Introduction to Sociology

As an academic discipline, sociology provides the conceptual tools necessary to identify, understand, and respond to social problems. But more than a field of study, sociology is a way of seeing the world, which can help people understand the connection between individual lives and social forces. Throughout the course and across the selected themes and topics, students examine key concepts central to sociology—social interaction, institution, structure, and change. In addition, they learn the different methods that sociologists use to study social life.

Methods of Empirical Investigation

This course provides an introduction to the logics of critical, reflexive social inquiry and an overview of the most common methods used by anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists in their attempt to explain how the social world works. Survey research, ethnography, comparative-historical approaches, and secondary data and content analysis are discussed. Students explore the strengths and limitations of different quantitative and qualitative methods as they consider how social science disciplines are related to broader structures of power, inequality, and conflict. Throughout the class, they are introduced to the components of social science research, including the ways in which researchers plan their study, define and develop measures for their concepts, draw their samples, and construct research questions and data gathering instruments. They also develop skills in reading, critiquing, and interpreting published research articles as you develop your own study. In addition, you will become familiar with the ethical standards in and political implications of research. Lastly, they master the process of writing grant proposals and publishing research results.

Introduction to Statistics

This course is an invitation to the discipline of statistics, which provides powerful scientific tools for understanding trends and patterns in the social world. It is designed equip students with the basic tools to interpret and discuss which type of statistical techniques are appropriate for different kinds of data to answer various research questions. Because the best way to learn is by doing, the course adopts a hands-on, activity-based method from the perspective of applied statistics. Students will also acquire basic knowledge of the software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). At the end of the course, students are expected to be able think statistically, use facts and figures properly and effectively, and become critical consumers of data.