Undergraduate Courses

The following is a partial list of courses offered through the sociology program:

Introduction to Sociology (SOCIO 211)

Whether students are exploring sociology as a potential major or fulfilling requirements for other areas of study, this course assists students in more deeply understanding the social worlds of which they are an integral part. It challenges taken for granted assumptions about how social life works and affects us as individuals—down to our very sense of self. The basic premise for the course is that we both create and are created by society (under specific historical circumstances). By understanding how we both affect and are affected by the societies in which we live, we can more critically reflect on our own role in shaping society. Social issues studied in relation to these ideas include romantic and family relations, education, religion, poverty, discrimination, migration, human trafficking/the sex trade, intimate violence and violent crime, capital punishment, eating disorders, genocide, technology and environment, and genetic engineering. Students are encouraged to use core sociological ideas to examine these and additional issues of interest to them. Finally, students are introduced to the importance of research-based sociology as well as applied sociology and encouraged to consider how sociology speaks and be applies to their everyday lives, including their disciplines/career goals of choice. 

Police and Society (SOCIO 362)

Examines the policing function in society and the role police play in the criminal justice process.

Sociology of the Criminal Justice System (SOCIO 361)

Sociology of the Criminal Justice System.  We explore the major components in the American criminal justice system and how these reflect norms and changes in our society.  Special emphasis is placed on issues of gender, race/ethnicity, and class within criminal justice.

Global Problems (SOCIO 363)

Analyzes the impact of globalization on people in the United States and around the world. Topics include the financial crisis in the United States, fall of communism and the rise of China, migration around the world, the origins of conflict in the Middle East (from Israel to India), and global warming.

Juvenile Delinquency (SOCIO 460)

This course studies the nature, extent, and cause of delinquency, characteristics of delinquents, and means of prevention and treatment.

Family Violence and the Criminal Justice System (SOCIO 470)

A must have course for all! Using a life course approach, focus is placed upon three forms of abuse: child abuse, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse. Emphasis is placed upon the Criminal Justice System's approach to working with victims and offenders of abuse.  This course is structured around various active learning projects that provide students an opportunity to explore cultural and structural aspects of victimization/offending in society.

Human Trafficking (SOCIO 500)

This course explores a range of topics related to human trafficking, sex trade, and anti-trafficking institutions in the context of globalization. While the course mainly focuses on sex trafficking of women, other forms of slavery-like practices (e.g., forced labor, exploitation of children, domestic servitude, and others) will be analyzed. We will review relevant concepts and theories that can help us in explaining the causes of these social problems. We will also discuss different solutions of the problems as well as institutional and legislative frameworks used to counter human trafficking. Finally, we will analyze multiple case studies, testimonies, reports, and expert statements to fully understand the complexity of the problem. (Photo by cafisher.)

Post-Communist Societies (SOCIO 500/701)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the post-communist transformation in Eastern Europe, divided into three major sections: historical overview of state socialist (planned) economies, changing social institutions in post-communist societies, and life and inequalities in post-communist Eastern Europe. Connected to these sections are topic areas, such as post-communist space and mobility, class and inequalities, political democratization, youth culture and prospects, crime, global connections of the transformation, human rights and civil society, security and conflict, religion and ethnicity and the changing family.

Sociology of Deviant Behavior (SOCIO 500)

Do you often wonder why people participate in unusual behaviors? Perhaps you like to "walk on the wild side." If this sounds interesting to you, the Sociology of Deviant Behavior is a perfect course to meet your interests. In this course we will examine non-normative behaviors and the role of power in influencing the labeling of such behaviors. You will learn that deviance can be both a positive and a negative force in society through active learning projects and course discussions.

Death Penalty (SOCIO 500)

The theme:  Death is different.  Examines myths and learning facts about capital punishment in the U.S. and a global marketplace, advancing to historical, legal, and social issues related to death as punishment.  Students profile individual case studies, while addressing public issues and hard dilemmas.  Several expert perspectives are incorporated. 

Sociology of Emotions (SOCIO 500)

Emotions are present in every social situation and action, they are ubiquitous in social life.  Despite the centrality of emotion in social life, the "sociology of emotions" is a relatively new field dating from the mid-1970s.  At present, it is rapidly growing and beginning to impact the discipline as a whole.  We are thus in the midst of an "emotional turn" across the social sciences and humanities.  In this course, students examine the social role of emotions from a number of different perspectives, both micro and macro.  Central to this is a new conception of the relationship between "reason" and "emotion" which goes against the conventional wisdom of western culture.  Contrary to common belief, emotions complement and support rational decision making and action, rather than conflicting with or hindering them.

Crime, Media & Culture (SOCIO 500)

What is crime?  Who are the heroes, villains, victims...?  This course engages in cultural criminology to analyze the fluid process between various media forms, popular culture, and the so-called reality of crime – a false distinction.  Media portrayals include screen, TV, news sources, games, and documentaries.

Constructing the Criminal Mind (SOCIO 500)

Is your neighbor a psychopath?  This course chronicles the long history of biological explanations of crime, incorporating political, social, and cultural constructions to understand the complexity of the social mind.

Cultural Sociology (SOCIO 500)

"Culture" is the medium through which we understand the world.  It involves our shared ideas, beliefs, and habits – all those things that render the world around us comprehensible, communicable, and meaningful.  Some core aspects of "culture" are those things that are handed down in the form of tradition from generation to generation; other key aspects are new – generated within current generations to make sense of the rapidly changing world we live in.  The Sociology of Culture is thus about collective "meaning" itself, the processes through which meaning is generated, and the roles meanings play in social life.  But it is also about "experience" and "living" – for it is through cultural concepts that we "see," "feel," and "know" the world around us and assess the significance of the situations we find ourselves in.

International Development and Social Change (SOCIO 507)

This course focuses on the forces that are causing social, economic and political changes in developing societies, and how contemporary social movements, like the Fair Trade movement, are attempting to address poverty and environmental sustainability across developing-industrializing world contexts.  We incorporate films, lectures and discussions in the class.

Comparative Social Theories (SOCIO 511)

This course provides an overview of classical and contemporary sociological theories.  Students learn about the lives and works of the most influential sociologists.  Through different class assignments, they examine, compare, and critique different sociological theories.  Finally, students apply these sociological theories to personal experiences and to contemporary issues in society.

Methods of Social Research (SOCIO 520)

This course introduces students to the wide range of methods, basic concepts, and principles that scientists employ in their research.  You will learn how social science differs from other ways of talking about society, and that different methods are more appropriate depending on the specific goals of the research.  The first section of the course introduces basic criteria for evaluating research designs.  The second section briefly surveys the dominant methods of data collection.

Urban Sociology (SOCIO 531)

Urban Sociology deals with cities or urban places and how they affect social life more generally.  As of the year 2000 (approximately) more than half of the world's population lives in "urban" places.  The United States, in this sense, has long been an "urban" society.  Even Kansas, which is generally seen as a relatively "rural" state, surpassed this 50 percent urban mark by 1950; though this doesn't change the fact that most of the state is rural, and that a small handful of cities such as Wichita, Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City (and its western suburbs, such as Overland Park, Olathe, etc.) account for almost all of "urban" Kansas.  The important point is that the urbanization of the world, the United States, and even of Kansas, affects society and life at all of these levels, including the truly "rural" areas.  Thus, understanding the life of "cities" is important whether one actually lives in a city or not.  "Urban" life, decisions, and life styles, have impact far beyond the boundaries of the cities in which they are born.

Rural Sociology (SOCIO 532)

In this course students learn how to analyze social change in rural places. Rural regions in both industrialized and developing countries are currently experiencing dramatic changes.  In many rural areas, declines in traditional sectors like farming, forestry and mining have caused economic declines and depopulation, while in other areas, growth in new industries have drawn in diverse population groups.  Other rural regions with particular amenities have become sites for recreation, tourism, and settlement by retirees and telecommuters. In the course students explore meanings of rurality, changing social and ethnic characteristics in rural America (with special attention on the Midwest), challenges and social problems faced by rural America in creating economic and social opportunities. Additionally, students examine how food and agricultural production has shaped rural places and produced alternative agriculture and community impacts.

Environmental Sociology (SOCIO 536)

This course examines the relationships between environment and society. In the past few decades sociologists have been increasingly recognizing both the role of humans in shaping the biophysical environment, as well as the role of the biophysical world in shaping society. This course is intended to help us develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of environment/society interactions. The first section of the course considers environmental problems we currently face and the driving forces behind them.  The second section examines the relationship between ideology and the environment. Finally, we ask what we might do to move towards ecological reorganization, that is, towards social relationships with the environment that are more stable and sustainable.

Wealth, Power, and Privilege (SOCIO 541)

This course is about stratification- a societal system that ranks categories of people in a hierarchy in which they have various levels of access to that society's "goodies," such as wealth, power, and privilege.  Social class, gender, and race/ethnicity are key categories used to determine access to these goodies and our course is organized around those axes.  Our primary focus will be on the stratification system in the United States.  The course concludes with an exploration of the ways in which systems of stratification can be challenged.

Sociology of Women (SOCIO 545)

This course is designed to introduce you to women's status in contemporary U.S. society.  We will examine biological, psychological, and social constructionist explanations for gender differences in behavior and various outcomes in U.S. society.  Educational, workplace, family, and other outcomes of gender inequality in the United States are explored. Additionally, students learn how gender can be performed and subverted, and how gender relations are changing. Throughout the course, particular attention is paid to intersections of gender, race, class, and sexuality.

Bureaucracy in Modern Society (SOCIO 546)

Examines how bureaucracies are organized and the impact they have on society. Topics include Roman Legions, prisons, lethal bureaucracies in Nazi Germany and Rwanda, the U.S. Army in Vietnam and Iraq, Ford Motor and the assembly line, MacDonald's and fast food chains, sports teams and the will to win, and the music industry from Jazz to Rap.

Criminology (SOCIO 561)

The criminological imagination:  A scientific lens that examines the acts and people that come to be defined as criminal.  Upper-division course for majors and others who seek to understand expert evidence in how crime is defined, explained, and regulated. This course addresses basic concepts, theories, and research methods used in the study of crime, with an emphasis on critical perspectives on crime as a social phenomenon.  The course provides an overview of the nature and extent of major categories of crime as well as the integration of current issues dealing with crime.

Social Construction of Serial Murder (SOCIO 562)

Not for the weak of heart.
"Look down on me, you will see a fool.
Look up at me, you will see your Lord.
Look straight at me, you will see yourself."  (C. Manson)
Winter intersession and distance education only; students critically analyze serial murder as a social and public phenomenon, including true crime genre representations.

Internships (SOCIO 567/568/569)

Get hands on experience in an occupation of your choosing! Students may earn up to 13 hours of internship credits through participation in an Internship Orientation/Professional Seminar, and an actual Internship. Participating agencies include: state and local law enforcement, corrections, and social service agencies. Outside of state and local agencies, federal law enforcement agencies also provide opportunities for students to learn the ropes.

Racial and Ethnic Relations (SOCIO 570)

We live in an increasingly interconnected and diverse world, and yet ethnic and racial inequality and conflict remain critical problems in many societies across the globe.  In this course students explore various sociological approaches to the study of racial and ethnic relations generally, with a concern for patterns of inequality (primarily in the U.S.), as well as their causes, consequences, and possible solutions.  Students also examine the historical and cultural aspects of group identity, and the contexts in which social groups negotiate and construct identities through social interaction.  Goals for the course include developing an open-minded and thoughtful approach to studying processes of identity construction and historical structural patterns of racial and ethnic inequality.  This involves understanding how race has been and continues to be socially constructed, while at the same time having very real consequences for all members of society.

Corrections (SOCIO 580)

This course studies the historical development and current status of the correctional system.  Major institutional components include jails, prisons, probation, parolee, and other forms of community corrections.  Modern issues such as offender and victim rights and electronic monitoring are also covered.

Gender, Power, and Development (SOCIO 633)

This course analyzes various models of development and their impact on the lives of men and women in different societies. What is development? Who, and in what sense, can be considered "developed," or "undeveloped"? How did the "development" perspective come into being? What are the effects of development on gender relations? Why is migration of women from poor to wealthy countries increasing? What factors account for differences in ratios of men to women in Kuwait, India, and Russia? Why does technological development reduce the role of women in agriculture? Why do women predominate as workers in factories in export-processing zones? The course begins with an overview of key terms, concepts, and theories relevant to the study of gender and development. We then turn to learning about economic, cultural, and political forces that affect gender relations in different cultures, and the link between gender, development, and social change. Finally, we will look at how non-governmental organizations, states, and various social movements have been both successful and unsuccessful in tackling development challenges.

Women and Crime (SOCIO 665)

This is an upper-division undergraduate/graduate course dealing with a selected topic within the broad spectrum of criminology: women and crime. We deal with three topics over the course of the semester. First, we look at women as offenders, both from an empirical and a theoretical perspective. By and large, mainstream criminological theory has tended to ignore women or see them as somehow pathological for NOT engaging in the number and variety of crimes men commit. We then look at women's experiences as victims, focusing specifically on violence in social context. Finally, we look at women's experiences as workers in the legal/criminal justice system.

Diversity and Social Interaction in the Workplace (SOCIO 670)

Diversity Delta focus reflects the latest in diversity research and application in a changing world economy; includes hands-on project that profiles a workplace in action.