Featured Courses

These are among more than 120 innovative, popular courses and seminars that the Department of Sociology offers.
SOC 3 Honors - Social Problems: Debt, Inequality & the American Dream
Debt is among the central social problems of our times. For most people, it’s mostly a private problem – we don’t like to talk about debt. But recently it also has become a public problem. This is especially true in the United States, where indebtedness is a major topic in debates over the fate of the American Dream. But debt is not just an American thing: the growth of personal, household and government (public) debt is very much a global phenomenon. This course introduces students to the study of social problems through an exploration of public and private debt. It aims to help students develop a historical understanding on the relationship between debt and financial institutions, the growth of debt of all forms, the relationship between debt and inequality, and the political and social implications of debt. A major aim of the course is to help students contextualize debt and experiences of debt in a broad historical perspective, and to think more critically about its causes and consequences.
SOC 185Y - Social Policy
This upper-division course examines the welfare state –government social policies that affect the welfare of individuals, families and groups. Such policies include workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, old-age insurance, public assistance to people who are disabled or poor, health insurance, sickness and maternity leave, family and child allowances, child care, labor market policy, tax policy and macroeconomic policy. The course is conducted in hybrid format, composed of in-person and online sessions.
SOC 195 - Total Institutions
This course explores Goffman's concept of the total institution: a walled-off facility housing inmates en masse, who as a result undergo abrupt, patterned changes in identity. We will interrogate this concept in light of real-life examples: prisons, mental hospitals and military barracks, with the bulk of the course focusing on life in prison. We conclude the course with a voluntary field trip to a state prison, where we walk the yard, tour cells, and meet with inmates.