Sociology Courses

In addition to the regularly taught courses listed below, Special Topics courses are often offered.

101.        IntroSoc: Principles of Sociology.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to theories and concepts of sociology, as well as to facilitate the development of each student’s “sociological imagination.”  Members of the class will critically examine how social institutions and social structures operate, and to what ends.  After introducing the sociological perspective and the research methods used to study society, we will examine what sociologists have come to know about various social structures and institutions (i.e., class, crime and deviance, the economy, education, gender, family, media, race, sexuality, etc.) as well as forms of social inequality (stratification and social class, race and ethnicity, and gender inequality).  By discussing and applying theories and concepts central to the discipline, we will begin to deconstruct and understand how these social structures and institutions shape individuals’ ideas about, and experiences in, the social world. 

110.        Global Problems.

This course introduces students to the sociological perspective through examination of global actors, processes and problems. The course focuses on the process of the consolidation of the world into a single economy. While some people and some regions have benefited greatly, others have suffered tremendously. We look at how social disparities take shape and figure out the reasons they are justified. Also offered through Peace Studies.

112.        Inequality.

In this course we will explore an introduction to the extent of inequality in the US. The course will primarily focus on economic, racial, and gender inequality, though we will also explore sexuality, immigration, disability, political, and family, as well as the intersection of these dimensions of inequality.  Fulfills SS Distribution (2013 curriculum).  Fulfills DIV13 requirement (2013 curriculum).  Also offered through Peace Studies.

161.        Social Problems and Policy.

This course explores the causes of and responses to the phenomena labeled “social problems.” The course examines how social phenomena are defined as problems and developed into issues. We investigate the role of the media, social movements, government and private capital in identifying problems and placing them on the public agenda. We also focus on a variety of policies proposed (and/or implemented) in response to specific social problems and the political conflicts that result from competing policy alternatives. The social impacts of various policy options associated with these issues are explored. Also offered through Peace Studies.

187.        Environment and Society.

This course explores the complex interrelations between human societies and the environment via the sociological perspective, a means of making the familiar aspects of our lives, and our understandings of the world, seem strange and new. In doing so we can better analyze our world and our place in that world especially with regard to human and natural interactions. In this course we will learn about the concepts, theories, and methods that sociologists use to understand critical issues of environmental degradation and ecological crises and how these problems are experienced differently depending on one’s location in global society. By the end of the course students will become familiar with analytical tools that enable an understanding of some underlying drivers of environmental degradation and ideas of what can be done to chart a better future. Also offered as ENVS 187.


The content of each course or section of these 100-level or 200-level special topics courses varies and will be announced each semester.


203.        Foundations of Social Theory.

This course brings under scrutiny the false dichotomies crowding the sociological imagination: structure/agency, history/theory, macro/micro, global/local. The broad-based analytical perspective enables students to appreciate theory in the context of historical relations and processes, and to approach history from a coherent theoretical angle of vision. Students are encouraged and expected to reflect on hegemonic rationales and conventional structures of knowledge. Students are assisted in perceiving the absurd fixation of mainstream knowledge on simplification and the axiomatic authority of disjunction, reduction, reification and abstraction. They are encouraged to see the virtue of complexity as an alternative form of knowledge of ecological/historical relations and processes. The objective of the course is to empower students by allowing them to discard simplification, and to embark on complexity as the intellectual path suitable to their reality. Prerequisite: any 100- or 200-level sociology course.

219.                        Power, Politics and Society.

In this course we will examine the relationship between power and politics (broadly defined), and how this relationship shapes our societies. In doing so, we will start by asking some general questions about power: How can we define it? Where can we locate its sources? How is authority exerted in society? Who has it and why? Can the holders of power be challenged, and if so, how? Tackling these questions will lead us to trace the development of the modern state, nations and nationalisms, democracy, and citizenship. As we delve into these complex topics, our class discussions will include empirical cases from different parts of the world.

221.        Sociology of Sex and Gender.

This introduction to social science ways of thinking about sex and gender provides an overview of contributions from a variety of disciplines and considers both theoretical and historical materials. We examine the social construction of gender and sexuality and the ways gender and sexuality and society interact with and affect each other, and how change takes place. The social developments and history of gender and sexualities are explored, and contemporary issues studied. In particular, how and why gender and sex became politicized, and continue to be so, is explored.

225.        Women’s Health and Aging.

The focus of this course is current issues related to the health and aging experiences of women in the U.S. and around the world.  Emphasis will be placed on a variety of challenges women face as they experience life transitions such as puberty, menstruation and PMS, pregnancy and childbirth, caretaking, fibromyalgia, breast cancer, and menopause, as well as on issues related to reproductive justice, health disparities, and the social construction of health, illness, and aging.  Students will gain an understanding of the social, historical, cultural, and demographic factors that impact health and illness and reflect on a variety of women’s experiences as they age.

228.        Race and Ethnicity.

This course introduces students to race and ethnicity from a social-historical perspective. It provides a conceptual background for understanding race and ethnicity. We do not treat race or ethnicity as “natural” or “obvious” identities, but study the sociological and historical emergence of race as an idea: as an effective way to categorize people and as a legitimate basis for social and structural hierarchies. We focus on how socio-historical relations and processes led to current conceptions and patterns of race and ethnic categories in the U.S., and consider possibilities challenging the nature of racial/ethnic identities by examining changes in political economy and anti-racist social movements.

235.        Earning a Living: Work and Occupations in a Global Economy.

Much of the construction of our self-identity is concerned with preparation for and taking up a place in the occupational structure. Our occupations and the “social value” of the work we do contribute to definitions of our social worth. This course is about the complex of social, economic, political, cultural and psychological processes that contribute to what we want to “be” when we “grow up” and what then becomes possible in a global economy. It examines what happens when there is no place for us.

236.                        Sociology of Education.

Through this course you will learn how to analyze the American education system in a sociological way. You will examine topics such as the role of family background, school choice, standardized testing, college admissions, and college financial aid in educational outcomes. The course will primarily seek to answer the following question: does the American education system decrease, increase, or maintain the existing inequality in the US?

246.        Aging in Society (with Community-Based Learning component)

This course examines the impact of aging on individuals and society, as well as the reactions of individuals and societies to aging. Theories and research on aging will be discussed, as well as the social, historical, cultural, demographic, and health factors related to the aging process. Topics include diversity in the aging experience, housing and long term care, health and health care, social support and interpersonal relationships, work and retirement, and death and dying.  Students were learn about Medicare, Social Security, and a variety of services (sometimes) available to older adults.  A Community-Based Learning component is integrated with the course material to facilitate a thorough understanding of aging in society. This course fulfills the Experiential Component requirement for majors.

253.        Race, Class, and Environmental Justice.

This course focuses on the distribution of environmental degradation and environmental protection, both domestically and globally. The social processes that generate synergistic racism and class stratification, affecting the distribution of ecological costs and benefits, are explored. Substantive topics include the siting of hazardous facilities and thermo-nuclear weapons testing, the socio-ecological conditions of migrant farm workers, extraction of resources from Native lands, and the transnational export of toxic waste to the “Global South.” The course examines the origins and impacts of a distinct environmental justice movement that has emerged in the U.S. Written and oral assignments involve individual and collaborative quests for socially equitable solutions to socio-eco-historical injustices.  Also offered as Environmental Studies 253.

254.        The Social Identity of Policing.

This course is neither about the Police as a specific occupation or profession, nor is it about social Identities as free-standing and eclectic categories. We will focus on how and why policing has become the underpinning of modern social relations through the conflicting dynamics between many identities and one law. To understand these processes, we will explore two related dimensions of policing embodied in the concepts of the mobility of control and the control of mobility. Beginning with a small-scale instance of a town, we will analyze how/why social identities are constructed through the processes of established and outsider dynamics. We will further build our argument in exploring the relations between the law, the control of mobility and policing identities using instances regarding the movement of people and the racialization of space. Lastly, we will conclude with contextualizing the dynamics of law, surveillance, the mobility of control, and policing identities. To do so, we will historicize the manifestations of surveillance and the reinforcement of social sorting, creation of generic categories, and the making of digital reputations.

255.        Self and Society.

In this course we will study the relationship between self and society by examining the process of socialization. We will consider both micro and macro social forces that shape this relationship. Everyday interactions but also broader historical forces and processes of social change will be part of our discussion. The first part of the course will focus on some of the main theoretical perspectives on self and society. We are then going to examine how our selves are shaped and reshaped by various institutions such as schools, family and the state.

264.        Environmental Movements

This course examines efforts by social movements around the globe to affect change in relation to environmental issues. Students will explore diverse case studies of grassroots collectives mobilizing to address energy production, conservation, environmental contamination, food, and the climate crisis. Throughout, we will draw on, and apply, sociological theories of social movements and social change. Students will have an opportunity to engage action-oriented research related to environmental movements and social advocacy, guided by their own passions and interests. Fulfills SS Distribution (2013 curriculum). Fulfills the EL requirement (2013 curriculum).

273.        The Hidden Face(s) of Historical Capitalism

This course is intended to explore the fundamental bases of the capitalist world-economy. The commodification of land, labor, and money and their respective impact upon ecological manipulations, social transformations, and power relations have been the underpinning of capitalist expansion. In taking these three material dimensions as our guide, we will be encouraged to appreciate historical and contemporary challenges regarding environmental sustainability, societal reproduction, and polarization. In similar vein, we will address the problematic in global governance and issues pertaining to the future of the capitalist system.



275.        Medical Sociology.

In this course, we examine aspects of health and illness from a sociological perspective.  We consider a variety of social, historical, and cultural forces in which health and illness are produced and understood in the United States and globally.  We spend time throughout the semester studying the biomedical approach and public health approach to health and illness.  Main topics in the course include: the social determinants of health and health inequalities, the social construction of health and illness, the profession of medicine and other health care professions, and the health care system in the United States.  Students will also have the opportunity to analyze and reflect on a variety of health care models from other countries.  Counts toward the public health minor and peace studies minor.

288.        Dilemmas of Development.

What does development mean? Is economic development always at the expense of social integration? By whose standard should we measure development? Is there a single best way of development? Are some cultures more likely to develop than others? Is globalization the remedy for underdevelopment? This course covers the basic sociological theories on development and globalization, and answers the above questions by looking at issues such as gender and class inequality, power of multinational corporations and multilateral agencies, consumerism, environment, and the search for alternative models in Asia and other parts of the world. Also offered as ASIA 288.

290.        Independent Study in Sociology. (0.5 unit)

Open to students who wish to pursue more specialized or advanced sociological study, fieldwork and research with a faculty mentor. Prerequisite: at least one Sociology course. Permission of instructor is required.

3113.      Green Café v 2.0.

The Green Café aims to increase student engagement with local sustainable food options on campus and provide a platform for building and expressing social justice advocacy. Food intersects culture, identity, equity, ecology, and economics. Food is thus an important theoretical and applied space to explore and facilitate change around these topics. In this course, students will learn how our dominant food system became inequitable and unsustainable, and how ecological regenerative growing techniques, social equity, and economic viability can be built [back] in. This course is hands-on. Students will develop, brand, and run events on campus around local food, food access, and gratitude / injustice / community. On a weekly basis, students will also combine guided academic learning with experiences farming, preparing food, and collaborating with SLU’s dining services team, student groups, and other community members. This course satisfies the experiential learning component of the Business in Liberal Arts Major and Sociology major. Students must also register for a 3-hour Thursday lab. Based on student interests and class demands, some labs may take place other times during the week at instructor / student discretion once the semester is underway. Fulfills DIV13 Distribution (2013 curriculum).

3118.      Sociology of Family with CBL.

Description: In this course, we will analyze US families as a consequence and a cause of other social factors. We will analyze broad trends in family formation and structure, the ways in which families have changed over time, the diversity of family patterns, and the effects of family on other social institutions.  Decisions about family seem very private and personal, but by examining family sociologically, we come to see that family decisions are actually very social, as the social world influences the choices that we make. Likewise, these seemingly personal decisions have wide-reaching effects across the social world, affecting institutions such as the education system, the labor market, and health. This course has a community-based learning component which will require you to work at your placement site every week.

300.        Qualitative Research Methods.

This writing-intensive course is an introduction to a variety of qualitative social research methods. It includes discussions of the principles of social research, the relationship between theory and method, research design, issues of validity and reliability, and ethical concerns in qualitative research.  Students learn qualitative techniques by designing and implementing a group based research project as well as using a variety of "hands-on" exercises in the field.  Students have the opportunity to engage in participant observation, in-depth interviews, content analysis and other unobtrusive methods. 

301.        Quantitative Research Methods.

This writing-intensive course is an introduction to quantitative social research methods with an emphasis on survey data.  Students engage in questionnaire and table construction, and data management and analysis using SPSS to complete an individually designed, ongoing research project throughout the semester. The course covers topics such as hypothesis and questionnaire construction, conceptualization and operationalization, sampling, data collection, processing, and analysis, reliability and validity, research ethics, and the presentation of research.  Students learn using a hands-on, computer-based approach to quantitative methods and data analysis.  Prerequisite: SOC 203, Foundations of Social Theory.

308.        Death and Dying.

This course explores social, historical, ethical and cultural aspects of death and dying. We will analyze the social meaning of death from a historical and cross-cultural perspective. Additional topics include the definition of death, attitudes and perceptions of death, ways of dying, the medicalization of dying, life extension, palliative care and hospice, euthanasia, body disposal and abuse, and the death industry. The course will offer students the opportunity for reflection and analysis on a number of issues related to death and dying.  Prerequisites: a 100-level soc course and a 200-level soc course. No pass/fail.

309.        Internships.

Internship opportunities exist in social welfare, gerontology, healthcare, social policy, law, criminal justice, the media and college administration. The department also encourages students to be imaginative and innovative in developing internships to meet their own interests. Internships require a commitment of eight hours a week. Students may not enroll in more than one semester of internship credit without petitioning the sociology department for approval. Students interested in exploring internship opportunities must contact the instructor prior to course registration during the preceding semester. Not open to first-year students. Prerequisite: at least two Sociology courses. This course fulfills the Experiential Component requirement for majors. Permission of instructor required.

310.        Slavery, Race and Culture.

The purpose of this seminar is to familiarize students with the world of slavery and its relation to the wider world of capitalism. Long a part of the global capitalist economy, slaves and slavery have been critical historical agents in shaping various aspects of social relations. The history of slavery has laid the foundation for race formations. Far from being a peculiar institution, slavery is indeed central to the making of the modern age. Pre-requisite: a 100-level course and a 200-level course.

314.        Nomads in World History.

Throughout history, the terms nomad and barbarian have been used interchangeably, and with negative connotations. Similarly, the terms settled and civilized have been synonymous, with positive associations. This dichotomy arises out of particular class and power interests and has had, as a consequence, an impact on our understanding of world history and the place of nomads in it. It has resulted in the stigmatization of nomads. In this course, we bring the nomadic factor back to focus and establish a more comprehensive picture and interpretation of world history.  Prerequisites: a 100-level course and a 200-level course.

 377.       Sociology of Consumption.

In this seminar, we explore consumption along a wide range of material dimensions. The sociology of consumption is concerned with the relationships of (a) the social to the natural and (b) the social to the social and (c) their consequences, such as social disruption and environmental destruction; “things” are fetishized and humans are commodified. The sociology of consumption helps us to understand this in the context of both the capitalist world economy and cultural expressions from early modernity to postmodernity. Prerequisites: a 100-level course and a 200-level course.

390.        Independent Study in Sociology. (1 unit)

Open to students who wish to pursue more specialized or advanced sociological study and research with a faculty mentor. Prerequisite: at least two sociology courses. Permission of instructor required.


The content of each course or section of these 300- or 400-level special topics courses varies and will be announced each semester.

4007.      Nations and Nationalism.

This course starts off by situating the rise of nations and nationalism in its historical context. It then moves on to engage with contemporary topics including everyday manifestations and reproductions of nationalism, and the relationship between nationalism and conflict. Through our discussions we will explore how and to what effect states employ nationalist policies inside their territories. Our readings will draw from a variety of empirical cases reflecting different forms of nationalism as well as different trajectories of nation-building.

4010.      Recreation and Resistance .

Description: In August 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks mobilized a wildcat strike and refused to play pro basketball in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Just a few years earlier, Colin Kaepernick made headlines for a similar effort on the football field. Fifty years before that, it was Tommie Smith and John Carlos who rocked the globe with fists raised and heads lowered during the U.S. national anthem at the Olympics. The truth is that American sports, and recreation more generally, have since inception been sites where social, cultural, and political inequities manifest and are challenged. This course explores how racial injustice and other forms of marginalization have been inscribed in our national leisure activities, as well as the ways communities use recreation and sport to bring about greater justice.

489/490. SYE Independent Study.

This requires completion of an individual research project mentored by one of the sociology faculty. Before registering, students should work with a faculty mentor to prepare a research proposal outlining the intended thesis, theoretical framework, methodology and ethical considerations including the application for human subjects review approval where necessary. This is a one-semester project (Fall or Spring). Prerequisites: SOC 203 Foundations of Social Theory, SOC 300 Qualitative Research Methods or 301 Quantitative Research Methods, any 300 or 400-level seminar, and a SYE Application submitted to the Sociology Department for approval during the semester prior to the project’s start. Permission of instructor required.

495/496. SYE Honors in Sociology.

This requires completion of an individual research project mentored by one of the sociology faculty. The project is undertaken over two semesters. Students need to register for both 495 (fall) and 496 (spring). Honors will be granted to students who have completed and defended a thesis before a departmental committee. Prerequisites: 3.5 major GPA, SOC 203 Foundations of Social Theory, SOC 300 Qualitative Research Methods or 301 Quantitative Research Methods, any 300 or 400 level seminar, and a SYE Application submitted to the Sociology Department for approval during the semester prior to the project’s start. Permission of instructor required.