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Statement of Purpose

As part of the effort to strengthen and renew the undergraduate program, the purpose of these modules is to provide the basis for consistency across the program with regard to the international and intercultural foundations of sociology. As the beginnings of modern social and sociological theory originated in Europe, it is important for students in the social sciences to have a grasp of the comparative and historical implications of the development in sociology–as the study of modern societies. Familiarity with the contexts in which sociological theory emerged is a necessary precondition for understanding and appreciating the concerns and guiding questions that informed the priorities and purposes of social theorists and early sociologists. In the absence of such an understanding, it is very difficult for students unfamiliar with the countries and contexts of origin of the early sociologists, to appreciate how the goals and efforts of the sociologists were the consequence of genuine and sincere efforts to further the project of Enlightenment. The approach chosen for designing these modules thus serves three primary purposes:

  • to enable students to gain a clear sense of the kinds of problems individual actors, social groups, institutions, as well as governments, faced at the time of the first sustained efforts in Europe and America to ground sociology as the social science of modern society;
  • to provide students with an understanding of the specific orientations of five key theorists, the objectives and guiding questions that informed their theories, as well as the broad outlines of their major contributions, respectively, to the history of sociology;
  • grounded in a comparatively and historically informed appreciation of the contexts that constituted the foil for the development of five key theorists, to enable students to recognize how relevant their contributions are to the sociology of modern western societies at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

In addition to selections from the theorists’s writings as well as key interpretations of important contributions they made, each module will include information about

  • the theorists’ historical and national context,
  • important historical events that occurred during their life-times,
  • the social, political, and cultural circumstances of their lives.

Furthermore, examples from pop-culture will be provided, especially in the form of excerpts from movies, that illustrate key points and the currency of their ideas today.

Each module will conclude with an on-line quiz that will enable the student to determine his or her progress and grasp of the material.

Module 1: Karl Marx and the Beginning of Modern Social Theory
The primary target audience for this module are students enrolled in the required Sociological Theory course, of which the department offers multiple sections each semester.  In addition to Sociological Theory, this module will be important for students enrolled in sociology courses (see list below) that address issues relating to the Department of Sociology organizing theme of social justice, to social class and inequalities, foundations of sociology, power, social movements, poverty, and globalization.  Furthermore, this module will be of use to students in political science, philosophy, religion, and global studies.  Combined, each semester there will be upward of 400 students who will benefit from this module in sociology alone.

Module 2: Emile Durkheim and the Foundations of French Sociology
The primary target audience for this module are students enrolled in the required Sociological Theory course, of which the department offers multiple sections each semester. In addition to Sociological Theory, this module will be important for students enrolled in courses (see list below) that address issues relating to social class, foundations of sociology, and especially the large constituency of students who major in criminal justice. In addition, the importance of Durkheim to the sociology of religion makes this module especially relevant to students who major in religion. Combined, each semester there will be upward of 200 students who will benefit from this module in sociology.

Module 3: Max Weber and the Foundations of German Sociology
The primary target audience for this module are students enrolled in the required Sociological Theory course, of which the department offers multiple sections each semester. In addition to Sociological Theory, this module will be important for students enrolled in courses (see list below) that address issues relating to social class, foundations of sociology, power, social movements, and globalization. This module also will be particularly useful to students majoring in religion and political science. Combined, each semester there will be upward of 200 students who will benefit from this module in sociology.

Module 4: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Foundations of American Feminist Sociology
The primary target audience for this module are students enrolled in the required Sociological Theory course, of which the department offers multiple sections each semester. In addition to Sociological Theory, this module will be important for students enrolled in courses (see list below) that address issues relating to social justice, social class and inequality, foundations of sociology, gender, social movements, and American society. Combined, each semester there will be upward of 250 students who will benefit from this module.

Module 5: W. E. B. Dubois and the Foundations of African-American Sociology
The primary target audience for this module are students enrolled in the required Sociological Theory course, of which the department offers multiple sections each semester. In addition to Sociological Theory, this module will be important for students enrolled in courses (see list below) that address issues relating to social justice, social class and inequality, race and ethnicity, foundations of sociology, power, social movements, and poverty. In addition, this module will be of help to students majoring in Africana and African-American studies. Combined, each semester there will be upward of 250 students who will benefit from this module in sociology.

 

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