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University of Tennessee: Department of Sociology
Sociology 110: Social Problems/Social Justice
Tuesday, Thursday: 8:10AM-9:25AM
College of Nursing, Room 105

Instructor: Holly Ningard Office Hours: Tuesday, Thursday 9:25AM-10:25AM, or by appointment.
Office: 243 Greve Hall

Welcome to Social Problems/Social Justice! Sociology, broadly speaking, is the scientific study of the development, structure, and processes of human society. This course is designed to provide an introduction to the sociological approach to social justice in modern society.

What you learn in this classroom will help you to gain an understanding of the issues that are happening today, right now, everywhere you look. That's what's so exciting about this field! It is the goal of this course not simply to discuss current issues such as globalization, poverty, and inequality, but to be able to use the sociological perspective to understand the history, theory, and broader social forces behind these issues. With successful completion of this course, you will leave not only with an understanding of elements of social structure and the organization of society, but with the knowledge of how to apply the sociological perspective to analyze social problems and issues in the contemporary world.

Readings in Social Justice (2nd Edition), R. Scott Frey, ed. ISBN: 978-1-4652-1290-0

Additional readings will be available on Blackboard.

I expect that by signing up for this class, you will incorporate our meeting times into your schedule and be able to attend all class periods. However, I also understand that unexpected events happen. Attendance in this class is not required, though I will take attendance every day, and a decision to not show up to class can impact your final grade. I do not give out my lecture notes; if you miss a day, it is your responsibility to get the material for that day from one of your classmates.

Sociology is all about dialogue and discourse, especially between multiple perspectives and viewpoints. We will be covering multiple important issues facing society today, which at times can be controversial. Contributing to class discussion and other exercises in a calm, civil manner is key to successfully tackling these issues.

In order to have effective discussion where everyone feels comfortable to speak their opinion, there are some ground rules for class conduct. These include: * Absolutely NO racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory and/or inappropriate remarks will be tolerated. * Be respectful when other students are speaking. Do not talk over or otherwise disrupt their remarks. * Please do not use your cell phone in class. * Laptops are fine if that is how you best take notes. However, the temptation to stray onto the Internet can be strong! If your laptop use becomes a distraction to those around you, I will ask you to close your computer. * No side chatter when lecture or discussions are happening.

If we all adhere to these standards for class conduct, I have no doubt that we will have some great discussion to help both understand the sociological concepts we will be tackling and to realize their far reaching implications for all areas of the social world.

This class will follow the University of Tennessee’s standards regarding cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic misconduct. You can review this policy on the University's website at this link:

If you are a student with a disability (e.g. physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) and think that you might need special assistance or a special accommodation in this class or any other class, call the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 425-4006 or come by the office, 102 Frist Hall.

To be able to participate effectively in class discussion, you will need to have completed the reading assignments listed on the schedule below. To ensure that you are keeping up with the readings, I am asking that you come up with discussion questions as you read. These should not be simple questions such as, “In what year was this essay written?” or “What was the name of the theorist discussed in today’s reading?” Rather, your questions should show a deeper consideration of the reading material in order to earn full credit.

Discussion questions are worth up to two points each, and you may turn in one question per reading assignment. You must reach a total of 20 points before the semester is over in order to obtain full credit for this section of the course, which will be worth 15% of your final grade.

This course will consist of one major writing assignment following our viewing of a film. Responses should be 3-5 pages in length and follow the standard format of double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font. We will view two films throughout this course, and you will have your choice of which film you would like to write on. More detailed descriptions for each assignment will be posted to Blackboard.

I will accept late papers up to one week after the due date specified in the schedule below. One point will be deducted for each day that your paper is late. After one week, you must take a 0 on the assignment.

This course consists of both a midterm and a final exam. Exams contain a mix of both multiple choice and short answer questions. Study guides will be provided to help keep you organized as you prepare for exams. Your final exam will not be cumulative.

Midterm Exam Time Thursday, October 1st, 8:10AM
Final Exam Time TBA

The following is a breakdown of how your performance will be assessed throughout this course:

Discussion Questions | 15% | Writing Assignment | 25% | Midterm Exam | 30% | Final Exam | 30% |

A note on grade changes: Once grades are submitted, unless there is a calculation error on my part, I will not change them. If you feel as though you are struggling with any material, the time to talk to me is not the week that final grades are to be submitted, but rather in the weeks before so that I can help you to better understand the topic. Extra credit is offered throughout the term (more on that below), but I do not give individual extra credit assignments. Your final grade is just that: final.

I enjoy opening class with a short video in order to get us thinking about the topic for the day. You have the opportunity to earn extra credit points towards either your midterm or final exam by submitting a relevant video to me before each class period. Please use the following criteria: * You can submit anything from music videos to news clips. * Please keep videos short; 5 minutes or less. * Videos must be class appropriate (no excessive violence, cursing, nudity, etc.). * Submit videos by 7PM the night before class is held with a brief description of how the video relates to the next day’s topic.
You may submit up to two videos to me: one in the first half of the semester which can contribute to your midterm exam, and one in the second half of the semester which can contribute to your final exam. Accepted videos will be worth two points.

This schedule is tentative and subject to change (for instance, if class material spills over from one lecture into another).

Week 1: Introduction to Course
Syllabus Day Introduction to Course

Week 2: Introduction to Sociology
Mills, C. Wright. The Promise, available on Blackboard.

8/27/15 Newman, David M. The Structure of Society, available on Blackboard.

Week 3: What is Social Justice?
Rawls, John. “A Theory of Justice,” pp. 5-12 in Readings in Social Justice.

9/3/15 Persell, Caroline Hodges. “The Interdependence of Social Justice and Civil Society,” pp.
13-28 in Readings in Social Justice.

Week 4: Applying Ideas of Justice
FILM Water scarcity: no readings.

Water scarcity: no readings.

Week 5: Stratification and Poverty 9/15/15 WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE Hacker, Jacob S. and Paul Pierson. “The Winner-Take-All Economy,” pp. 33-44 in Readings in Social Justice. 9/17/15
Duhigg, Charles and David Barboza. “In China, Human Costs are Built into an iPad,” pp. 79-92 in Readings in Social Justice.

Week 6: Stratification and Race
Bales, Kevin. “The New Slavery,” pp. 69-77 in Readings in Social Justice.

Bell, Derrick. Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, pp. 1-13 available on Blackboard.

Week 7: Racial Inequality
Butler, Judith. What’s Wrong with “All Lives Matter”?, available on Blackboard.


Week 8: Gender Inequality
Andersen, Margaret L. The Social Construction of Gender, available on Blackboard.

Collins, Patricia Hill. “Gender, Black Feminism, and Black Political Economy,” pp. 131-143 in Readings in Social Justice.

Week 9: Intersectionality
Intersectionality: no readings.


Week 10: Issues in Criminology
Wakefield, Sara and Christopher Uggen. “Incarceration and Stratification,” pp. 247-268 in Readings in Social Justice.

Alexander, Michelle. “Introduction,” The New Jim Crow, available on Blackboard.

Week 11: The Drug War

10/29 FILM Mass incarceration and intersectionality: no readings.

Week 12: Punishment and Justice
Travis, Jeremy. “Invisible Punishment: An Instrument of Social Exclusion,” pp. 269-279 in Readings in Social Justice.

11/5 Defining crime and punishment: no readings.

Week 13: Environmental Justice
Bullard, Robert D. “Environmental Justice in the 21st Century,” pp. 183-203 in Readings in Social Justice.

11/12 Urry, John. “Consuming the Planet to Excess,” pp. 225-241 in Readings in Social Justice.

Week 14: Pursuing Social Justice
Jones, Ellis, Ross Haenfler and Brett Johnson with Brian Klocke. “Building a Better World,” pp. 283-292 in Readings in Social Justice.

11/19 NO CLASS

Week 15: Pursuing Social Justice
Weisheit, Ralph and Frank Morn. “Individual Strategies for Achieving Justice,” pp. 293-312 in Readings in Social Justice.


Week 16: Wrapping Up
Exam Review…...

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