as the economy, politics, and religion.

SOCI 250 Social Problems (4)

This course provides an overview of the sociological study of social problems and issues, both in the United States and in global perspective. The course will examine the nature and causes of social problems as well as possible solutions. Theoretical and methodological perspectives used to analyze social problems will also be considered.

SOCI 271 Individual Learning Project (1-4)

Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

SOCI 277 Global Health, Culture, and Inequality (4)

This course explores global health from an anthropological perspective. It examines how medical anthropologists attempt to understand global health challenges within a larger historical, cultural, political, and economic framework. This course will cover a wide range of health challenges from a variety of cultural and geographic contexts. We will examine a number of topics and diseases – both infectious and non-communicable – through case studies and ethnographies. Students will consider issues of gender inequality, maternal and child health, humanitarian aid, global mental health, and the bioethics of global health practices. The course emphasizes the numerous political, economic, structural and cultural forces that lead to the unequal distribution of disease globally. Thematic Focus Justice

SOCI 277A Global Health, Culture and Inequality (4)

This course explores global health from an anthropological perspective. It examines how medical anthropologists attempt to understand global health challenges within a larger historical, cultural, political, and economic framework. This course will cover a wide range of health challenges from a variety of cultural and geographic contexts. We will examine a number of topics and diseases – both infectious and non-communicable – through case studies and ethnographies. Students will consider issues of gender inequality, maternal and child health, humanitarian aid, global mental health, and the bioethics of global health practices. The course emphasizes the numerous political, economic, structural and cultural forces that lead to the unequal distribution of disease globally.

SOCI 279 SOCI THEMATIC FOCUS TOPICS (0)

SOCI 279A QUANTITIVE METHODS SOCI(SS,SW) (4)

This course will use a “hands on” approach by students to grapple with the quantitative analyses of data in the social sciences. Students will learn about the operationalization, computation, and transformation of variables. Students will create and test hypotheses using SPSS. They will also write up their results using a journal article format and give presentations of their results.

SOCI 301 Student Delegation to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (1-2)

SOCI 304 Sociological Theory (4)

Major 20th century American and European developments in the social sciences. Central ideas and assumptions of the founders of modern sociology, anthropology and psychology: Durkheim, Weber, Mead and Freud. A survey of recent schools of thought and a consideration of the social sciences in society. Prerequisite SOCI 111.

SOCI 319 Sex and Gender (4)

A survey of sociological knowledge about sex and gender as fundamental organizing principles of our social world. Examines the interplay of sex, gender, and sexual orientation as they change over time and across cultures. Critical analysis of what it means to live as a gendered, sexual being in today's society.

SOCI 322 Transnational Anthropology (4)

Cultures and cultural groups have never been bounded to a single location – people have always been in movement, learning from people outside their cultural groups, and hybridizing ideas and ways of life. This course uses cultural anthropology theory and method to study transnational cultural groups that are present in contemporary Minnesota. In particular, we will study ethnographic manuscripts about Hmong, Somali, and Mexican people and topics including ethnicity, migration, refugeeism, tourism, nomadism, political economy, and medical anthropology. Students will be conducting original ethnographic research in a semester-long project that analyzes a particular transnational cultural case study.

SOCI 323 Medical Anthropology (4)

Medical anthropology seeks to understand human health and wellbeing, the experience and distribution of illness, and methods of healing across cultures. While illness and health are universal concepts, the specific conditions that lead to illness and health, and the understanding of what these various states do to one’s body and one’s spirit, vary greatly. In our biomedically-oreinted society, we often take for granted the various ways that culture, political economy, social structures, religion, and environment impact health. In this course, we explore the cultural variations that exist in the ways people experience, diagnose, and treat illnesses. We will cover a variety of topics from childhood disease and stress to medical travel and pharmaceutical marketing. The course readings will be rooted in ethnographic inquiry – that is, we will read about the lived experiences of people seeking health and healing, the methods anthropologists use to collect such data, and the theories that help us explain them. Course readings include a graphic novel about medical promise, an ethnography about Malawian medical students, and numerous case studies from all over the world that will bring us closer to understanding the various and complex ways people experience health, illness, and healing.

SOCI 324 Anthropology of Africa (4)

Africa is an immense continent of strikingly rich and diverse geography, politics and cultures. This course explores many of the central issues and debates in the anthropological study of contemporary Africa, with a focus on sub- Saharan Africa. Media representations of Africa often focus solely on suffering, poverty, disease and corruption. African life is also frequently portrayed as a singular unified experience. Yet, African societies and communities are dynamic: both in their cultural, political and historical diversity, and in their responses to the legacies of colonialism and the challenges of the contemporary global context. While this course will examine many of the problems that contemporary Africans face, we will also contextualize these problems and counter prevailing narratives about Africa by exploring the resilience and rich cultural life on the continent. Topics will include: colonialism and post-colonialism, political economies, kinship and social organization, religion, health, gender, globalization, sexuality, and arts.

SOCI 326 Cultural Thought and Meaning (4)

How have engagements with cultural “others” helped create knowledge, expand our understanding of ourselves and the world, and inspired us to think about humanity? In this class, we will learn about some of the key theoretical paradigms in cultural anthropology, from its earliest inception through contemporary, experimental anthropological thought. As anthropological theory must be deployed in ethnographic practice to have any effect, theoretical material in this class will be paired with ethnographies, articles, manuscripts, and films-which exemplify, challenge and build upon abstract concepts. Prerequisite: Either SOCI 111 or SOCI 121.

SOCI 327 Food, Culture and Society (4)

Food is central to human life, but how food is defined, acquired, and consumed varies widely throughout the world. This class takes a four-field anthropological approach to the study of food. In this course, students will explore how food nourishes and shapes our bodies, how historical changes in food acquisition have shaped society, and how globalization is re-shaping what and how we eat. The social and cultural importance of food will be emphasized in this class, and students will examine the role of food in building identity, making meaning, organizing society, and creating social practices. This course will draw on anthropological theory and methods to understand the importance of food in shaping and giving meaning to human life.

SOCI 330 Family Violence (4)

Analysis of incidence, causes and treatment of major forms of family violence. Includes abuse, neglect and exploitation in parent-child, courtship and marital relationships.

SOCI 333 Sociology of Medicine and Health Care (4)

Western medicinal practices and the organization of the health care system including medical education, health insurance, problems of medical practice, hospital organization, health personnel, the doctor-patient relationship, alternative medicine, and death and dying. Alternate years.

SOCI 334 Deviant Behavior (4)

Definition, causes and theories of deviant behavior in the framework of social norms and institutions. Major deviant identities in American society. Prerequisite: 111.

SOCI 335 Sociology of Religion (4)

Sociological phenomena of religious expression. Role of religion in society. Sociology of denominational differences and religious communities.

SOCI 336 Cultural Journeys in Latin America (4)

This course offers an introduction to the region of Latin America and to the field of anthropology. Latin America is a vast expanse of geographic extremes from the glaciers of Patagonia to altiplano desert to the Amazon basin. The region is home to more than half a billion people, speaking over eight hundred languages, and living in twenty different nations. It is a region of contrasts, where wealth and poverty are often in proximity. It is the world’s most urbanized region, yet Latin America is often associated with agrarian communities. Using anthropological concepts such as culture, community, identity, and political economy, students will explore Latin America’s great diversity while also identifying the cultural factors that unify and shape Latin America.

SOCI 337 Special Topics (2-4)

See official class schedule. Offered when needed.

SOCI 337B Wealth and Poverty (4)

Social and economic inequality is receiving increased attention in recent years. This class will explore a range of issues and research related to inequality. These questions include: Is economic and social inequality necessary? How does inequality overlap with race, gender, religion, and other demographic characteristics? How does inequality shape everything from the things we buy to how long we live? How does the United States compare to other nations in regards to inequality? Although some class days will involve lectures, many class days will examine these questions through discussions, films, and other activities.

SOCI 337F Sociological Perspectives on Environmental Issues (4)

Issues such as depletion of natural resources, pollution, loss of habitat, global warming (or not), population growth, urban growth and sprawl, biodiversity, toxic waste management, transportation, energy, vegetarianism, sustainable community development, and globalization will be considered. Aspects of these issues to be covered include: conditions of emergence, theories, applicable social movements and counter-movements, cross-cultural perspectives, and social change. Special attention will be given to consideration of low or minimal impact lifestyle efforts.

SOCI 337I Global Health, Culture and Inequality (4)

This course explores global health from an anthropological perspective. It examines how medical anthropologists attempt to understand global health challenges within a larger historical, cultural, political, and economic framework. This course will cover a wide range of health challenges from a variety of cultural and geographic contexts. We will examine a number of topics and diseases – both infectious and non-communicable – through case studies and ethnographies. Students will consider issues of gender inequality, maternal and child health, humanitarian aid, global mental health, and the bioethics of global health practices. The course emphasizes the numerous political, economic, structural and cultural forces that lead to the unequal distribution of disease globally.

SOCI 337J Climate Studies: Culture, Science and Policy in a Changing Environment (4)

This course uses a cultural focus to understand how humans study, experience, interpret, and mitigate global climate change. We investigate climate science, politics, and economics, along with how climate change intersects with matters of justice, gender, globalization, media, development, and higher education. As we learn about these topics, we will conduct applied research on particular climate topics at various scales—local, state, national, and international—to work towards defining solutions and ways forward in a rapidly changing environment.

SOCI 337K Political Anthropology (4)

Why does Minnesota co-manage fishing with Ojibwe tribes? How do Somali refugees navigate life outside their homeland? How do the Hmong and other stateless nations respond to pressures from state governments? This course addresses these and other pressing questions where politics and intercultural knowledge meet. Political Anthropology began as the study of societies that live without a state government, such as tribal and egalitarian nations. Today, the field has grown to include the intercultural dimensions of state governments, especially the impacts of colonialism, migration, and war. Prerequisite: Any one of the following: SOCI 111 or 121, PSYC 111, ECON 111, POLS 111 or 121, PCST 111, or Permission of Instructor.

SOCI 337N Social Movements (4)

How do social movements emerge and develop? How are they organized? What are the different strategies and tactics groups use for social change? Why are some social movements successful, while others fail to have an impact? This course will attempt to answer these and other key questions about social movements and social change by examining selected social movements in the U.S. and other countries. The course will also explore the globalization of social movements.

SOCI 337O Conspiracy Theory and the Social Construction of Reality (4)

This is a course grounded in the sociology of knowledge. As sociologists, our approach to the study of conspiracy theory will focus on how truth and falsehood are socially constructed in our society. We will ask a variety of questions in this class: Why do conspiracy theories seem so wildly popular at this moment in history? How are people convinced of the truth of either a conspiracy theory or an official narrative that contradicts it and aims to debunk it? How can people in one society find evidence for—and claim as true—wildly incompatible and mutually exclusive versions of reality? How can power, science, and media be used to bolster or undermine truth claims? While we won’t reach a final conclusion on the “reality” of any particular conspiracy theory, this course will improve your ability to weigh the plausibility and legitimacy of competing arguments about social reality.

SOCI 337P Love, Sex, and Marriage: Anthropological Perspectives on Kinship (4)

Families are universal, yet their form varies widely across the globe. People hold strong ideas about who belongs to their family, what responsibilities family members have towards each other, who they can have sex with, and who they should marry. While our ideas about family seem natural and rigid, they are in fact eminently flexible and constantly changing. Kinship is a term used in anthropology to mean the web of social relations that make up families. In considering the different ways that people come to see themselves as related to one another, we will examine familial practices of different cultures, and consider how contemporary social changes like new reproductive technologies, migration, and transnational marriage are shaping family life around the world.

SOCI 337R Native North Americans (4)

Why do some Native nations have unique fishing rights? Why do some operate casinos? This topics course explores these and other questions that examine the ways Native nations continue to assert self-governance. For centuries, colonizers used military and assimilationist campaigns against Native nations. Fortunately, these campaigns failed to account for Native nations’ resilience and North American continues to be home to hundreds of distinct tribal governments. By exploring the histories and cultures Native nations in Minnesota and across North America, students in this course will learn from the strategies they use to resist colonization and assert their independence.

SOCI 337S Communities (4)

"Community has always been a central concept in Sociology, and this course will introduce you to the history of sociologists' analyses of communal life. We will study the relationship between the individual and the community, as well as relationships between communities. We will consider both geographic and relational communities, the degree to which these overlap, and changes in the structure and function of communities over time. The first half of the course will cover the history of sociologists' theoretical and empirical work on community, while the second half of the course will focus on contemporary American communities. Much of our time will be spent studying new, emerging forms of community made possible by technology and mobility."

SOCI 338 World Populations (4)

Analysis of population statistics, population dynamics, the use of socially constructed ways of classifying subgroups, projective models, and social policy. Some topics covered include: immigration policies; the "limits to growth" controversy, analysis of vital statistics. Alternate years.

SOCI 340 Criminology and Corrections (4)

Theoretical causes of criminal behavior. Strengths, limitations, and challenges to the effectiveness of police, judicial, and corrections systems in the U.S. Attention to the role of the media and cultural biases in analyzing the "crime problem." Course includes an optional Service Learning component. Alternate years.

SOCI 341 Urban Studies (4)

An overview of the development of community forms and life-styles in central cities and suburbs. Disintegration and renewal. Competition and conflict over territory and services. Churches, schools, diversity, pressure groups and parties. Selected policy problems. Attention is paid to cultural, structural and ecological components of urban issues. Alternate years.

SOCI 342 Self and Society (4)

Micro-sociological analysis of interaction in social settings. Varied topics considered with special emphasis upon research findings as illustrations of theories considered. Perspectives could include symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, dramaturgy, as well as some exercises in exchange theory and phenomenology. Prerequisite: SOCI 111.

SOCI 349 Environmental Anthropology (4)

This course examines the relationships between human cultures and the environments they inhabit. We will engage with the ways in which environments are collusions of human knowledge, perspective, histories, and economic and other cultural systems. Many of the course texts grapple with environmental management systems throughout the world, and ways that people plan for, participate in, subvert, and are affected by environment management schemes. Furthermore, this course also emphasizes the ways in which people shape knowledge about the environment and environmental management throughout historical vantages as well as Western science, particularly of conservation biology and ecology. Prerequisite: Any one of the following: SOCI 111 or 121, PSYC 111, ECON 111, POLS 111 or 121, PCST 111, or Permission of Instructor.

SOCI 351 Race and Ethnic Groups in the United States (4)

The current situation of and issues concerning African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Jews and other races and ethnic groups.

SOCI 353 Political Sociology (4)

Political participation, power and ideology as expressed in political structures and processes. Voting, political parties, social movements.

SOCI 355 Social Gerontology (4)

Study of the later years of life from a life-course perspective which views aging as a life-long process. Exploration of how social institutions shape the process of aging in society, the role of social policy in defining old age and the impact of social forces on the aging process.

SOCI 357 Sociology of Education (4)

Examines the social factors affecting learning and educational processes. Considers the relationship between types of societies and systems of education and the rise of education as a social institution, the links between schools and social stratification, and the contribution of schools to the preservation of the social order. Prerequisite: 111.

SOCI 371 Individual Learning Project (1-4)

Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year or second-year students.

SOCI 378 THEMATIC FOCUS: MOVEMENT (0)

SOCI 378A Transnational Anthropology (4)

Cultures and cultural groups have never been bounded to a single location – people have always been in movement, learning from people outside their cultural groups, and hybridizing ideas and ways of life. This course uses cultural anthropology theory and method to study transnational cultural groups that are present in contemporary Minnesota. In particular, we will study ethnographic manuscripts about Hmong, Somali, and Mexican people and topics including ethnicity, migration, refugeeism, tourism, nomadism, political economy, and medical anthropology. Students will be conducting original ethnographic research in a semester-long project that analyzes a particular transnational cultural case study.

SOCI 379A Conspiracy Theory and the Social Construction of Reality (4)

This is a course grounded in the sociology of knowledge. As sociologists, our approach to the study of conspiracy theory will focus on how truth and falsehood are socially constructed in our society. We will ask a variety of questions in this class: Why do conspiracy theories seem so wildly popular at this moment in history? How are people convinced of the truth of either a conspiracy theory or an official narrative that contradicts it and aims to debunk it? How can people in one society find evidence for—and claim as true—wildly incompatible and mutually exclusive versions of reality? How can power, science, and media be used to bolster or undermine truth claims? While we won’t reach a final conclusion on the “reality” of any particular conspiracy theory, this course will improve your ability to weigh the plausibility and legitimacy of competing arguments about social reality.

SOCI 396 Sociology Capstone (4)

An integrative academic experience which engages majors in key debates and issues of concern to sociologists. Preparation for the transition to graduate school and/or exploration of the applicability of sociology in the workplace. Students demonstrate mastery of core concepts, theoretical perspectives, and methods of the discipline through original research. Emphasis placed on critical reading of scholarly journals and on student participation in sociological discourse. Topics determined by expertise of the faculty. Prerequisites: Sociology major and senior standing or consent of instructor.

SOCI 397 Internship (1-8)

Supervised field work and experience in a variety of social, administrative and research settings. Subject to approval of faculty advisor and department chair and completion of the pre-internship seminar. S/U grading. No more than 4 credit hours may be applied to the major.

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Ellen Block
Chair, Sociology Department
SJU Simons 114
320-363-3193