GENDER STUDIES 210g
Social Issues in Gender
TTh, 9:30 - 11:00
The purpose of this class is to analyze social issues of sex, gender and sexuality, especially with the response of social and political institutions to the quest for equal rights by women and sexual minorities. As is clear from contemporary politics in the United States and other nations, issues of gender and sexuality are currently prominent and hotly debated topics. By focusing on the history and current status of issues like women's liberation, sexual liberation, and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender liberation, this class will encourage participants to think about and make conclusions about the realities of controversy and change in society.
Discussion section: 15%
Midterm Exam: 25%
Research Paper: 30%
Final Exam: 30%
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Los Angeles and the American Dream
MW, 2:00 - 3:20
Los Angeles (and more generally the Southern California region) has long been the quintessential destination for migrants in search of the American Dream. In the late 19th century, promoters heralded Southern California as a salubrious Mediterranean haven. From then until well after World War II, massive numbers of American flocked to Los Angeles, especially from the Midwest, lured by images of mild weather, citrus groves, and cheap land. Although some sought stardom in Hollywood or riches from the oil fields, most aspired to basic elements of the American Dream; a good job and a home of one's own. All along, people were coming from other countries as well; but their numbers have increased dramatically in recent decades. They too are in search of some version of the American Dream. Ironically, the place sold to millions as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow experiences earthquakes, floods, landslides, and fires. Further, many Angelenos found not the American Dream but instead racism, unemployment, and poverty. This geographical course focuses on Los Angeles, in both its mythical and realized social and physical forms. Alternative perspectives are utilized, drawing concepts from historical and physical geography as well as from economic and social geography.
Grading and Course Requirements:
Exercise One 30 points (15%)
Exercise Two 30 points (15%)
Midterm Examination 60 points (30%)
Final Examination 70 points (35%)
Discussion Section 10 points (5%)
Total 200 points (100%)
Note: The readings and assignments list may be subject to change. Please contact the department for verification.
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(formerly MDA 215gm)
Ethnicity and Place
This course investigates the concepts of ethnicity and reace and their relationship to space and place. One of the course goals is to show students how ethnicity and reace are inherently spatial processes. That means, in addition to being social, they are also spatially expressed and active forces in place-making. For example, can we fully understand various racial/ethnic groups without thinking of their neighborhoods, migration routes, homelands, or the role of territoriality in racial/ethnic conflict? Likewise, students will learn to appreciate the extent to which ethnicity and race help creat particular landscapes and a sense of place. For instance, how is it that the Southwestern landscape had become so closely associated with American Indians?
We will study these ideas in terms of both micro and macro sclaes, paying particular attenttion to issues of inequality, dominance and resistance. The course is broken into five distinct sections, each of which will consist of both theoretical and empirical material. The first part of the course will examine basic concepts. In particular, we will differentiate between race and ethnicity, and develop tools to analyze social processes from a geographical perspective. The second section will examine questions of migration and nation building, Here we will examine various theories of immigration, national identity, and the historical ethnic geography of the United States. The thrid section of the class will shift gears from the macro to the micro-scale as we study neighborhoods. Topics to be covered include residential and housing discrimination, uneven development, and a critique of the concepts of the 'inner-city' and the 'underclass'. The fourth section will address the role of place in social control and resistance. Space and place have always been fundamental to controlling a people, and likewise to acts of resistance. We will explore several cases of spatial control, including American Indians and the reservation system, and California's current prison system. In addition, we will also consider how place is critical to the development of resistance -- as in the case of white suburbanities and anti-immigrant politics. The final part of the course will look critically at identity politics in general and explore some of the strengths and weaknesses and how we might develop more humane and liberatory linkages between race, ethnicity, and place.
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Business Labor in America
MW, 2:00 - 3:20
Business, Labor, and Government are three of the most critical forces that have shaped the foundation, evolution, and current state of American society. Sometimes they have acted in cooperation with one another, sometimes in opposition. Yet America today is rife with misperceptions about the role each has played in the evolution of our nation. Cliches like "Big Business, Big Labor, Big Government, they're all the same ... bad and corrupt." Such cliches misrepresent the past, the present, and the possibilities of the future.
This course will examine a series of critical issues that have marked the development of business and labor in the United Stated from the Colonial Era to the present -- and the ways in which that development was affected by state and federal governments. One of the key goals of the course is to analyze this history from the distinct points of view of labor and business. Topics such as the use of slaves and indentured servants, the positive and negative impacts of industrialization, the role of strikes and unions, and the rise of multinational corporations will all be examined from the point of view of government officials who attempt to mediate between the two sides. In short, students will be presented a multidimensional view of some of critical issues and conflicts that have shaped the economic, social, and political foundation of our nation.
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War and the American Experience
This course seeks to prepare students for informed citizenship by enabling them to analyze the role war has played in the development of the United States as a policy and a society. In examining the causes, conduct, and consequences of America's wars, it gives particular attention to the relationship between the military, the society, and the individual. Its lectures and weekly discussion sections address four thematic questions: What was the role of war in the creation of the United States as a nation? Can war be used to extend the boundaries of democracy as well as those of the nation-state? Does the use of war to defend democracy against foreign enemies, advance or undermine the principles underlying American government and society? Finally, what should the relationship between the rights of citizenship in a democracy and the obligations of military service be? This course also asks: Is violence endemic in society? Can it be controlled - or displaced - through politically managed wars? Who in society should bear the rights - and risks - of providing for the common defense?
Students are required to complete two quizzes, two internet assignments, a critical book review, a course research and writing project, and a midterm and a final examination.
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Understanding Race and Sex Historically
MW, 10:00 - 11:50
The intention of this course is to demonstrate the historically variability of ideas around race and sexuality, issues that we sometimes take for granted and tend to assume as fixed facts with a biological base. In practice, as this course will show, societies in different parts of the world and at different times, have had radically different attitudes to these categories, and have also often linked them together, more particularly when seeking to judge -- and often condemn -- those whose practices do not resemble their own. Focusing on what is routinely called the modern period -- from roughly the late eighteenth century on -- the course will consider various ways in which sex and race have been linked in this period and in which ideas about them have been connected (often as a mechanism of blame). Rather than choosing a narrow focus on one area of the world, we will range about the globe as a means of broadening as well as deepening our ability to understand how race and sex have functioned as political and social as much as political entities in the modern world.
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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 100xg
The United States and World Affairs
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the fascinating study of relations among countries throughout our large and complex world, with special emphasis on United States foreign policy. Traditionally this subject has been conceived strictly as the study of the relationships among governments but these relations cannot be viewed in a vacuum since they are inextricably determined by other actors and factors, such as international organizations (e.g. the United Nations), multinational corporations, individuals, cultures, economics, geography, and history. All of these dimensions will be covered in each of the three parts of the course.
This subject is a broad, complex one that is constantly shifting, and evolving as scholars try to develop theories to explain it and policy makers try to manage foreign policy from day to day. This course should provide the student with a solid background both in the major trends and issues of current world politics and in the main theories and explanations used by scholars of International Relations.
The course outline follows the structure of Goldstein's textbook. Supplementary readings each week are found in a Reader that I assembled from recent articles published (primarily) in Foreign Affairs. The discussion sections will follow the outline of the course but the lectures will not necessarily follow this outline in order to include additional dimensions not covered in the readings.
In addition to the textbook assignments, each student is expected to read at least one major newspaper every day, (e.g., The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Washington Post,) and to come to class conversant with major foreign events and challenges for U.S. foreign policy. There will be snap (i.e. surprise) quizzes during the semester to test your understanding of the major international issues in the news. We will start each class with an analysis of the major international events in the news - you are responsible for initiating this portion of the class.
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JUDAIC STUDIES 211g
This course is intended as an introduction to the ethical issues arising from the Holocaust - Adolf Hitler's attempted genocide of the entire Jewish people, as well as the murder of millions of others, during the years 1933-1945. While the approach taken in many courses on the Holocaust is essentially a historical one, the aim of this class is to identify and evaluate the moral dilemmas and challenges that arise from this event. Of course ethical issues do not arise in a vacuum. Historical, sociological, and psychological factors are of supreme importance in shaping the contours within which ethical decisions are made. Proper attention will therefore be paid to these factors in determining the moral lessons that are to be derived from the Holocaust. In this way the course will achieve its objective of assisting the student in gaining an understanding of the processes and complexities of moral reasoning.
It is hoped that the approach to the class will permit the student to view the Holocaust for what it was and is - a tragedy of immense proportions, not only for the Jewish people, but also for the world. In the minds of many ethicists, the Holocaust and related events are harbingers of the most frightening tendencies inherent in an evermore rational, impersonal, and bureaucratically-oriented world. The grading scheme will be as follows:
* Midterm Examination 25%
* Research Paper 30%
* Final Examination 25%
* Discussion Section 20%
Note: The assignments listed here may be subject to change. Please contact the department for verification.
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Language, Society and Culture
TTh, 9:30 - 10:50
This course will look at language as it creates and responds to its cultural and social environments. In it, we will explore (1) how language both reflects and creates social meaning and social identity, (2) the interesting differences in language that are found across variouscultures and social groups, (3) the reasons for the continous existence of reginal and social varieties of a language alongside a variety of greater prestige, (4) the coexistence of more than one language in the same territory, and (5) the practical workings of language in public settings, particularly educational ones.
For more information on the course, visit the instructor's course website: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~karabay/ling115/.
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Contemporary Moral and Social Issues
MW, 2:00 - 3:20
This introductory course in ethics examines some important contemporary moral controversies over the subjects of euthanasia, abortion, pornography, discrimination, economic justice, the death penalty, the environment, animal rights, and terrorism. Different people hold very firm but conflicting beliefs about these issues; is it possible to reason with each other to discover whose beliefs are correct? In this course we will objectively examine arguments on opposing sides. Be prepared to examine your moral beliefs critically. As well as challenging you to think more deeply about right and wrong and how you should live, this course will develop your critical thinking skills and your ability to argue persuasively for your moral views.
We begin with an introduction to the study of ethics, addressing questions such as: Is there a moral truth, or is morality just a matter of opinion? Does morality sometimes command that I act against my own interests, and if so, why should I obey? Before we turn to the issues themselves, we briefly examine some classic theories of morality.
There is a website for the course, where you can access updated syllabi and administrative information, at http://www.uscphilosophy.org. Follow the link to course websites.
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POLITICAL SCIENCE 130g
Law, Politics, and Public Policy
TTh, 9:30 - 10:50
This course explores a broad range of social issues through an introduction to law, courts, and judicial processes. We will begin by examining the idea of law, the nature of legal education, the selection of judges, the civil and criminal justice system, and the role of appellate courts. We will then explore a series of debates and case studies that will give us a chance to delve more deeply into the politics of law and the pursuit of justice. This course will also ask the following questions: What is "the rule of law?" Does law serve power or justice? What influences outcomes in civil and criminal justice? Was the "Independent Counsel" act a good idea? When do people deserve punishment or deserve to be held "liable" for their negligent conduct? How broad is "freedom of speech?"
Requirements: 1 short paper, 1 longer paper, midterm, final, participation.
Note: The assignments list may be subject to change. Please contact the department for verification.
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Psychological Perspectives on Social Issues
MW, 10:00 - 11:50
Prejudice and stereotypes are discussed in relation to social psychological theories and research. General theories related to inter-personal relations, attitude formation and change, conformity, reviewed. Research and specific theories of prejudice are examined in depth. Emphasis is placed on practical approaches for reducing prejudice. The concept of stereotyping (i.e. an over-simplified conception of a group or person) is explored within intimate relationships in regard to conceptions of what it means to be male and female. Finally, the idea that our own self conceptions are a form of stereotype is explored.
Readings and Assignments:
The Social Animal
A Lesson Before Dying
There are multiple brief writing assignments (1-2 pages) in which students apply analytic concepts from the course to their own lives. The discussion section focuses on these practical applications. Examinations are short answer essay. The final is not comprehensive.
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Religion and Ethical Issues
TTh, 11:00 - 12:20
The aim of the course is to enable you to become conversant with Jewish and Christian ways of addressing ethical issues, and to increase your capability to analyze critically various judgments reached abut hose issues. Since Judaism and Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant) are such major traditions in the U.S., studying the ways in which these traditions deal with ethical issues will take us straight into the heart of American culture, and the mutual influence between religion and culture.
There is no such thing as a Jewish or Christian position on any ethical issue, especially in an age where both traditions are sharply divided between "liberal" and "conservative" camps. (For example, there is often more agreement on ethical issues between liberal Jews and liberal Christians than there is between liberal and conservative Christians.) Nevertheless, there are certain Jewish beliefs and traditions, on the one hand, and Christian beliefs and traditions, on the other hand, both derived from the Bible, which deeply inform the ethical analyses of these faiths. We shall be attentive to these beliefs and traditions, directly in the first part of the course.
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MW, 3:30 - 4:50
The following course description belongs to Professor Bengtson.
In Sociology 150 we examine some of the major social problems confronting American society today: crime, violence, drugs, discrimination, environmental pollution, terrorism, the prospect of nuclear war. What can we do about these problems? What does sociological research suggest about their causes and their solution?
In this course we analyze these and other problems using the tools of sociological data and theory. We assess the public policies - laws- that have been passed in order to "solve" these problems, and explore why many of these have failed. We focus on two specific issues that may directly affect your experience as adults in the 21st Century): (1) Urban violence (will there be a repeat of the Los Angeles "riots" of 1992; (2) Population aging (will Social Security and medical care benefits be available for you when you retire?).
Sociology 150 explores contemporary social problems in three categories: (1) Issues involving individual deviance (crime, gangs, rape, sexual deviance, mental illness); (2) Problems of social inequalities (discrimination and prejudice reflected in racism, sexism, and ageism); and (3) Crises reflecting societal changes during the 20th Century (the worldwide population explosion, population aging, environmental pollution, family and health problems, war and terrorism).
The grade for the course is based on: (1) Three exams; (2) Four quizzes; (3) Discussion section participation and assignments throughout the semester; (4) JEP (Joint Educational Project) involvement; (5) Short in-class assignments accompanying each lecture. Extra credit can be earned through participation in class debates, analysis of movies and videos reflecting social problems, or a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance.
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TTh, 11:00 - 12:20
Pundits and commentators have noted that the twentieth century is ending much as for the United States. One of the ways in which it resembles the earlier part of the is the high level of immigration. Contemporary immigration, however, unlike immigration in the early 20th century, stems primarily from Asia and Latin America, and a major point of destination is Los Angeles. These developments have led to the creation of a new type of multiethnic and multiracial society, and have also given rise to vitriolic anti-immigration politics.
This course will examine the diversity of contemporary U.S. immigration and it will also scrutinize the controversial debates spawned by immigration and anti-immigrant reactions. Immigration has once again surfaced as a major social issue, and students will seek to understand the terms of these debates by preparing for and conducting in-class debates. Although we will cover diverse immigrant groups, including Hindu Indian and Middle Eastern immigrants, the course will focus on Mexican, Asian and Central American immigrants.
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Changing Family Forms
MW, 9:30 - 11:00
In this class we will explore the nature of the contemporary American family in the context of several important historical changes that have altered the very meaning of family life in America. Some of these changes are reflected in the following statistics and trends:
- Divorce: The divorce rate has doubled over the past 40 years, and over 50% of marriages entered into today will end up in divorce.
- Single-parenting: About half of today's children will spend some portion of the childhood in a single-parent family, and that more than a third will live with a stepparent.
- Non-marital births: Today, 26% of white births, 41% of Latina births, and 70% of African-American births currently occure outside of marriage.
- Women in the labor force: Today, 70% of women with young children work in the paid labor force compared to only 20% in 1950.
- Reductions in fertility: The average couple today has less than two children (not even replacing themselves) compared to the 1950s when the average couple had more than three children.
- Immigration: The increase in immigration from Latin America and Asia has widened the diversity of families today, producing a wide specturm of family structures, practices, and values.
- Population aging: Almost half of 60 year olds have at least one parent still alive, compared to only 7% in 1900, and 80% of 30 year olds have at least one grandparent still alive, compared to only 20% in 1900.
- Alternative family forms: More than four million children are being raised by their grandparents. Gay and lesbian families have proliferated, almost achieving legal status in some states.
- Government and economic policies: Due to welfare and Social Security policies, children today are more likely to be raised in poverty than are older adults, the exact reverse of the situation in 1950. Children in poverty families continue to face new challenges as a result of recent welfare reform.
These trends show how accelerated social changes over the last century years have altered many of the fundamental assumptions about the character of family life, and even the very meaning and definiton of family. Some scholars and politicians are alarmed at the ways in which the family has changed and believe that the family itself is disentigrating, while others believe that many of the changes in the family have been positive, and that the family is a resilient institution that adapts to changing social contingencies.
The purpose of this course is to explore three important questions about contemporary families in the United States: (1) How has the family been changing over ime? (2) What explanations for these changes are offered by social theories, and which explanations are most strongly suppported by empirical evidence? (3) What are the consequences of these changes for individuals in the family, the family itself, and society as whole? The point is that the statistics cited above represent aspects of undeniable, objective truth about the family as a sort of barometer of family change and continuity. However, the questions up for debate are: How did we get there? What historical and society forces have given shape to current family forms? Who are the winners and the losers in the "modern" family? Is the family at risk of disintegrating or losing its important functions as a result of social changes? Is a correction needed to put the family "back on the right track"? Or is the family meant to eveolve and change with changing societal values and conditions? How do families contirbute to the welfare of society? Addressing these questions will occupy much of our time this semester. Most often, however, there is no one set of answers to these questions, and it will be up to each student to argue his or her position -- crafting these arguments with clarity, and backing them up with empirical evidence.
For further information about the course, visit the instructor's course website: www.silverstein.pageout.net.
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