Course Descriptions

All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.
Course Numbers are Pending Approval

Introductory Course

Seminar in Applied and Public Sociology - SOCI 501 (Offered Yearly)

An introduction to the content and scope of applied and public sociology. Class includes discussions with practicing sociologists from academic and applied settings.


Research Methods - SOCI 502 (Offered Yearly)

This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to conduct social science research. Students will be introduced to the theory and logic of research, the ethics that guide the research process, and to a range of research methods employed in the social sciences including interviews, surveys, participant observations, and experiments.

Quantitative Analysis - SOCI 503 (Offered Yearly)

This course is designed to provide students with knowledge and skills to conduct quantitative research using social science data. Students will apply statistical techniques to develop and test research hypotheses using a statistical software program. Students will learn how to create and manage a quantitative dataset as well as how to produce and interpret univariate and multivariate statistics such as t-tests, ANOVAs, and regression models.

The Social Landscape: Place, Space and Society - SOCI 504 (Offered Yearly)

This course examines relationships between social systems and their environments across the landscape. Students will be introduced to socio-spatial theories and techniques to map and analyze social, political and environmental patterns with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). These techniques along with social theories of spatial processes will be applied to current policy studies such as community quality of life, segregation, housing policy, suburban sprawl, and sustainable development.

Population - SOCI 508 (Offered Every Other Year)

This course examines population processes and shows how population change is tied to social conditions, political policies, and economic dynamics. The course has three major content areas. Part I, The Demographic Perspective, introduces the field of demography, basic demographic concepts, and major theories of population change. Part II, Population Processes, introduces the three vital demographic processes- mortality, fertility and migration. Part III, Population Structure, examines the social organization of populations such as cohort structures, life course transitions, and family structure. In each content area, special emphasis is placed on the interrelationship between population change and social policy.

Qualitative Methods - SOCI 523 (Offered Irregularly, Cross-Listed with CIQR)

Qualitative methods explores the research traditions, data gathering techniques and methods for analyzing data in qualitative research. The course covers the logic of qualitative research, its applicability to policy analysis, and the dominant research traditions of symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, phenomenology as well as critical approaches like Marxism, feminism and action research. Students learn about specific methods such as participant and naturalistic conversation, in-depth interviews, and various ways of analyzing texts and conversations as well as methods for analyzing data and presenting it.

Theory and Practice of Conflict Resolution - SOCI 532 (Offered Irregularly)

This course combines theory and praxis by teaching different approaches to conflict resolution (e.g. interest-based mediation and negotiation, transformative mediation, arbitration, etc.) and providing practical training and skills.

Program Planning and Evaluation - SOCI 543 (Cross Listed with GREV 501)

An overview of evaluation models, theory, and techniques for conducting program evaluations. Content includes: measuring variables; reporting evaluation findings; using the results; and relationships among policy, planning, and evaluation.

Proposal and Grant Writing - SOCI 547 (Cross Listed with GREV 502)

Students are provided an overview of the process of identifying funding sources, receiving, and responding to Requests for Proposals. Content includes: resources for locating funding sources, including electronic resources; requests for proposals, parts of a grant proposal, writing and submitting proposals, budget planning and justification.

Introduction to Advanced Methods - SOCI 599 (Two courses per year)

These 1 ½ credit courses provide short introductions to advanced methods used by professional sociologists.

  • Community Based Research: This mini- class will cover methods and principles initiating action for community change by involving community members in the design.
  • Network Analysis: Explores mathematical methods in sociology and anthropology to map and analyze network connections among people, place, and organizations.
  • Advanced Multivariate Analysis: This mini-class builds on the Soci 503 class to explore advanced topics in multivariate analysis.
  • Interviewing & Focus Groups: Builds on Soci 502 to cover methods and issues in applied qualitative research.
  • Field Methods: Builds on Soci 523 to cover methods and issues in qualitative field research.
  • Survey Sampling and Questionnaire Design: Builds on Soci 502 to cover methods and issues in survey research.
  • Visual Sociological Methods: Explores qualitative visual analysis methods drawn from sociology, photojournalism, anthropology, and sociology.

Applied Theory

Organizational Theory - SOCI 522 (Offered Yearly)

This course reviews the major theoretical perspectives on social organization. Field research on some aspect of contemporary life in public and/or private organizations is part of the course requirement.

Theories of Conflict - SOCI 531 (Offered Irregularly)

This class examines major theories of conflict. Emphasis is on the need for theories to inform our ability to resolve conflicts. The course blends findings from conventional disciplines of sociology, psychology, and counseling with new understandings being developed in research on deep-rooted conflicts. Analysis is a critical tool to be used in conflict resolution and societal transformation. This course includes interpersonal, group, as well as international conflicts, and war.

Social Policy and Theories of Multiculturalism - SOCI 560 (Offered Irregularly)

This course will dwell on how social and political theories grapple with the problem of differences in constructing democratic society. It will examine questions of political, class, gender, cultural and religious differences in this endeavor-since these are the most stringent forms of difference. Students will be able to articulate contemporary debates in theories of democracy, especially concerning the problem of "difference," and apply them to particular cases of policy implementation, and conflict/reconciliation.

Community and Social Justice

City Building and Public Policy - SOCI 510 (Every Other Year)

This course examines the development of US and other cities across the globe to understand urban problems and potential solutions to these problems through planned and unplanned development at the local, regional and national level.

Minorities and Public Policy - SOCI 516 (Every Other Year)

This course examines the historical evolution of American public policy toward minorities. This includes the legal/ constitutional changes, migratory patterns, social institutions and political mobilization. Contemporary problems and issues are evaluated within this context.

Nonviolent Social Change - SOCI 533 (Every Other Year)

This course focuses on the transformation of conflict through the use of nonviolence. It provides an overview of the spiritual, religious, and ethical roots of nonviolence as well as a number of historical examples of how it has been used as a strategy for social change. Emphasis is placed on the various sources of power in nonviolent change as well as methods of strategic non-cooperation that provide effective and pragmatic alternatives to violence.

Community Organizing and Social Movements - SOCI 534 (Every Other Year)

This course introduces students to the field of social movements. Particular emphasis is placed on the application of theoretical ideas to case studies in order to enhance our knowledge of community organization and social change. Organizing - whether it is on a local, national, or international level brings people together to achieve their common interest and goals. The organizer faces a variety of tasks: recruiting participants, mobilizing resources, building community, planning strategies, assessing the political climate and conditions, and ultimately implementing collective action. In addition, an effective organizer must find ways to sustain motivation during setbacks, to address problems of repression and internal disputes, to overcome obstacles to mobilization and to productively deal with the media. This class covers social science theories that inform these skills.

Family and Policy -  SOCI 540 (Every Other Year)

The family is a critical and enduring institution in our society which represents '"private life." Yet much of our social and public policy has a significant impact on the private domain of family. It is this collision of the private and public that makes the family such a significant target for public debate and an interesting exploration for the arena of policy. This course examines the still-developing arena of family policy through a mix of readings, exercises and class presentations.

Criminal Justice and Society

Correctional Policy and Practice - SOCI 509 (Offered Irregularly)

In this course we examine the methods and motives of punishing criminals. In addition, we investigate the history of correctional policy and practice including probation, community corrections, jail and prison. How and by whom these agencies and facilities are administered and organized is examined and the social policy implications are discussed. The system is studied from the multiple perspectives of parole and correctional officers and offenders.

Criminology - SOCI 517 (Offered Irregularly)

This course examines images, assumptions and explanations of crime and criminality, and then disentangles the facts from the fictions, which contributes to scientific understanding of crime. In this process, we study the implications of these models for public and social policy.

Criminal Justice Policy - SOCI 521 (Offered Irregularly)

This course acquaints students with the stages of the criminal justice system from police investigation through arrest, charging, adjudication, sentencing and punishment. Topics addressed will be the history of the system, its effectiveness, the rights of suspects, defendants and the convicted at different stages of the process. The impact of law on practice, and the interrelationship among the parts of the system at various decision points will also be topics of interest.

Health and Gerontology

Aging and Mental Health Policy - SOCI 511 (Offered Irregularly)

The United States and many other societies are rapidly aging populations. This course examines age-related mental health issues and policy dynamics in aging societies. Some study focus is directed toward Alzheimer's disease, other dementias, and late lite depression, their nature as well as social and public policies developed relevant to such mental illnesses. Social and public policies enhancing mental health in later lite are explored.

Health, Illness and Social Policy - SOCI 515 (Every Other Year)

This course considers the major health and illness issues and policy concerns apparent in American society and the global community. Students are involved in research on the outcomes (identifiable or probable) of current or proposed policy responses to such health and illness issues.

Healthcare Ethics And Public Policy - SOCI 541 (Offered Irregularly)

This course considers moral theory, critical thinking as the basis for ethical reasoning, the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients, abortion and maternal-fetal conflicts, genetic engineering, reproductive technologies and closing, human and animal experimentation, organ transplantation, euthanasia and end of life decisions, HIV and AIDS, and challenges in healthcare policy and reform. The course also looks at how our public policies affect and should affect our struggle for equitable practices in healthcare. Case studies, memoirs, and documentaries supplement the introductory text.

Religion, Politics and Policy - SOCI 573 (Offered Irregularly)

A study of timely issues in religion, politics, and public policy that reveals both the crucial interrelationship of these areas as well as unique aspects of each.

Capstone Courses

MA students will complete either a Community Research Practicum or a Thesis. Community Research Practicum will be a team project offered in conjunction with a community partner. This practicum will be offered every other year, depending upon demand from students and community partners. The thesis will be offered each semester. Certificate students will complete their certification through an onsite project with a community organization.

Thesis - SOCI 700 (Offered Each Semester)

MA Capstone option that entails an individual research project involving a research design, analysis, and completion of a report or article length document and public presentation. Each thesis will have two faculty readers.

Community Research Practicum - SOCI 598 (Every Other Year)

MA or Certificate Capstone option that entails a team research project under the guidance of a faculty member and in partnership with a community organization

Fieldwork - SOCI 550  (Offered Each Semester)

Certificate Capstone that entails an individual project onsite with a community partner under the guidance of a faculty member.