VCU Sociology Spring 2021 Course Offerings
Continuing from Fall 2020, the university is offering a number of ‘course modalities’ in order to help students navigate the diversity instructional approaches given the ongoing circumstances of COVID-19. Students can find descriptions of these new modes at https://rar.vcu.edu/registration/coursemodality/.
Please pay extra attention to special course requirements noted under the new Banner 9 student course listings. Some courses may require specific technical requirements. Generally, all students are expected to have reliable internet access. Students in need of computer hardware and stable internet for the Spring 2021 semester can utilize resources provided by VCU, including: home network troubleshooting and computer/internet access support.
- Hybrid-flexible synchronous -
- SOCY.370.001 - Media and Society - Volkan Aytar
- SOCY.441.001 - Sociology of Emotions - Zachary Goodell
- Online-asynchronous -
- SOCY.101.001 - Introduction To Sociology - Mark Plume
- SOCY.101.002 - Introduction To Sociology - Volkan Aytar
- SOCY.101.003 - Introduction To Sociology - Volkan Aytar
- SOCY.101.005 - Introduction To Sociology - Travis Williams
- SOCY.101.006 - Introduction To Sociology - Travis Williams
- SOCY.101.007 - Introduction To Sociology - Meredith Katz
- SOCY.101.010 - Introduction To Sociology - Mark Plume
- SOCY.101.011 - Introduction To Sociology - Meredith Katz
- SOCY.305.001 - African American Family in Social Context - Laura Boutwell
- SOCY.327.001 - Urban Sociology - Laura Boutwell
- SOCY.333.001 - Gender in Society - Christine Mowery
- SOCY.336.001 - Violence Against Women - Gay Cutchin
- SOCY.391.001 - Topics: Data Visualization - Brian Knop
- SOCS.303.001 - Marriage & Family Relationships - Gay Cutchin
- SOCS.340.001 - Human Sexuality - Erika Carpenter
- SOCS.340.002 - Human Sexuality - Erika Carpenter
- Online-synchronous -
- SOCY.101.008 - Introduction To Sociology - Zachary Goodell
- SOCY.101.009 - Introduction To Sociology - Zachary Goodell
- SOCY.202.001 - Foundations Of Theory - Christine E Mowery
- SOCY.202.002 - Foundations Of Theory - Christine E Mowery
- SOCY.202.003 - Foundations Of Theory - Volkan Aytar
- SOCY.302.902 - Contemporary Social Problems - Karen Rosenblum
- SOCY.304.901 - Sociology of the Family - Christine E Mowery
- SOCY.310.001 - Social Movements & Conflict - Travis L Williams
- SOCY.320.001 - Research Methods In Social Science - Gabriela Leon-Perez
- SOCY.320.002 - Research Methods In Social Science - Gabriela Leon-Perez
- SOCY.322.001 - Sociology Of Race & Ethnicity - Travis L Williams
- SOCY.330.901 - Global Societies: Trends and Issues - Ewell D Mthethwa
- SOCY.335.001 - Sociology of Masculinities - Ying-Chao Kao
- SOCY.391.901 - Topics: Sociology of Contemplative Practices - Ewell D Mthethwa
- SOCY.391.902 - Topics: Forging Cultural Resilience - Ewell D Mthethwa
- SOCY.402.001 - Contemporary Theory - Tara M Stamm
- SOCY.402.901 - Contemporary Theory - Tara M Stamm
- SOCY.406.001 - Sociology Senior Seminar - Meredith Katz
- SOCY.406.002 - Sociology Senior Seminar - Victor Chen
- SOCY.406.003 - Sociology Senior Seminar - Ying-Chao Kao
- SOCY.446.001 - Sociology of Mental Disorder - Susan Marie Bodnar-Deren
- SOCS.340.003 - Human Sexuality - Daphne Rankin
- HUMS.291.001 - Confronting Climate Crisis - Jesse Goldstein & Kai Bosworth
Spring 2021 Elective Descriptions
An introduction to the study of human society. The basic concepts of society and culture and their relationships to each other are studied and then used to analyze the major social institutions.
Prerequisite: SOCY 101. An introduction to classical theoretical traditions that have guided sociological work. Classical theorists whose writings have shaped the discipline will be studied, including Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, W.E.B. Du Bois and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This course also traces the historical development of the discipline of sociology during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
This course is designed to provide you with a broad framework by which to understand the nature and origin of some of the social problems experienced in the United States, as well as the philosophical and value debates that underlie those problems. Although the U.S. will be our primary focus, we will also consider issues globally. By the end of the course, you should understand why the U.S. experiences the kinds of social problems that it does, what progress on these would entail, and how that progress might be achieved.
This course is designed to give you a sociological understanding of American family life. This sociological perspective will provide you with an opportunity to look at something familiar (the family) in a new way. We will focus on the family as a social institution—a set of structured social arrangements for meeting certain human needs—and we will examine the larger social forces that shape this institution. Attention will also be paid to the diversity in family form and how family experience is shaped by race, ethnicity, social class, gender and sexual orientation. The family is a dynamic social entity rather than a static one, and the American family is currently undergoing transformations. To better understand these changes, recent sociological research and data on the family will be utilized in this course. By the end of the semester, you should be able to place your own personal experience of families in a larger social context and be able to analyze contemporary family issues sociologically. You should also have knowledge of the diversity of family forms in the United States, as well as the major trends and explanations of family change in the U.S.
Cross-listed as SOCY 305 / AFAM 305 / GSWS 305. A socio-historical examination of the development of the family system of Americans from Africa. Focuses on large-scale (macro-level) processes such as changes in the major mode of economic production and in political systems and the corresponding changes in black family structure and functioning. Presents the theoretical material on African-American families and social changes that prepares students for further study of the family as a social institution and for the study of family policy.
This course explores the organization and sociological study of Social Movements and their relationship to social inequality and societal transformation. Some of the movements we examine include but are not limited to anti-racism social movements, LGBTQIA social movements, and environmental social movements. We will be looking at how these movements have been organized and executed as well as how they have been studied by sociologists and other social scientists.
This course examines how race and racism shape the political economy of our society. Race and racism are a major vehicle for organizing where we live, how we live, and how well we will live. The course is very U.S.-centric. It spans the development of the idea of "race" as an assumption that gives meaning to racial categories. It quickly moves into the post-World War II era where covert practices of racial discrimination are ascendant. Finally, the course deals with how race and racism are transmuting in digital society. The course uses a lot of case studies, is a reading and writing-intensive course, and is a complement to other department offerings in inequality as well as courses across the college in difference and justice.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of urban society. We will examine the development of cities (historical), the rise of cities (modern), and the contemporary conditions of cities. We will utilize our sociological perspective and our cultural tool kits to examine the spatial (build environment) and social interaction of people in cities. Topics covered include classic urban sociological theories, post-industrial urban economies, urban social networks, suburbanization, segregation, poverty, crime, subcultures, schooling, and public policy. The course will focus on U.S. cities with selected comparisons to Western Europe. The course assumes no background in urban sociology, but basic knowledge of classic sociological theory (Marx, Weber, Durkheim) and basic social science methods would be helpful.
Cross-listed as SOCY 330/INTL 330: Global Societies. South Africa and the United States are like "two trains running," to borrow the title of one drama created by America's great playwright, August Wilson. These two countries occasionally traveled parallel historical tracks, arriving at the same station at the same time. At other moments one of these countries raced ahead while the other stalled. This course explores the two side-by-side national journeys, focusing on the comparative processes shaping 20th-century South Africa and the United States and their civil rights activism.
From the 1940s to 1970s, resistance movements opposing racial discrimination changed the schedule of the two trains, as activists in South Africa and the United States recognized that they shared experience in common: white supremacy. By the 1980s, sweeping protests against white-minority rule in South Africa had emerged in the United States, especially on campuses and in churches and outside legislatures. The demonstrators joined hands with fellow South Africans to oppose a transnational system of Jim Crow called Apartheid. Our seminar focuses on these remarkable moments of national and global social mobilization. We read memoirs and works of scholarship analyzing the paths of anti-racist struggles in both countries and develop research projects probing the extent to which freedom fighters in South Africa and the United States were able to create more inclusive and equitable societies.
This course critically explores the social construction of gender in contemporary society. From a sociological perspective, gender is viewed as the ways in which society organizes individuals into female and male categories and attaches meanings to those categories (meanings that change over time and across societies). We live in a society where gender is created, defined, and redefined on a daily basis. Throughout the semester, we will critically analyze how gender operates in various institutional settings, including the economy, the family, and the media. Fundamental to our exploration of gender will be an exploration of the ways one’s gendered experience is mediated by race, class, and sexual orientation. This course will allow you to relate your everyday gendered experiences to the course material, thereby illustrating how pervasive gender is in the way we organize our social life. We will additionally analyze how sexuality is shaped by social norms, values, and expectations, and thus, as with the concept of gender, socially constructed.
Examines the sociological theories and empirical studies of men and masculinities. Topics include the relational thinking of gender inequality, hegemonic masculinity, subordinated masculinities, inclusive masculinity, hybrid masculinity, toxic masculinity, female masculinity, and male femininity, and intersectional masculinities. Addresses the effects and mechanisms of masculinities in social settings, such as the workplace, family, marriage, intimacy, pop culture, politics, migration, globalization, and social movements, through empirical studies.
Cross-listed as SOCY 336/GSWS 336: Violence Against Women. This class provides an examination of violence against women from a global and a local perspective with a primary focus on violence against women in the United States. The course will address sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and sexual harassment. Much of the material will focus on violence in the lives of adult women. An examination of definitions, methodologies, interventions, and prevention will be included in this course. In terms of prevention, the role of men in the movement will be presented. While intimate partner and sexual violence perpetrated against men will be included in the course the focus will be on violence against women.
A survey of the organization and social impact of the major types of mass media. Potential topics include the media as socializing agents; the effect of media messages on cultural patterns and social values; the impact of technology on social behavior; the role of "audiences" in interpreting media content; political and economic influences on the media industry; and the media as an instrument of social change. The structure and functions of the media in different societies will be compared.
This course is specifically designed for students to learn to use data visualizations to understand and explain social phenomena. The goal of the course is to introduce students to data visualization, including both the principles and techniques. Students will learn how to present information in an understandable, effective and aesthetic manner for the purposes of explaining insights and messages found in the data. Students will learn how to create their own data visualizations using the software, Tableau.
In this course, we will examine (through reading, discussion, practice and guest lectures) a variety of contemplative practices and the potential these practices have in helping us develop sociological understanding of intersections between individuals and society. Specifically, how the emerging concept of sociological mindfulness: linking mindful awareness and other contemplative practices at the individual level to the “sociological imagination” in order to cultivate the wisdom needed to make positive social change. Throughout the course students will have the opportunity to practice a multitude of contemplation traditions.
The first half of the course introduces students to diverse and representative forms of contemplation from a global perspective. We will additionally analyze the rise of contemplative practices and examine the body of research on the efficacy of such practices. Including an assessment of the critical discourse that suggests how practices such a mindfulness have been commodified to further capitalist pursuits. In the second part of the course students will choose a specific form and tradition of contemplation to research and report how that specific practice plays and shapes various communities and traditions.
Using a Participatory Action Research framework, this service-learning class (requires 20 hours of service-learning project participation), links students from VCU, the Richmond Community and youth in Mphophomeni SA in a shared conversation, as they explore the nature of resilience in two communities affected by a historic transition from racial segregation to inclusive democracy. Both places share similar oppression and exclusion under slavery/Jim Crow and Apartheid; and resistance/triumph leading to the current post-Civil Right/post-Apartheid periods. However, for many, the full realization and promises of democracy remain unfulfilled, from isolation and food-deserts in Richmond’s east end to gripping poverty and constrained opportunity in SA townships and isolated homelands in KZN. The course and associated readings, discussions, and projects will facilitate a cross-cultural/multidisciplinary examination of social stratification, access, and opportunities in both nation-states. We hope that a shared and global dialogue, oriented to both the micro (individual realities/identity) and macro (democratic movements); inclusive of active learning practices (community engagement, reflection, and creative projects), will increase understanding and problem solving in a creative way. Our hope is that these active learning strategies and reflection will lead to deeper and new understandings of not only our histories and realities, but will also engender problem-solving, solutions, and the envisioning of a new and inclusive future that is both local and global. **Virtual options will be forthcoming to accommodate the current environment for the Spring semester.**
Prerequisites: SOCY 202 and SOCY 320, both with a minimum grade of C; and at least 21 credit hours in sociology. Course must be taken in the student's last 30 hours at VCU. Pre- or corequisite: SOCY 402. Senior capstone class; provides students the opportunity to synthesize, integrate and apply their sociological knowledge and skills.
Exploration of the sociological forces that shape the way we define our emotions, how we communicate through emotions -- both explicitly and implicitly -- and how our emotions are guided by sociocultural norms. Attention will also be paid to the regulation of human emotions in terms of culture, gender, occupation, and interpersonal relationships.
A survey of selected social, economic, cultural, and social psychological factors in mental health and illness. Such problems as defining mental illness; social factors in the distribution, diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of mental disorders; mental illness as a social role; and research methods used in the sociology of mental illness will be considered.
This course will explore the relationship between the family, society, and how the institutions of marriage and the family have adapted to fulfill the needs of an ever-changing social structure. This course will make you more aware of the personal choices you make and how those choices are affected by the social structure around you; also you will gain a better understanding of yourself, your particular family situation, and romantic lives.
A study of the variety of the forms, sources and consequences of human sexual behaviors and the attitudes, beliefs and values associated with them. The data and its analysis are directed to the significance of sex in the human experience.
(Please note, does not count as Sociology Elective Credit, but will be co-taught by Sociology faculty Dr. Jesse Goldstein).
The climate crisis is a complex global problem, with terrifying implications for all living things on this planet. However, a perception that climate crisis is too complex can prevent meaningful action. This course will empower students to confront the root causes of the climate crisis today, by developing an understanding of the social, political, and cultural dimensions of global climate change. We will investigate some of the main axes of debate among political activists and organizations around the world seeking to produce a more just life and planet for humans and nonhumans alike. Although we will discuss the basic scientific parameters of climate change and its connections to food, water, energy, ecology, and urbanism, our primary focus will be on strategies being explored (and fought for) to transform these systems. We will pay particular attention to how Black, migrant, Indigenous peoples, workers, and folks in the Global South are leading the world in developing innovative and socially-just solutions to climate change. Listening and learning from these marginalized voices is a crucial first step in fighting back against the apathy, nihilism, and fear that pervade discussions of the climate crisis in the Global North.