Syllabus

Our texts will be The Politics of Large Numbers by Alain Desosières [ISBN 0-674-00969-X] and Census and Identity edited by David I. Kertzer and Dominique Arel [ISBN 978-0-521-00427-5]. Additional readings will be assigned.

Learning Goals of This Course
* Awareness of the diversity of social forms manifest in different cultural groups in society.
* Critical thinking skills by becoming familiar with the scientific methods by which sociologists investigate the organizational structure and dynamics of society.

Learning Objectives of This Course
* Describe trends in ethnic, racial, religious, class, or gender changes in the U.S.;
* Use foundational concepts to interpret their own lived experience; and,
* Critically review the methodological techniques in the relevant sociological literature and apply them to a research question that the student has formulated.

About This Course
Students are expected to demonstrate critical thinking by problematizing population trend data as part of the social construction of social problems. This requires that students apply a sociological imagination to their paper topic — to see how it is the result of social construction, and how power and identity affect how a population trend is defined as good or bad — as well as the ability to find and describe demographic information relevant to a particular sociological argument. Students are expected to demonstrate their familiarity with quantitative reasoning in synthesizing arguments about population trends. Finally, students are expected to demonstrate their familiarity with professional diction via the term paper assignment and in-class exercises.

Grading will consist of three parts: (a) two essay examinations, one covering each of the assigned texts and class discussions; (b) a research paper investigating the social construction of a social problem and the data arguments therein; and, (c) participation. The examinations will involve short essay questions readings and discussions. Each of the examinations is worth up to 20 points. The research paper will be around 3,000 words including both a brief review of some of the relevant literature on a particular social problem and some examination of data relevant to it. The research paper is worth up to 40 points. Participation in class and on the course site is worth up to 20 points.

Grades will be assigned according to the following scale: 100-94 = A, 93-90 = A-, 89-87 = B+, 86-82 = B, 81-80 = B-, 79-76 = C+, and, 75-70 = C. The minimum passing score is 70.

Course Rules and Expectations:
* Attendance is required. Every unexcused absence will result in a two point deduction. If you must miss a meeting, you are required to fill out the absence form. (Fill out the form in advance if the absence is planned. Otherwise, complete the form as soon as possible after the meeting you missed.) If I do not receive a completed form, the absence will be counted as unexcused.
* Class meetings will be a mixture of lecture presentation and hands-on activities.
* Be prepared to participate in discussions. You should complete the assigned readings prior to the class meeting in which they will be discussed. Take notes on the readings: ask questions about what is unclear; make connections to other points of knowledge.
* Be prepared to participate in group exercises. The best way to learn is to teach, and we will often engage in exercises that require you to explain material to each other.
* Be prepared to interact through the course web site. This will allow us to extend the course beyond the class meetings.
* Out of respect for your classmates, you should refrain from disruptive activities, such as talking in class during the lecture, sleeping, arriving late or leaving early, etc. Please do not bring your cellular phone to class, or turn it off during the class meeting. You will be marked as absent on a given day for persistent infractions.

Consult the Brooklyn College Bulletin and the university policy [PDF] for regulations regarding academic integrity. If you submit work for credit that is not your own, you will receive a zero on that assignment. Academic dishonesty is grounds for failure in the course. Additional penalties may result, at the discretion of the college.