Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval

Department or Program:                                  Sociology/Social Work
Course Number:                                                216
Semester Hours:                                                3
Frequency of Offering:                                    Every semester
Course Title:                                                      Social Problems
Catalog Description:                                        The nature, characteristics and proposed solutions for
                                                                             selected social problems. Recommended prerequisite:
                                                                             Soc. 150. Grade only. Offered every semester.

This is an existing course previously
approved by A2C2:                                           Yes

This is a new course proposal:                        No

Proposal Category:                                            Arts and Sciences Core:
                                                                                  Social Science

Departmental Contact:                                      James R. Reynolds, X 5426

Email:                                                                   JReynolds@vax2.winona

Approval/Disapproval Recommendations:   (Form is attached)


Social Science Outcomes

1. Understand humans as individuals and as parts of larger social systems.
Understanding individual behavior through interaction with the larger social system, is a primary focus of
sociology as a discipline. Whether addressing problems such as crime, poverty, sexism, or education, human behavior
is the product of individual learning within the context of social systems (groups, communities, institutions, culture)
with which they interact. Each of the selected social problems will include this focus in the assigned reading,
lecture/discussion, and accompanying activities. For example family and courtship violence must be understood in
terms of the patterns of behavior that describe the individual aggressor as well as the associations and group experiences
(e.g., the cycle of abuse within families) that contributed to learning aggression as a means of interacting within intimate


2. Understand the historical context of the social sciences.
The historical context of the social sciences will be addressed within the discussion of theoretical frameworks used
in sociology (see #4 below). Classical and contemporary sociological theories are discussed in the text and will be reviewed in lecture/discussion in order to provide a basic understanding of the historical development of sociology as applied to the study
of social problems. For example, a discussion of the functionalist perspective on crime enables a brief consideration of one of the
classical theorists and founders of modern sociology, Emile Durkheim and his views of the functional features of crime and devian
as well as the historical foundations of sociological theories of crime.


3. Identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience
               Assigned reading, lecture/discussion and class activities will provide ample opportunity for students to identify problems
and frame research questions. For example, one or more exercises on hypothesis testing (see #5 below and the attached syllabus)
will provide experience with framing, testing and drawing conclusions about research questions related to selected social problems.

4. Become familiar with the process of theory-building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences.
Students will become familiar with the three major theoretical frameworks in sociology -- structural functionalism theory,
conflict theory and symbolic interactionism theory, and more specific theories within each framework in three different ways. First,
assigned reading in the text, outlines the historical origins and basic dimensions of these theories and provides examples. Second,
classroom lecture and discussion will expand on these theories. Third and finally, a in-class exercises and small and large group
discussions (e.g., see attached syllabus items II.B and IV.B) will enable students to apply these theories to real and hypothetical
situations. Once learned, these theoretical frameworks will be used throughout the course to understand a range of social problems
selected for study, thus providing continuity throughout the course. Each of the five examinations in the course will include questions regarding the application of these theories to understanding human behavior, thus providing a measure of the student’s understanding
of these theories.

5. Understand research methods used in the social sciences.
Students will develop a cognitive understanding of social science research methods by first reading the assigned text,
in which are discussed the primary social science research designs and methods used to study human behavior. Second, the
reading will be supplemented by one or more classroom lecture/demonstrations throughout the semester (see "Hypothesis
Testing Exercises" in the attached syllabus) involving computer analysis of secondary data based on Carter, Analyzing
hypotheses (i.e., frame research questions), interpret data, draw conclusions and offer explanations for research questions
posed by the instructor in the classroom demonstration. Third, an optional service learning project in the course (see syllabus)
will enable the student to employ field observation (one of the primary research designs) as a means of applying course content to
the understanding of human behavior. A written paper will be submitted based on the students’ service learning experience. Fourth
and finally, current research on selected social will be discussed throughout the course.

6. Describe and detail discipline-specific knowledge and its applications.
Sociological theory, research and policy implications will be addressed primarily in the assigned reading and lecture/
discussions for each of the selected social problems in the course (see attached syllabus). This outcome is an obvious and
major focus of the course, and will be assessed largely through in-class examinations. A bibliography of additional reading
of sociological relevance to each selected topic in the course is found following each chapter in the required text.

7. Understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience.
A fundamental idea in the sociology of social problems is social problems arise due to differences in social values
(beliefs). For example, as the text for the course makes clear, society is made up of different categories (strata or layers) of
people who share common characteristics like income, education and occupation. People in different strata (e.g., someone
earning $100,000 per year and living in an affluent suburb) experience the same social problems, for example problems of ghetto
life (e.g., poverty, crime, prejudice), differently and propose different solutions than people who live in the ghetto
(Kornblum and Julian, Social Problems. 9th ed. N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1998, p. 16). Understanding differences among human
experiences as well as the commonalties that exist, is a theme that is developed for each topic considered in the course.


Student Syllabus

SP216; F Sem., 2001
Rev. F2001

Sociology 216, Social Problems
Syllabus (Fall Semester, 2001)
Section .01: MWF, 9:00-9:50 a.m., Minne 240
University Studies Course (Arts & Science Core: Social Science)

Instructor: James R. Reynolds                                              E-Mail:

Office: Minne Hall 231                                                                  Office Phone: 457-5426 (voice mail is available)

Office Hours:

Monday through Friday, 10-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m. and by appointment. There will be times due to unexpected appointments or other obligations, when I will be unable to keep my normally scheduled office hours; a note to this effect will be posted on my office door. Students are encouraged to make appointments when in need of assistance.

Course Description:

The WSU Catalog contains the following course description: "The nature, characteristics and proposed solutions for selected social problems. Recommended prerequisite: Sociology 150, Human Society." NOTE: This course is an approved University Studies course that meets the Arts and Sciences: Social Science core requirements.


Course Goals:

The following University Studies: Social Science Outcomes are reflected in and help guide the content, activities and assessments in this course. Other course subgoals, appearing under each University Studies outcome, are goals associated with the B.A. Sociology Program Assessment Plan, and will help to further define the content and activities in the course, especially for current and prospective sociology majors.


University Studies: Social Science Outcomes:

1. Understand humans as individuals and as parts of larger social systems.
             Subgoal:  To understand human deviance and soical problems and explain how these emerge using sociological concepts such as   culture, social structure and social change. This subgoal will be measured by student performance on in-class examinations and writing assignments.

2. Understand the historical context of the social sciences.
3. Identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience.
            Subgoal: (See #5 below)
4. Become familiar with the process of theory-building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences.
           Subgoal: To define the functionalist, conflict and symbolic interactionist theories in sociology and apply the theories to the explanation and solution of selected social problems. This subgoal will be measured by performance on in-class examinations and writing exercises
5. Understand research methods used in the social sciences.
          Subgoal: Demonstrate familiarity with constructing research hypotheses, interpreting data and drawing appropriate conclusions using social science research data. This subgoal will be measured on in-class examinations and by performance on in-class and out-of-class assignments involving the analysis of secondary data (see Carter reference).
6. Describe and detail discipline-specific knowledge and its applications.
          Subgoal: To apply the sociological perspective to explaining the nature, extent, causes and proposed solutions to the social problems considered in class. This subgoal will be measured by performance on in-class examinations.
7. Understand differences among and commonalities across humans and their experience
         Subgoal To define one's values (including differences and commonalities) regarding the consequences of social inequality in U.S. society based on, for example, race, class, gender and age. This subgoal will be measured by student performance on in-class examinations and writing exercises.


Required: William Kornblum and Joseph Julian, Social Problems. 10th edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001
Recommended: 1. Study Guide (to accompany Kornblum and Julian's text). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001
2. Gregg Lee Carter, Analyzing Contemporary Social Issues. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.


Course Requirements:

1. Attendance:
Just as you expect me to attend class each day, I expect you to do the same. Regular attendance is the only sure way of making certain you obtain, in your own unique way, an understanding of what transpires in class each day.

Should you miss class, it will be your responsibility to notify the instructor in advance of your absence, and to obtain the information missed from one of your classmates. Do not ask the instructor to repeat material missed due to your absence.


2. Grading:

Grades will be determined on the basis of percentage rather than curve. Percentage grading encourages cooperation among students in preparing for an examination or other form of evaluation since one's grade is based on achieving a set percentage of points rather than being based on who received the highest possible score. Students will find that one value that permeates this class is collaborative rather than competitive learning; we learn more that way!

The grade percentages to be used in this class are as follows:

A= 90% >
B= 80% - 89%
C= 70%-79%
E= 59% or below

Decimals will be rounded to the nearest percentage point at the end of the semester when assigning the course grade. Course grades will be based on the following activities:

Test 1.............................10% (on or near F, September 14)

Test 2.............................20% (on or near W, October 3)

Test 3.............................20% (on or near W, October 24)

Test 4.............................20% (on or near F, November 16)

Test 5....(final)............20% (T, December 11, 8-10 a.m.)

Active learning
          exercises........ 5% (at least five during the term)

Class Participation... 5% (combined student and instructor rating)


3. Examinations:

There will be five (5) multiple choice examinations covering the text and in-class lectures, discussions and other activities. Each exam will cover only the material indicated in the course outline for that exam. Prior to each examination a review session including study guidelines will be provided and approximate percentages of exam questions covering the text and in-class activities identified. Students should meet with their study groups and come to the review session prepared with specific questions they have on any material over which they will be examined.

Students must notify the instructor in advance if they are unable to be present for an examination. Make-up examinations will be available only to those who have a valid and verifiable reason for missing the earlier examination.

All examination scores and cumulative totals will be posted on the bulletin board inside the classroom. Scores will be posted by your student identification number. Students not wishing to have their scores posted in this fashion may see the instructor individually for their scores.


4. Active Learning Exercises:

Occasionally, there will be in-class and out-of-class exercises and assignments designed to accomplish several different objectives. Sometimes, for example, I will ask you to assess a particular feature of the class, explain your understanding of a specific concept, develop a logical argument on some issue, react to or apply an idea from the reading, hypothesize and interpret some sociological data, or, identify things that need further clarification in class. I may ask you to share your thinking and writing with the entire class, a small group or just with me. These unannounced active learning exercises on occasion will be graded, but at the least, those participating will receive credit on the day of the exercise or assignment. No make-ups will be allowed for active learning exercises. Active learning exercises will constitute 5% of your course grade.


5. Class Participation

Your learning in this class will be greatly influenced by the extent to which you and your classmates become actively involved with one another and the instructor. This means daily attendance, contributing regularly to small and large group discussions, and participating in all activities scheduled in class.

Students will be asked to self-assess their level of participation in class, at the end of the course, on a 0 (no participation) to 5% (high participation) scale, and submit their proposed score to the instructor for consideration. The final score for class participation will be based on a combination of your estimate and the instructor's judgment of your contributions to the class.

6. Optional Volunteer Community Service Project (U.S.:SS Outcomes: 1, 3,5,6,7)

Students may elect to participate in a volunteer community service project and substitute the score received for one (1) of the five tests of their choosing that are scheduled in this course. Students are expected to complete fifteen (15) clock hours of volunteer community service and maintain a journal that relates their experiences, observations and conclusions to content in the course. Students wishing to pursue this option must submit for approval, in writing, by Friday, September 14, their name, the organization in which community service is proposed and a brief statement about the volunteer service to be provided. Community service that is unapproved in advance by the instructor will not receive credit in the course. Further details of this opportunity will be provided in a separate handout.


Course Outline, Reading List and Exam Schedule:
Note: U.S.: S.S. Outcomes refer to the University Studies: Arts and Sciences Core: Social Sciences Outcomes

August 27
I. Class Organization and Expectations (No reading)

August 29, 31, September 5, 7, 10, 12
Note: There is no class on M, Sept. 3, Labor Day observance.

II. Introduction: Historical and Contemporary Sociological Perspectives on Social Problems -- Chapter 1 (U.S.:SS Outcomes: 1-7)

A. Defining Social Problems
      Activity:  The Social Construction of Social Problems ( In-class assignment and demonstraton:
                        U.S.:SS   Outcomes #1, 7)

B. Theoretical Perspectives on Social Problems: The Functionalist Perspective, The Conflict Perspective, and The       Symbolic Interactionist Perspective (U.S.:SS Outcomes #2, 6)
     Activity: Applying the Three Theoretical Perspectives (In-class assignment and small and large group
                     discussion; U.S.:SS Outcomes #4)

                          C. Research Methods in Social Science (U.S.:SS Outcomes #3, 5)
                              Activity: Hypothesis Testing Demonstration and Exercise (U.S.:SS Outcome #3, 5)

                           D. Social Problems and Social Policy


TEST 1 (on or near F, September 14)

September 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, October 1
III. Individual Deviance: Crime and Violence -- Chapters 6 and 7 (U.S.:SS Outcomes 1-7)
                            A. Crime Theory and Social Policy: Functionalist and Interactionist Theories, Research and Social Policies
                                 (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
                                 a. Video and small and large group discussion: "Wilding"(U.S.: S.S. Outcomes #1, 7)
                                 b. Hypothesis Testing Exercise: Crime, Deviance and Social Control (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 3, 5)

                             B. Family, Dating and Courtship Violence (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes #1, 6, 7)
                                 Activity: Video and large group discussion: "Dating and Courtship Violence"


TEST 2 (on or near W, October 3)

October 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22
Note: There is no class on F, Oct. 5 -– Student Break Day.
IV. Inequality and Discrimination: Poverty and Prejudice/Discrimination (Racism) --
Chapters 8 and 9 (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1-7)
                          A. Poverty and Inequality (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 1,3,4,5,6,7)
                               Activity: Hypothesis Testing Exercise: Is It Government’s Role to Reduce
                                               Income Differences Between Rich and Poor? (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes #3, 5)

B. Prejudice and Discrimination (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes #1,3,4,6,7)
Activity: Structural Inequality Exercise (In-class activity and writing exercise;
                 U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 1,4,6,7)

TEST 3 (on or near W, October 24)

October 26, 29, 31 Nov. 2, 5, 7, 9, 14
Note:  There is no class on M, November 12, Veteran's Day observance
V. Inequality and Discrimination: Sexism and Ageism -- Chapters 10 and 11 (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1-7
                        A. Ideology and Inequality: Sexism (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 1,3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
                             a. Video and large group discussion: "The Mommy Track" (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes (1, 6, 7)
                              b. "Beauty" in Its Temporal Context: In-class demonstration and discussion (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes: 1,3,6,7)
                              b.   Hypothesis Testing Exercise: "Sex Differences in Income" (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 3, 5)

                        B. Ideology and Inequality: Ageism (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 1,3, 4, 6, 7)
                             a. Stereotypes of the Aged (In-class exercise and large-group discussion; U.S.: S.S. Outcomes #1, 7)
                             b. Video and large group discussion: "Age Discrimination: No Gray Areas" ( U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1, 6, 7)

TEST 4 (on or near F, November 16)

November 19, 26, 28, 30
Note: No class on W, Nov. 22 and F, Nov. 24 -- Thanksgiving observance
VI. Problems of Social Institutions: Education -- Chapter 13 (U.S.:SS Outcomes 1-7)
      A. Problems in Education: Functionalist and Interactionist Perspectives U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
            a. Video and large group discussion: "The Crisis in Education"
            b. Social Norms and Classroom Structure Exercise (In-class exercise and large-group discussion (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 1,6,7)

      B. Stratification and the Schooling Process (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
           Activity: Hypothesis Testing Exercise: "Predicting Minority Success in School -– Individual and Contextual Factors"
                            (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes # 3, 5)

December 3, 5, 7
VII.  Global Problems:  Technology and the Environment Chapter 17
        (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1-7)
         A. Technological Dualism and Cultural Lag (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1, 6, 7)
         B. Is the Environment Improving? (U.S.: S.S. Outcomes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7)
         Activity: Video and large group discussion: "Welcome to Hell"

VIII. Conclusion: Social Problems, Social Theory and Social Policy

TEST 5 (FINAL EXAM: T, December 11, 8-10 a.m.)