Signature Course Descriptions
Sociology 101 - Introduction to Sociology
Professor Lisa McIntyre
Sociology 101 provides an introduction to sociology, including various sociological topics as well as a sociological way of viewing the world. Topics covered include: what is sociology, what is culture, how does deviance operate in society, and many others. The goal of the course is to show students the interconnectedness of things in society. The course shows students how they are constrained and empowered by society and the role that we all play in influencing society. Professor McIntyre presents these topics with a refreshing element of humor.
This course is important to sociology majors because it introduces students to the basic vocabulary and points of view largely used in sociology. For non- sociology majors, the course is important because it teaches them the interconnectedness of society and their role in that social process. Professor McIntyre teaches this course in lecture format and provides students with a "lecture guide" that gives an overview of the material and offers optional study opportunities to make the material more easily understood.
Sociology 310 - Development of Social Theory
Professor Christine Horne
This course teaches students to develop an analytic approach to theory and to connect abstract theories to the empirical world. The course focuses on one substantive issue - the problem of social order. Students learn to break theory down into its component parts and, in turn, to compare theorists' approaches to this substantive problem. This process helps students to think about the most basic elements of the theories. To increase their understanding of the relevance of social theory for real-world phenomena, students practice applying the theories to contemporary social problems - situations in which order has broken down.
Sociology 340 - Social Inequality
Professor Julie Kmec
Professor Kmec's signature course is Social Inequality. Topics covered include theories of social inequality, trends in income inequality, ideology in the U.S., social mobility and education, inequality in the workplace, environmental inequality, and inequality in the criminal justice system. Professor Kmec wants students to have an understanding of how structures outside of an individual's control shape the individual's attitudes, behaviors, and achievements.
This course prepares sociology majors to understand a more diverse group of colleagues and to involve students in a growing area of sociological work. The course is largely activity and interaction based, and minimizes the use of traditional lectures. She uses Power Point in the course and maintains a web site including interesting articles, links to websites, and assignments. Professor Kmec is an advocate of active learning and engaging students in topics. She makes it a point to make the students feel welcome as well as comfortable speaking out in class. She is also extremely excited to be teaching this topic and feels that her research keeps her up to date on the material and feeds her excitement as well as the excitement of the students. She explains that any students interested in social justice issues, or concerned about issues related to minorities or people of color, should be especially interested in this course.
Sociology 345 - Sociology of Sport
Professor Tom Rotolo
Millions of people worldwide are involved in sport, either as fans, spectators, or participants. This course explores how sociologists and other social scientists consider sport as an industry, a product, and a focus of attention in society. Outside from the reporting of actual athletic events, most popular treatments of sport in the media involve in-depth examination of a specific athlete or team, or are designed to help improve performance in a particular sport. In contrast, this course is organized around the study of sport as an entity within the social world. The major emphasis is on sport in North America . Informed by some basic ideas from sociology, the course examines how sport socializes young people and adults, and considers the role of sport in perpetuating and dismantling gender, racial, and class inequalities. Additionally, the course considers social, economic, political, and cultural issues involved with viewing and participating in sport.
Sociology 351 - The Family
Professor Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson
Professor Johnson's signature course is Sociology of the Family. In this course Professor Johnson emphasizes demographic and historical change and continuity in the American family, and in so doing, tackles popular myths about families. Students in this class discuss family-related current events, which enables them to take on some of society's most controversial issues that relate to people's core values. Professor Johnson maintains an emphasis on the connections between the family as an institution and other social institutions (e.g. work and the economy, government and politics). Topics covered in the course include the social and legal construction of the family, gender and families, family divisions of labor (paid and unpaid work), domestic violence, family transitions (cohabitation, marriage, parenthood and divorce), and parenting and the socialization of children. Across topics, students examine diversity in family experiences across racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and economic groups. Professor Johnson combines a lecture format with films and active learning exercises focused on the application of sociological concepts to contemporary family experiences and controversies. This course gives students the opportunity to wrestle with the ways in which families are both a product of and a contributing factor in social change. Further, the policy focus of this course makes it particularly relevant to jobs that students might pursue after completing their undergraduate education.
Sociology 361 - Criminology
Professor Jennifer Schwartz
This course is designed to dispel myths and popular misconceptions about the extent of crime and violence and about who commits crime in the United States . After developing an understanding of the basic contours of criminal offending, we use crime theories to help us understand why some people engage in crime and others do not, why some communities have higher crime rates than others, and why crime rates are high during some periods of history and low in others. Students will also come away with a better understanding of what has influenced their own decisions regarding involvement in crime. Additional topics include: defining what is criminal, measuring criminal offending, media portrayals of crime, and characteristics of offenses such as homicide, burglary, drunk driving, and prostitution. These issues and topics are presented using a sociological perspective, meaning that students will become more aware of the social forces shaping offending patterns and official reactions to it..
Sociology 430 - Society and Technology
Professor Eugene Rosa
Professor Rosa's signature course is Society and Technology. In this course, Professor Rosa's goal is to teach students that technology doesn't exist in a vacuum, but instead interfaces with people and society. Subtopics that will be covered in this course include: the history of the U.S. from 1870-1970 in terms of technology and social change, technology - benefit or detriment, the unintended consequences of technology, and risk taking. Professor Rosa feels that this course is important for students because it exposes them to information about many of the major public decision issues of the day and gives them the information they need to intelligently approach these issues. Professor Rosa's primary teaching goal is to inspire his students to think critically and to foster the value of civic responsibility. Besides being a "great course," according to his students, it serves as a bridge for students to draw together many things that they learned in previous courses.
Professor Rosa does not assume the students enrolled in this course have extensive sociological backgrounds, and has designed the course to be approachable for students from many areas of WSU. This is a popular course among engineering students, business students, and environmental science students, and of course, students of sociology.
Sociology 480 - Sociology of Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration
Racial and ethnic groups in the contemporary U.S. were produced through the colonization of native people, the importation of African slaves, and immigration from all regions of the world. These historical processes created one of the most racially diverse populations in the world, and one which continues to grow more diverse as a result of international migration. The circumstances of departure and arrival of each racial or ethnic group differ, often resulting in differential treatment of racial and ethnic groups by the U.S. government and U.S. residents and inequality between racial and ethnic groups.
This course introduces the concepts social scientists use to describe and understand the production of racial and ethnic categories and how race and ethnicity have produced unequal outcomes in U.S. and other societies. These concepts include racial categorizations, prejudice, discrimination, anti-discrimination policies, immigration, immigrant incorporation, and immigration policies. Students will learn about specific racial and ethnic groups – American Indians, African Americans, European Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans – and their histories and contemporary issues.