First Year Seminars

We currently offer three first-year seminars in sociology: 20th Century Revolutions, Emotion and Culture, and Race and Ethnicity. Each first-year seminar is intended to help students see similarities between reading academic scholarship and producing it. Through class discussion and small group work, students will develop their capacity to think critically, conduct research, and write within the field of sociology.

Sociological writing requires students to critically survey the existing literature, develop research questions, discuss methodology and produce results. By the end of the first-year seminar in sociology, students will be able to: 

  • effectively analyze the social factors shaping individual experiences; 
  • perform critical readings of assigned works; 
  • offer compelling oral arguments in class discussion; 
  • write in a style consistent with expectations of the discipline of sociology; and, 
  • evaluate and revise their own and others’ writing.

FS: 20th Century Revolutions

(course syllabus)

15S: 2

The twentieth century has witnessed tumultuous social and political upheavals, ranging from the rise and demise of the Bolshevik communists to the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism. The examination of these upheavals will form the core of this course. Using a comparative framework, we will analyze critical political developments in Russia, Iran, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. Before their political breakdown, authoritarian states in these countries generated impressive economic growth and development. We will examine the factors that led to the rise of social conflicts and the eventual collapse of these states. We will also analyze the causes of the different outcomes that emerged: Bolsheviks in Russia, Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, revolutionary socialism and its subsequent collapse in Nicaragua, and the restoration of liberal democracy in the Philippines. Finally, we will investigate the position taken by the United States in these revolutionary upheavals. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Parsa.

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FS: Emotion and Culture

(course syllabus)

14S: 10A  15S: 2A  16S: 10A

In this seminar we will study emotion from a sociological perspective—meaning how the culture and structures within a society shape both our experience and expression of emotion. Substantive topics include emotion norms, emotion management, and emotional socialization. We will also examine how emotions operate at work, in the family, and in social movement organizations. You will be asked to produce three writing assignments (two of which require multiple drafts), participate in two peer review processes, and present your final paper—which may or may not involve original data collection—to the class. Dist: SOC. Lively. 

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FS: Race and Ethnicity

(course syllabus)

14S, 15W, 16S: 11

In this course we start from the premise that racial and ethnic distinctions are a social construction. Students will explore how race matters by interpreting their own identity and experiences through the lens of a social scientist, examining interpersonal and institutional forms of racism and their consequences, and discover prospects for change in the future. Students are required to interpret class readings, perform short critical writing responses, evaluate others' work, facilitate and participate in class discussion, and write one 5-7 page essay, and one 8-10 page research paper. Dist: SOC; WCult: W. Walton.

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FS: This Generation

(course syllabus)

Not offered in the period from 13F to 15S

Your generation is unique. Your life has been shaped by unprecedented historical events and social forces. Technology has transformed your daily interactions. Your future is more connected to global possibilities. Because you are immersed in your generation, it is difficult to fully understand. This class will use research, writing and discussion to help you develop your own perspective on your generation.  Goodman.

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FS: Poverty in the US

Not currently offered

Approximately one in eight Americans live in poverty and more than one in six children are poor. This reality seems very distant, though, from within the Dartmouth bubble. This course will explore poverty in the United States from a variety of perspectives. We will discuss such questions as: How do we measure proverty? How has the poverty rate changed over time? What are the possible causes of poverty in the US? How does the experience of poverty vary under different circumstances? How is poverty portrayed in the media? What are the major anti-poverty policy programs? The course will explore poverty both nationally and in the local context. Students may pursue a service-learning option, using community service work as the basis for one or more of the class assignments. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Hollister.

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FS: Healthcare in the US

Not currently offered

This course examines the health care system in the United States, focusing in particular on how health care institutions and providers are organized to practice medicine and deliver health care. We will begin the course by examining the historical development of medicine, and its relationship to both disease and broader social changes. We will examine the organizational structure of the current health care "system" in the U.S. We will also explore social differences in health and access to health care for various groups in society. Finally we will examine recent policy changes and debates about reforming health care in the U.S.  Anthony.

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FS: Stratification

16W: 2  Houle.