FALL 2017

INSTRUCTOR:  Larry Stern
OFFICE — PHONE — EMAIL:   L207 (Library SCC) – 972-881–5608 –
OFFICE HOURS:  Monday & Wednesday 10 - 12; Tuesday & Thursday 1 - 2
CLASS MEETING TIMES & LOCATION Monday and Wednesday, 1-2:15, Room L253

Course Description: Application of sociological principles and theoretical perspectives to major social problems in contemporary society such as inequality, crime and violence, substance abuse, environmental issues, deviance, or family problems.

Prerequisite:  Meet TSI college-readiness standard for Writing; or equivalent

Course Delivery Method: Lectures, class discussions, and audiovisual materials such as web sites, movies, and Power Point presentations.

Supplies: An active, open-minded, critical brain with functioning synapses.

State Mandated Student Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

(1) Describe how the sociological imagination can be used to explain the emergence and implications of contemporary social problems.

(2) Explain the nature of social problems from at least one sociological perspective, e.g., critical, functional, interpretive, etc.–

(3) Identify multidimensional aspects of social problems including the global, political, economic, and cultural dimensions of social problems.

(4) Discuss how “solutions” to social problems are often contentious due to diverse values in society.

(5) Describe how the proposed “solutions” to a social problem, including social policies, may bring rise to other social problems.

Course Requirements: Reading of all assigned materials; regular attendance and class participation; completion of all assignments, including papers and exams.


Specific reading assignments are listed on the calendar.  Although we will not cover all of the materials in our class discussions, you are nevertheless responsible for all of the materials covered in the assigned readings.

There is NO required textbook for this course. Instead, I shall provide lecture notes and power point presentations and links to articles and discussions that will be found on the internet.

Class Attendance:

(1)    Attendance is mandatory and will be taken each class.  Most of my lectures and our discussions will go beyond the required readings and include materials not included in these readings.  In some cases I shall disagree with the authors of assigned readings.  As a result, a good set of class notes will be extremely helpful to you – indeed, they are essential if you plan on excelling in this course.

(2)   I shall allow students—with good reasons—to arrive late or depart early. Attending for only one-half of a class on a given day is better than not attending at all. If you need to either arrive late or depart early, please do so unobtrusively with a minimum of disruption
Excessive unexcused absences (10 hours or more) will likely cost you a letter grade.

(3)    Students who stop attending class but who do not officially withdraw will be assigned a grade of "F."

The last day to withdraw and receive the grade of "W" is Friday, October 20, 2016

Class Participation:

This class will be student-centered. As such, you will be encouraged to be an active learner. It is quite likely - indeed their are specifiable sociological reasons to expect - that we will not all see "eye-to-eye" about many of the topics and issues we shall discuss in class. That is to say, we shall likely disagree about whether something actually constitutes a social problem - and if we agree about this, we very likely will disagree about its causes - and if we agree about this, we very likely will disagree about what would be the best solution. As long as we "agree to disagree" - and do so in a civil manner - all is well. However, not everyone is comfortable speaking their mind in public and active learning can still be accomplished through other means. As a result, speaking up in class is NOT mandatory – no specified percentage of your grade depends on it. However, as will be indicated in the section on grading, bonus points may be awarded for active participation.

Writing Assignments

(1) You will complete five (5) writing assignments. The first two assignments - on "Political Ideology" and the "Sociological Analysis of Social Problems" - are required. You will then choose three assignments from the remaining six that are posted on the course calendar: these focus on (1) Prejudice and Discrimination, (2) Poverty, Wealth, Inequality and Life-Chances, (3) Crime & Deviance, (4) Sexuality and Gender Inequality, (5) Health Care, and (6) Political Partisanship, Social Responsibility & Social Policy. Other topics may be substituted. In each case you will directly apply concepts and theories discussed in class to particular contemporary events. Each paper will require roughly two-to-three pages (750 words). These five assignments, combined, will count as 75% of your final grade.

(2) For your final exam, you will submit a Research Paper or Service Learning Project.  In keeping with the philosophy of this college, students are encouraged to complete at least fifteen hours of work “outside” the classroom. You will choose one of the two following options. Whichever option you choose will count for 25% of your final grade.

A.    You may participate in Collin County Community College’s nationally recognized Service Learning Program. This program is designed to involve students in volunteer community service that addresses local needs – i.e., tutoring at elementary schools, helping at a homeless shelter or Habitat for Humanity, assisting those with disabilities – and, at the same time develops their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community. Since the goal of many of these organizations is to directly address and attempt to alleviate perceived social problems in the community, the “hands-on” experience you receive will provide a deeper understanding of the problem and those it affects and the practical difficulties (i.e., resource mobilization; local politics) these organizations face.

If you choose this option, you are required to provide a minimum of 15 hours of documented service to the organization. You will specify three learning objectives that relate your activities to this course – I will provide assistance if needed – and, at the end of the semester, you will turn in a three-to-five-page paper in which you describe and assess your experience. Guidelines will be distributed to those who choose to participate (and be placed on the Web site for this course). For a complete description of the program including directions, Collin's Active Community Partners List and forms for getting started, click here

B.  You may conduct a case study of a particular social problem. Your focus will be on the local situation: the extent to which the problem exists in the metroplex area and local efforts - by citizen groups, local organizations, chapter of national organizations - to address these problems. Here, you will (a) collect data from various local agencies and organizations that will establish the extent to which the problem exists, (b) choose one citizen group, local organization, or chapter of a national organization and examine the various tactics and strategies that have been used to organize, mobilize resources, and engage in direct action to affect meaningful change and (c) taking into account opposition forces and political context, assess the extent to which the problem is being alleviated and the prospects for the future.


Five Writing Assignments =           75%
Research Paper: "Service Learning" OR "Case Study" =           25%
  =           100%

Bonus points (no more than one-half letter grade) may be awarded to students with excellent attendance and above-average class participation

Excessive unexcused absences (10 hours or more) will likely cost you a letter grade.

The last day to withdraw and receive the grade of "W" is Friday, October 20th.

House Rules:

  1. Please refer to your Student Handbook for the complete student code of conduct.
  2. Pagers and phones are to be turned off (or put on vibrate) during the class period. If we hear a phone ring during class we reserve the right to answer it.
  3. Electronic devices may be used in the classroom to enhance learning. Playing games, text messaging, listening to music, using cell phones, etc would not be considered as appropriate use of an electronic device in a learning environment. Please turn off the audio features of these devices before you enter the classroom.
  4. Missed Exam: Must be taken within one week; ten points will be deducted. Late assignments: Ten points will be deducted per class period.
  5. Unexcused absences of 8 hours or more will likely cost you a letter grade.
  6. If you arrive late for class, please do so unobtrusively. If you need to leave early, please let us know in advance. 
  7. Above all, students—and the Professor—will conduct themselves in the classroom in a civil manner and treat all others and their ideas with respect. Students who are disruptive will be asked to leave.

Academic Ethics:

Every member of the Collin College community is expected to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. Collin College may initiate disciplinary proceedings against a student accused of scholastic dishonesty. Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, statements, acts, or omissions related to applications for enrollment or the award of a degree, and/or the submission of one’s own work material that is not one’s own. Scholastic dishonesty may involve, but is not limited to, one or more of the following acts: cheating, plagiarism, collusion, use of annotated texts or teacher’s editions, use of information about exams posted on the Internet or electronic medium, and/or falsifying academic records. While specific examples are listed below, this is not an exhaustive list and scholastic dishonesty may encompass other conduct, including any conduct through electronic or computerized means:

Plagiarism is the use of an author’s words or ideas as if they were one’s own without giving credit to the source, including, but not limited to, failure to acknowledge a direct quotation.

Cheating is the willful giving or receiving of information in an unauthorized manner during an examination; collaborating with another student during an examination without authority; usingbuying, selling, soliciting, stealing, or otherwise obtaining course assignments and/or examination questions in advance, copying computer or Internet files, using someone else’s work for assignments as if it were one’s own; or any other dishonest means of attempting to fulfill the
requirements of a course.

Collusion is intentionally or unintentionally aiding or attempting to aid another in an act of scholastic dishonesty, including but not limited to, failing to secure academic work; providing a paper or project to another student; providing an inappropriate level of assistance; communicating answers to a classmate about an examination or any other course assignment; removing tests or answer sheets from a test site, and allowing a classmate to copy answers.

See the current Collin Student Handbook for additional information.

==> Any form of scholastic dishonesty will result in a “zero” grade on the particular assignment or test.

Student technical support is now provided 24/7 for students at (972) 377-1777 or at the eCollin Learning Center

Collin College Course Enrollment Policy:

You may repeat these courses only once after receiving a grade, including W, at the College's regular tuition cost. Each successive enrollment will have an added tuition cost.

Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance:

Collin College will adhere to all applicable Federal, State, and locl laws, regulations and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations as required to afford equal educational opportunity.  It is the student's responsibility to contact the faculty member and the ACCESS Office (SCC-D140) or 881–5898, (V/TDD-881-5950) to arrange for appropriate accommodations. See the current Student Handbook for additional information.