Sociology Curriculum

 As a student majoring in Sociology at New College, you will be be required to acquire competence in content knowledge, written and oral communication skills and critical thinking skills. These are gained by mastering the fundamental tools of the discipline through a set of core courses, one empirical Independent Study Project (ISP) and five elective courses. Below are descriptions of the required courses, and of a selection of our electives.

In addition to traditional classes, you will also engage in ISPs, group research projects and off-campus contracts that provide important opportunities to gain direct experience of social issues explored in courses and tutorials. Students are encouraged to do field research, particularly in the local community.

Note: Students seeking a slash or joint AOC in Sociology and another discipline (e.g., Sociology/History) have slightly different guidelines.

The five required courses in Sociology at New College are:
Introduction to Sociology

Social Theory
Sociological Research Methods
Statistics

Senior Thesis Seminar

Our elective courses address three broad subfields in sociology: 1) Social Organizations/Institutions, 2) Social Change, and 3) Persons and Society. We require you to take at least one course in each of the three. Below are examples of electives regularly offered that fall within each subfield. Some courses fit more than one category.

1) Social Organization/Institutions
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Space, Place & Community
Queer Studies
Sociology of Development
Contemporary Gender Seminar
Practicum in Community Building
Work Organization and Its Alternatives
Social Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Power
The Sociology of the Arts and Performance
Intersectionality

2) Social Change
Social Movements
Sociology of Development
Sociology of Sustainable Communities
Social Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Power
Intersectionality

3) Persons and Society
Introduction to Sociology through Social Psychology
Sociology of Gender and the Body
Contemporary Gender Seminar
Queer Studies
Social Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Power
The Sociology of the Arts and Performance
Intersectionality
Qualitative Methods for Studying Culture

Descriptions of required core courses in Sociology at New College:
Introduction to Sociology
This initial exploration of sociology as an academic endeavor presents an overview of macro-sociological approaches for the study of social inequality. The purpose of this exploration is to offer an initial understanding of the complexities embedded in the world that surrounds us, and to gain a new view of our own role in this complex web. The course is organized in a progression where we move from a basic introduction into sociology, to a more detailed exploration of two central sociological paradigms (consensus and conflict), to the specific exploration of research and theories surrounding class, gender, and race.

Social Theory
This course explores central issues and concerns of modern social theory through an examination of the works of four major thinkers: Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim. The course is designed to focus on key issues raised by a few important theorists rather than attempt to survey the range of classical or contemporary theory. Critical reading of these works will serve as an introduction to recurring themes, fundamental orientations, and epistemological dilemmas in modern social thought. Not open to first year students. Class size limited to 25.

Sociological Research Methods
This course's main objective is to introduce a range of basic research methods used by sociologists, including surveys, experiments, qualitative interviews, observations and archival methods. The course also addresses the logic of reasoning in social science research and exposes students to some important methodological and epistemological issues in the field.

Statistics
This course will introduce students to applied statistics in the social and behavioral sciences. The course will employ a conceptual approach to using descriptive and inferential statistics. Topics will include frequency distributions, central tendency and variability, probability, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, inferences about means, analysis of variance, correlation, regression, power, and non-parametric analysis. Students will be introduced to computer programs, Excel and SAS, for doing statistical analysis.

Senior Thesis Seminar
This seminar is for sociology students working on their thesis this year. The purpose is to help you make significant progress toward a polished final product. The group will focus on the organization of a sociology thesis, techniques and strategies of research, and the craft of writing itself, as well as substantive problems related to identifying an analytical framework and developing a coherent and well-supported argument. Students will work on their individual empirical projects as they share ideas and benefit from one another’s feedback. Students are required to participate in class discussions, turn in written work on a weekly basis, give one another constructive feedback, and give formal presentations to their peers and the sociology faculty. Students will draft two full chapters of their thesis by the end of the term.

Samples of electives offered in Sociology:
Contemporary Gender Seminar
This course is designed to allow intermediate students an opportunity to examine current conceptions of gender and study how the idea of gender has been applied in recent scholarship. All readings were published within the last ten years. We will begin the semester with a brief review of contemporary dominant perspectives on gender. We will then study a variety of writings that employ gender as an analytic tool. These will focus on men’s and women’s experiences, different stages in the life course, and will attend to intersections with race and class. Topically, the readings cover masculinity, LGBT issues, college sexuality, women’s bodies, and the relationships between feminine and masculine gender performances. Our goal is to understand how scholars are currently using gender in their analyses, and to practice identifying these uses in empirical research. This course fulfills the "Persons and Society" or "Social Organization/Institutions" Sociology AOC requirement. Pre-requisites: At least one Gender Studies course.

Intersectionality
Over the past 20 years, intersectionality has become an important framework for understanding race, class, gender, and sexuality as multiple and interlocking systems of privilege and oppression. This intermediate level course will critically examine the concept of intersectionality in order to understand how it can help us to develop a more complex, critical analysis of the social world and our own lives. We will talk about the development of intersectionality and how it has been conceptualized through an examination of scholarship from multiple disciplines. We will then examine this concept as a research tool, focusing on a few areas of empirical inquiry. Lastly, we will consider the possibilities and challenges of developing a more inclusive social environment and initiating social change. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions,” “Social Change,” or “Persons and Society” Sociology AOC requirements.

Introduction to Sociology through Social Psychology

This course is an introduction to the sociological perspective, with particular attention to the relationships between individuals and society. Sociological social psychology asks questions such as: How does a person develop a sense of who she or he is? How does "society" influence our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors? How does the individual actively participate in structuring his or her social world? This course will introduce you to key concepts, theories, research methodologies, and social processes in sociological social psychology and the research that helps us to understand the ways in which society affects individuals and the ways in which individuals and groups can influence society.
This course fulfills the "Persons and Society" Sociology AOC requirement. Preference will be given to first-year students.

Practicum in Community Building
The main focus of this course will be a community-based project. The exact project will be determined, and will depend on what is available that term. The general focus of the practicum, however, will be on the problem of housing. The readings will include theoretical discussions and empirical studies relevant to understanding current debates concerning so-called “affordable” and “workforce” housing, current “best practices” and their limitations, and, more generally, the sociology of civic engagement, community action and community-based planning as relevant to solving community challenges of this sort. Readings, case studies and classroom discussions will also cover skills and techniques relevant to community building and sustainable development (e.g., facilitation, vision-based planning, charrettes and other tools and techniques of collaborative public process). Prerequisites: Background in the Social Sciences. Class size limited to 20 students. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or "Social Change" Sociology AOC requirements.

Qualitative Methods for Studying Culture
How is culture – something many think of as “outside” of individuals – employed in peoples’ lives? How can qualitative social science research methods help us answer this question? In this course, we will explore both theoretical and methodological approaches to studying culture on the micro-level. This is a hands-on practicum contextualized with rich theoretically-based discussions about current debates in the discipline. To this end, our readings serve to introduce the issues currently at play in the sociological study of culture as well as providing examples of the methodologies sociological researchers of culture employ. Class meetings will consist of a combination of group discussions and project meetings. Students will choose an element of culture to study, and a method appropriate to their research interest from among the range we will cover: individual in-depth interviewing, focus groups, ethnography, case studies, historical and comparative methods, and content analysis. Assignments are designed to ensure consistent progress toward the final paper and allow for feedback from peers.

Queer Studies
This course is an introduction to the topic of Queer Studies from a sociological perspective. This means that we will apply sociological insight as we attempt to better understand the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, as well as how the existence of “queer”-ness affects our understanding of all of social life. To this end, we will invoke several theoretical perspectives, and review a wide variety of empirical studies. We will pay particular attention to issues of identity, politics, and family. Weekly reading assignments and discussion meetings will constitute the majority of the course responsibilities. This includes student participation in the form of writing weekly discussion questions, periodic written responses to others’ discussion questions, and serving as discussion facilitator. Additionally, each student will supplement the work in the meetings with independent research on a topic of his/her choice. These will be ongoing projects resulting in a written document at the end of the term. Before submitting the paper, you will present the project to the group, gaining practice with oral presentation skills and receiving feedback from the group before finalizing the paper. This course can be used to fulfill the "Persons and Society" or "Social Organizations/Institutions" Sociology AOC requirements.

Social Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Power
This seminar will examine social inequality in the U.S. by analyzing how race, ethnicity, class, and gender operate to structure social institutions and relations as well as produce systematic privileges and disadvantages. We will examine the distribution of social resources (e.g. wealth, health, education, and employment) across different groups in society and the impact of this distribution on life conditions, opportunities, outcomes, choices, and experiences. We will analyze various sociological theories and approaches to inequality as well as interrogate popular, widely held beliefs about the causes and consequences of inequality. Lastly, we will examine the impact of inequality on democratic processes in the U.S. and the possibilities for and obstacles to initiating social change. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions,” “Social Change,” or “Persons and Society Sociology AOC requirements.

Social Movements
In this course, we will study different sociological explanations for why and how mobilizations take place and prevail. We will also explore issues such as the role of political opportunity, charismatic leadership, gender, race, ethnicity, and social class in shaping social movements and revolutions. Not only will we explore the difference between social movements and revolutions, but will also delve into the specific historical circumstances of mobilizations in different parts of the world. This course is geared at the intermediate level, students with one or two courses in the social sciences will be better prepared to face its challenges. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or "Social Change" Sociology AOC requirements.

Sociology of Development
In this course we will gain a sociological understanding of the complexities in the study of economic and social development, gaining a keen understanding of three schools of thought: Modernization, Dependent Development, and World Systems. We will explore the historical processes behind economic development and critically analyze the varied definitions of development. We will also look at the underlying assumptions for each definition, their influence in our understanding of the subject matter and effect on policy-making. We shall study the changes in social organization that accompany economic growth, looking not only at infant mortality rates, birth rates, and education, but also at cultural and social transformations such as changes in the roles of women. This course is geared at the intermediate level, students with one or two courses in the social sciences will be better prepared to face its challenges. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or "Social Change" Sociology AOC requirements.

The Sociology of the Arts and Performance
This course will examine the arts and performance as expressive and creative objects and practices that are influenced by and influence society. We will examine various sociologial approaches to the arts and performance, as well as some key thories about the significance of the arts and performances for identity construction, social relations, social class, and resistance. This course will also investigate a number of topics related to the production, consumption, and distribution of the arts including, but not limited to, artistic careers, networks, industries, tastes, aesthetic preferences, and globalization. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or “Persons and Society” Sociology AOC requirements.

Qualitative Methods for Studying Culture
How is culture – something many think of as “outside” of individuals – employed in peoples’ lives? How can qualitative social science research methods help us answer this question? In this course, we will explore both theoretical and methodological approaches to studying culture on the micro-level. This is a hands-on practicum contextualized with rich theoretically-based discussions about current debates in the discipline. To this end, our readings serve to introduce the issues currently at play in the sociological study of culture as well as providing examples of the methodologies sociological researchers of culture employ. Class meetings will consist of a combination of group discussions and project meetings. Students will choose an element of culture to study, and a method appropriate to their research interest from among the range we will cover: individual in-depth interviewing, focus groups, ethnography, case studies, historical and comparative methods, and content analysis. Assignments are designed to ensure consistent progress toward the final paper and allow for feedback from peers. This course can be used to fulfill the "Persons and Society" Sociology AOC requirement.

Sociology of Gender and The Body
This is an introductory-level topics course in sociology. We will highlight general sociological concepts as we focus on the intersection between gender and the body. We will cover a wide range of topics, including: media representations of gendered bodies, body image, cosmetic surgery, menstruation, reproduction, sexuality, sports, and how the body might be used to challenge gender, among others. Although our main focus will be on gender and the body, we will approach our study with attention to other forms of inequality, including race and class. This course can be used to fulfill the "Persons and Society" Sociology requirement.

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
We explore key sociological concepts and theories on race and ethnicity, as well as the historical and current experience of specific ethnic groups in the United States and some examples from abroad. Although this course is on race and ethnicity, the interaction between race, class, and gender will be prevalent. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or "Persons and Society" Sociology AOC requirements.

The Sociology of Sustainable Communities
This course is an effort to develop a critique of contemporary environmentalism and current ideas about sustainability from a sociological perspective. The course will include the following topics: Sociological and historical perspectives on the way we have constructed the relationship between the human and non-human aspects of the world; the history of environmentalism and the environmental movement in the United States, in the context of an understanding of the politics and sociology of land use; the politics of environmentalism in the 20th century, including the unintended consequences of "green" symbolic crusades and environmental regulation; practices and practical challenges of sustainable community development. The overall goal of this course is to challenge much of the current received wisdom and the often unreflective ideas concerning what it might mean to live in a more ecologically responsible fashion, or, in more romantic formulation, in closer harmony with "Nature." In its approach to this critique, the course is oriented by the proposition that a precise sociological understanding of environmental issues can contribute to the formation of genuinely sustainable practices (and politics) of environmental responsibility. Class size will be limited. Prerequisite: Urban Sociology. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or "Social Change" Sociology AOC requirements.

Space, Place & Community
It has often been claimed that physical location has become increasingly irrelevant as a result of new communications technology, transportation systems, postmodern cultural transformations, and global flows of capital. In recent years, however, there has been a rediscovery of the sociological importance of place-- as an empirical phenomenon, as a theoretical object, and as a conceptual anchor for critical discourse. This course offers an introductory exploration of the sociology of place and the ways that place continues to matter, postmodernist confusion notwithstanding. The course will explore cultural practices, forms of material power, and social processes that produce particular landscapes, with a particular focus on the various ways that constructions of space and place connect humans both to each other and to the non-human world. The course is designed to work toward an understanding of the ways that social relations are inscribed, registered visually, represented or obscured, naturalized or manipulated, and given obdurate material reality in the intentional production of spatial arrangements and architectural forms, as well as in the apparently unintended landscapes (both urban and rural, built and supposedly “natural”) against which such productions take shape. This course is intended as an advanced follow-up to Urban Sociology, particularly geared to students interested in Urban and Environmental Studies. Prerequisite: Urban Sociology. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” Sociology AOC requirement.

Urban Sociology
This course is an introduction to the sociological study of the urban landscape. The first part of the course will focus on conceptual and theoretical issues associated with sociological study of the city, from the "Chicago school" sociologists at the turn of the 20th century to more recent analyses of the "social production" of urban space and the sociology of place. In the middle weeks of the course, we turn to the task of gaining an historical understanding of the processes of urbanization and suburbanization in the United States. The last part of the course will focus more on current issues relevant to the challenge of building livable and sustainable cities. Throughout the course, particular emphasis will fall on three themes that have been at the center of recent discussions of the city: the active production of urban space through a variety of political processes and social practices; the character of spatial forms as cultural representation; the significance of visual and material characteristics of the city as a dimension of the ordering of social space. (If it is necessary to limit enrollment, preference will be given to first and second year students.) This class is a prerequisite for “Sociology of Sustainable Communities” and for “Space, Place & Community”. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” or "Social Change" Sociology AOC requirements.

Work Organization and Its Alternatives
In this course we will explore sociological analyses of the organization of work, focusing on twentieth century labor relations. We look at the organization of work in capitalist enterprises from the late 19th and early 20th century to current experiences as influenced by electronic technology. We analyze participatory plans in privately owned corporations, cooperatives, and the Kibbutz. We look at the building principles of these alternatives, their benefits and limitations. This course is geared at the intermediate level, students with one or two courses in the social sciences will be better prepared to face its challenges. This course can be used to fulfill the “Social Organization/Institutions” Sociology AOC requirement.

For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog and the Sociology Academic Learning Compact.

For a complete list of courses, click here.

[Fact]


At New College, 99% of our full-time professors hold the most advanced degree in their fields. All of them serve as advisors and mentors to students.

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