The Department of Sociology is offering the following special topics courses in the upcoming academic year (2023/2024):

SOCI 495B/599F Sociology of Soccer (Instructor: Gerry Veenstra)

This course applies sociological theory and methods to a range of issues in the sociology of sport literature with an explicit focus on soccer: sport histories; spectator identities; supporter culture; heterosexism, sexism, racism and classism in sport; hooliganism; celebrity athletes; pickup; and sportswashing. A typical class will be comprised of a short lecture on that week’s topic followed by in-class exercises completed collaboratively in small groups of students and then class-wide discussion of the issues raised in the exercises. The semester ends with a mini-conference where students will present to one another on topics in the sociology of soccer that build upon but go beyond the readings formally included in the course.

SOCI 495E/599D Demography of Disaster (Instructor: Ethan Raker)

Climate change is exacerbating the severity and patterning of extreme weather hazards that cause disasters. At the same time, population settlement patterns and infrastructural investments are rendering more groups vulnerable to exposure, with consequences for population mortality, morbidity, migration, and fertility. In this seminar, we examine the interrelationship between climate change, disasters, and population processes, using both sociological and demographic perspectives. Course content focuses on both the population causes of climate change and related disasters, and on the population consequences of disasters. The readings encompass both theoretical and empirical work. Particular attention will be paid to social inequalities along axes of race/ethnicity/indigeneity, socioeconomic status, and gender, and to methodological innovations, such as the use of remotely sensed data, spatial data, social media data, and administrative data.

SOCI 495F Health and Society (Instructor: Lindsey Richardson)

The course uses sociological theory and methods to examine contemporary and applied issues of health, illness, and well-being. It will have an explicit focus on three major themes: Social Identity, Social Position and Life Chances, Social Understandings and Interactions, and Organizational and Institutional Dimensions of Health. The class will balance instructor led lectures and discussion (typically the first class each week) with student-led case studies and learning approaches (typically the second class each week). Evaluation for the course will include student-led learning contributions, critical evaluations of publicly available health information, and an independent written project.

SOCI 495G/599G Climate Change (Instructor: David Tindall)

Anthropogenic climate change is arguably the greatest crisis facing humanity in the early part of the 21st Century. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that the average temperature on the earth’s surface is increasing, and that this increase is primarily a result of human activities. This course will provide a brief overview to the science of climate change, and some of the key issues in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The course will provide an overview of key sociological topics related to climate change such as inequality, the social construction of environmental issues, political economy, socialization and the formation of public opinion, media coverage of climate change, social movements, and climate change impacts on communities, and community responses. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to identify and describe at least six key substantive sociological issues related to climate change (e.g., what drives public opinion about climate change issues, what explains patterns of media reporting on climate change issues, what are the opportunities and constraints for social movements who mobilize around climate change issues), and will be able to reflect upon these issues in a comparative context. They will also be encouraged to link these insights to policy issues.

SOCI 495H/599H Sociology of Friendship (Instructor: Sean Lauer)

Friends comprise one of the core components of our intimate and social lives. They improve levels of happiness and life satisfaction and provide support, services, and emotional and financial aid. They are also prone to individualizing pressures that contribute to loneliness and isolation with direct consequences for health and well-being and can contribute to inequality. Students in this seminar will explore themes of friendship from a sociological perspective by reading current empirical and theoretical work and engaging in projects that explore themes of friendship.

SOCI 495J/599J Family and Sustainability (Instructor: Silvia Bartolic)

Everyday living is complex and the result of the interplay of dynamic living systems. Vaines (1992) has argued that our daily lives are the result of interactions with family and connections to other living systems through complex webs. Her use of the term ecology is explicitly linked to the Greek root of oikos or household (Vaines, 1985, 1992). Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory similarly describes how human development is influenced by the context of systems of relationships that form ‘layers’ of one’s environment. The goal of this course is to set the foundation for understanding how everyday living in the context of family is linked to sustainable practices. The intention is to “enable both a looking out from the family as well as a way to consider the nature of “family” and “transform our everyday practices that enable us to live with rather than damage our world home” (Renwick 2019, p.3). By taking time to build an aptitude for personal/familial sovereignty, transformative practices for sustainability emerge together with a capacity to redress human deprivation.


The following information on this page may not reflect the most recent updates. For immediate course selection and scheduling needs, please refer to the SSC.