Introductory Courses

There are two introductory-level courses in sociology: Sociology 1 (Introduction to Sociology) and Sociology 2 (Social Problems). Each provides a broad overview of issues that many sociologists—not to mention the general public—find fascinating. These include, for example, social inequality, political corruption, crime, deviance, and racism, among others. Both courses also examine the underlying causes of these things.

In addition, both courses pay attention to how we might think about handling and resolving some of these issues as a society. Each course is designed primarily for students curious about sociology but who have not previously taken a sociology course. Of course, others are also welcome.

1. Introductory Sociology

(course syllabus)

How have societies developed historically? How are societies stratified by wealth, income, and other resources, and how has this changed over time? How are the opportunities and outlooks of individuals shaped by the communities in which they reside? How do individuals come together to produce meaningful social change? This course provides answers to these and other questions in ways that provide a broad introduction to the field of sociology. We will cover how sociologists and other social scientists conduct research, key theories and concepts that guide the discipline, and explore a wide range of topics including race, class, gender, inequality, collective action and social change. In many cases, the topics covered in the course reflect the research interests and course offerings of faculty in the sociology department at Dartmouth. As a result, the course  also provides an introduction to some of the curriculum offered in the department. Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

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2. Social Problems

(course syllabus)

Daily news reports direct much of our attention to social problems such as crime, poverty, prejudice and political corruption. Yet rarely are such reports accompanied by a discussion of the systematic causes of these problems. More often we become witness to an endless stream of media coverage reporting seemingly isolated incidents. Seldom are we informed of the decision-making process by which some social problems become selected for cover­age, while others are ignored. The purpose of this course is to subject the coverage of mod­ern social problems to an in-depth, critical analysis. We will attempt to answer such questions as: "how does a social problem become defined as such?" and "what are the causes or sources of various social problems?" Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: W. 

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