To see a full list of the latest course offerings in Sociology, review the WFU Course Bulletin.
Featured Course Descriptions
SOC 303: Business and Society with Dr. Ian Taplin
Business in any society is influenced by social, political, and cultural forms in addition to the economic imperatives that define the behavior of managers. In this course, we shall study the most significant forces (external and internal) in the environment of business so as to understand what changes are occurring, how the “rules of the game” are being altered, and how this modifies the role of business (especially large corporations). This involves an understanding of the ways in which a firm’s organization, policies, strategies, procedures, decision processes, plans, and controls are changing in response to such forces. We also examine the changing work relations between employers and employees, as well as the broader implications of all these changes on local communities. In doing all of this we shall examine key features that are currently controversial, from issues such as de-industrialization and its effects on jobs to the financial
SOC 320: Sociology of Sports and Art with Dr. Joseph Soares
Seminar on social forces that structure the production and consumption of sports and arts. Topics may include differences between American and world football; how cultural capital determines engagement with the arts. Gender, racial, and social class disparities in sports and the arts are explored. Who plays and who profits from the game?
SOC 321: Sociology of Contested Past with Dr. Joseph Soares
Seminar on how societies remember their past and why it matters to contemporary social relations. Topics include case studies of commemorative practices on Nazi Holocaust, America’s Civil War, and the relation of American universities to slavery. Members of this class were the first to discover and commemorate Wake’s auction of 16 enslaved people for the sake of its first endowment.
SOC 382: Sociology of the Lifecourse
taught by Dr. Yaqi “Sam” Yuan
This course is an introduction to the theories and research associated with the life course perspective in sociology. The life course perspective incorporates a life-long perspective on human development, in recognition of the developmental processes undergone by individuals throughout their lives, and emphasizes the continuities that exist between early-life circumstances and later-life outcomes.
The life course framework is based on four central themes: the intersection of history and biography, the salience of links to significant others and between different life domains (e.g. work, family), the role of individuals in shaping their own life trajectories within social constraints, and the significance of the timing of events in one’s life. Two additional themes have more recently been added as well: diversity in life course trajectories and developmental risk and protection. This course will provide an overview of the principles of the life course perspective and of some of the life course research being conducted. More importantly, it will provide a new way of thinking about, and critically examining, social phenomena.
SOC 383: Opioids in American Society
taught by Dr. Alexandra Brewer
This course considers the current opioid crisis in its social, cultural, and historical context. Our inquiry will begin in the mid-19 th century with the Opium Wars and the Civil War, will move into the 20th century to consider the jazz age, counter-cultural movements, and the war on drugs, and will conclude with an analysis of the opioid epidemic. throughout the semester, we will explore the ambivalent role of opioids in American society, asking, What makes some opioids pharmaceuticals and others drugs? When is opioid use medicalized and when is it criminalized? When is it glamorized and when is it stigmatized? Why are some opioid users understood as “deserving” and others as “undeserving” of public support? We will examine how gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and class intersect with opioid use and will interrogate the narratives constructed around different social groups as they come into contact with these substances. In addition to academic texts, course materials will include journalistic accounts, memoirs, obituaries, music, podcasts, films, and television. We will also engage with our community by speaking with local harm reduction advocates and by participating in a community service project.
SOC 384: Crime, Law and Immigration
taught by Dr. Andrea Gomez Cervantes
The U.S. is home to the largest immigrant detention and deportation system in the world, with over 3.1 million immigrants under government control just in 2019*. However, the incarceration, deportation, and surveillance of immigrants and asylum seekers is not unique to the United States nor is it new. In this class, we will investigate the following questions:
- What is the role of the law in the production of the U.S. immigrant-detention system?
- Are immigrants who are incarcerated indeed “criminals”? if not, why are they treated as such?
- Who are the key actors benefiting from the immigrant-detention system?
- How do these processes in the U.S. compare to other countries around the world?
- What are the consequences for immigrants, nonimmigrants, and their communities?
- What are immigrants and citizens doing to justify, legitimate, or resist this system?
SOC 390: Defund, Transform, Abolish? Reimagining Justice taught by Dr. Brittany P. Battle
The summer of 2020 saw unprecedented calls for criminal legal system reform following the movement against anti-Blackness, police brutality, and white supremacist violence. In the wake of continued social unrest, we are in a critical moment where it is increasingly necessary to reimagine public safety, law enforcement, and justice. In four decades, the incarcerated population has grown exponentially, increasing by more than seven times. This explosive growth has become unsustainable economically, and from a practical standpoint, highlights some of the most pressing social issues which the nation currently faces. Penal institutions have become the country’s response to mental health issues, addiction, disability, homelessness, and extreme poverty. In this course, we will examine historical and contemporary calls to abolish the carceral state. We will read seminal works from abolitionist thinkers, folks with carceral experiences, and social scientists. We will examine the dimensions of the prison industrial complex and map the (re)production of the carceral state. Lastly, we will (re)imagine justice together, embarking on the journey to develop communities of care that are resourced to address issues of inequality.
Sample Syllabi for Select Courses
The following are syllabi for some of the recently taught courses in the department. These syllabi illustrate the general themes likely to be covered in these courses, but readings and assignments will vary by semester.