Core Curriculum

The Social World

 

"Many students may have never questioned their assumptions about health, or vulnerable or marginalized populations," yet students in Dr. Priscilla Ryder's Health Disparities course engage directly with the issues of health inequalities, public health, social justice, diversity, and the social determinants of health.  Students' perceptions of what "health" means are challenged and enriched by interactions with community partners-mentoring, tutoring, kinship care and support-at places such as the you and kinship care programs at the Martin Luther King Community Center and the Kaleidoscope Youth Center.

In his course, Understanding Global Issues in the Twenty-First Century, Dr. Antonio Menendez expects students to "critically reflect on issues that affect both the United States and the international community," and to view these issues as keenly interrelated.  The goal, Menendez indicates, is for students to "gain a greater sense of responsibility for their community's role in fostering just relations with other societies."

Dr. Brooke Beloso expects her students, in Intersections of Identity, to explore the social construction of difference and inequality with particular focus on race, gender, sexuality and class (primarily) in the United States.  And like Ryder's students, Beloso's students directly engage with the the social, cultural, economic and political world in which they are embedded through active and reflective protest.  "Students are able to discuss hot topic issues," she explains, "in a safe space that they co-create… in this setting," she continues, students are "able to both refine their opinions and change them."  They come to better understand the interaction between a society's values and its definition of social problems, and to better discern the social, scientific, and ethical dimensions of issues in the society in which they live.

Course Structure

A menu of three-hour courses to be taken from the first year onward.

Learning Objectives

  • To study selected questions about human beings and the social, cultural, economic and political world in which they are embedded.
  • To develop an understanding of the variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods social scientists use to study the social world.
  • To develop the ability to discern the social, scientific and ethical dimensions of issues in the social world, and to understand the interaction between a society's values and its definition of social problems.

Some examples of courses currently being offered in The Social World include:

Intersections of Identity
This course will explore the social construction of difference and inequality with particular focus on race, gender, sexuality and class (primarily) in the United States. From a critical-cultural perspective, this course will examine systems of inequality, domination, privilege and oppression. This course will equip students with the ability to interrogate dominant ideology and develop an understanding of how systems of inequality impact everyone's daily lives. Students will also explore avenues for positive social change and justice.

The Mexican Revolution
As the first social revolution in world history, the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) toppled a repressive dictatorship and rang in a new era of state formation, nationalism, and modernization. Victorious new leaders sought to alter not only the political structures of the country, but also 'revolutionize' Mexican society through a series of far-reaching reforms to 'mold the hearts and minds' of New Men and New Women. 'The Mexican Revolution and the Archeology of Knowledge' will provide students with the opportunity to study the class, race and gender politics of the Mexican Revolution as they were shaped through the disciplines of anthropology and history. In analyzing the cultural project of the revolution, especially indigenismo, or indigenism -- the valorization of Mexico's indigenous past and study of indigenous cultures -- students will examine the relationship between social science and nation building, historiography and national identity, and knowledge and power.

Understanding Society: Race, Ethnicity, and Society
This course is designed for students interested in understanding how racism affects our social institutions and interactions. We will take a close look at prejudices and myths about race and our own beliefs, behaviors, and biases. During the semester, case studies and readings will be used to help students understand ethnic relations and the unique creation of race within societies. Issues of inequality as related to institutions will be discussed along with ethnic values and socialization.

Understanding Society: Health, Illness, and Society
This course examines the social contexts of health, illness, and medical care. It introduces the beginning student to underlying regularities in human social behavior and to the analysis of society through the specific topic of health and illness. Lectures and readings analyze society in terms of theory, culture, socialization, and such societal institutions as sex and gender, family, and the media.