SYLLABUS FOR FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIAL LIFE
Thomas Steiger, Professor TTH 12:30-1:45PM 103 HH
Ofce: 270 Holmstedt Course Number 51186
Hours: MW 10:30-11:30AM or by appointment (or if my door is open don't hesitate to stop in)
Phone: Office 237-3426, please leave a voice-mail message
Home 466-5912, 8AM-8PM
ISU Catalog Description: This course presents a perspective on the individual and society that emphasizes the importance of the "social" in understanding our lives. Students will learn to critically evaluate questions of human nature, and the development/structure/processes of human behavior and social systems. Through writing, speaking, reading, and listening, students will enhance their abilities to make informed judgements and reasoned choices about social issues and personal behaviors. Through their development of a "sociological imagination," students will be better able to understand, participate in, and adapt to social change. (Fulfills Foundational course requirement for Core Area B. Does not count for sociology major or minor credit.)
Professor Steiger's Description: At some time during the semester, I hope each student has three experiences. First, an "aah ha" experience where you come to a completely different realization about some social phenomenon that you once thought you understood but now see past the thin veneer and into the structure and framework of the phenomenon. Second, I hope each of you has a moment when your understandings of social "things" are shaken or your values and beliefs about society are significantly challenged. Third, that you have some success in developing your "sociological imagination," the ability to see the connections between your personal biography (think choices) and history (think "who set the choices" or why this set of choices at this time).
FAQs: Other than foundational course credit, why should I take SOCI00? If we all do our jobs, students should develop four vital skills which are the goals of the general education program, namely critical thinking, communication skills, distinguishing values, beliefs, and their effect on knowledge, and the capacity for lifelong learning.
What is "critical thinking? " Ultimately critical thinking is learning to learn. In the contextof SOC100 we are going to challenge your common sense and taken-for-granted
understandings of your society and human behavior. But, rather than merely presenting an alternative viewpoint on, for instance, "poverty," this course should help you become more critical (think active) in evaluating explanations for poverty and more demanding for evidence to back up an explanation.
What do you mean, "communication skills? " Reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In this course you will be reading about 35 pages of sociology a week ...not too bad really. The readings mostly will serve as a basis for small group discussion (speaking) in class. Of course in order for communication to take place, there must be someone expressing and another person receiving the expressions. Also, some of you will do impromptu large group presentations (asking or answering questions during the full class presentations lead by Prof Steiger) Lastly, you'll write at least two essays in the class and participate as much as you wish in the "virtual sociology cafe," a computer fstserve (or newsgroup).
What's the stuff with values and beliefs; you're not going to tell me what to believe and what to value are you? No, sociologists aren't supposed to tell people what they should value or should believe, that would violate an important tradition in sociology ...value neutrality. But, I will model particular values as they relate to knowledge and I will invite you to integrate social science into your beliefs about society. You will learn how values and beliefs affect what we hold as knowledge and better be able to begin to separate values, beliefs from scientific knowledge.
Lifelong learning .... does that mean I'm going to be learning a bunch of stuff that really
won't make sense until I'm married or have kids? Maybe, but in this course, I hope it is the
"sociological imagination" which begins to emerge, that is the connection between personal
biography and social change. Indeed, it is at this point that we come full circle ...if you are
developing critical thinking skills, becoming a lifelong learner (and developing your sociological imagination) is pretty easy.
Is there anything else? Yes, the course is also supposed ...to develop students' understanding of the nature, development, structure, and processes of human behaviors and social systems. The coursework should also lead students to be knowledgeable and reflective participants in the operation and evolution of social institutions and systems.
What does that mean? See, that is why you need such a course. Let's get started...
REQUIRED MATERIALS and RESOURCES:
TEXTS: MgMina the Social Landscape, (MSP) 2"d edition by Susan Ferguson
The Sociologicall Examined Life, (SEL) 2°d edition by Michael Schwalbe
Two reserve readings (RR) on the World Wide Web (WWW). You can locate them on the course website under "External Links." Just click on the link with the Reserve Readings required. You DO need Adobe Acrobat to read these.
You will need to activate your student computer account at ISU or have internet access, an email program, and probably a word processor available to you. All of these are supplied to you with your ISU computer account.