SOC 2—SOCIAL PROBLEMS
                            Sierra College –Liberal Arts Division
Spring 2008                          ONLINE                                      Course #01637
Joseph Farrelly, Instructor                     Instructor’s email:
Text: Social Problems Third Edition, John J. Macionis                                    3 Units

Course Description: Sociology 2 Social Problems is the advanced course in Sociology to
discuss current social problems. The social problems seminar emphasizes a critical approach
to the questions of contemporary social issues. Ideally, all students should have taken and
passed Sociology 1 (Introduction to Sociology) prior to taking this course because they should
know the basic concepts, theories, and ideas of Sociology before they take the Soc 2 class in
order to do well.

Specific Objectives:
The student will be able to, through oral and written work:
   • Describe, discuss and evaluate connections between public issues and private troubles.
   • Research social problems.
   • Analyze and discuss the impact of global capitalism on personal lives in various
   • Examine and evaluate social problems from the progressive, critical or social conflict
   • Discuss and analyze social problems in work and unemployment, resource allocation,
      wealth and poverty, corporate malfeasance, and the distribution of life chances.
   • Discuss, analyze and evaluate causes and solutions to these social ills.
   • Examine, discuss and debate issues of social justice.
   • Examine the uneven distribution of global power.

General Format: This online course includes lectures, discussion via the electronic
discussion board, written assignments, reading assigned chapters from a textbook, and other
readings on social issues and current events. There will be one written assignments/video
critique, two mid-terms and a final exam consisting of objective and short answer essay ques-
tions. Changes to readings, paper requirements, and examination details may be announced
on the class website.

Participation: Other than the assigned readings and homework, all of the activities of this
course will occur online via the Blackboard website. There is no requirement for students to
appear physically at specific times on campus. The time commitment for students in an online
class is comparable to attending a typical classroom course. That is, students should plan to
log onto the Blackboard website at least 3 times a week on average for online activities and
discussions. In addition, students should expect to devote up to a total of 6 more hours per
week doing off-line homework, activities, writing, doing research, and reading the assigned
chapters of the textbook. Students will need to keep up with both the assigned reading and the
online activities in Blackboard each week. Online activities will include responding to lectures
posted on the website by posting contributions to the discussion board, and completing the
written assignments and/or watching videos and writing critiques. It is important that students
understand that an online course is not less work or total time commitment, but rather the
main difference is that students in the online class will have more flexibility with regard to the
specific times of the week these activities can be done. It is important that students try to do all
assignments in the week they are posted and due (or very soon after). Students need good
self-discipline and strong time management skills to perform well in an online class, and
experience shows that if a student falls behind in an online course, it is extremely difficult to
catch up.

The online lectures are brief, and illustrate or expound upon the chapter(s) of the textbook
assigned for that week. Reading the lectures will help students focus in on the portions of the
course material that are most likely to appear on the exams. The lectures are purposely
intended to be provocative, and to stimulate lively debates and comments on the discussion
board. The key to successful participation in this class is discussion among the students
through the electronic discussion board. Student need to post salient comments that contribute
to the critical analysis of each week’s topic in a timely fashion. The quality of discussion board
participation and homework will be assessed and constitutes 1/4 of a student’s overall grade
for the course. In all such discussions, students are expected to be respectful and open to the
variety of values, experiences, and ideas of others. Students must abide by the guidelines in
the Sierra College student handbook and the Instructor’s policies. Follow the hyperlink that can
be found on the Course Information button in Blackboard.

Contact Information & Office Hours: The Instructor will check email and will log onto the
Blackboard website often to retrieve messages, monitor the discussion boards, grade
assignments, and upload new materials. While the Instructor will usually log on quite often,
students should not presume daily availability, and therefore expect immediate replies to every
email or question. Due to the high volume of emails and course activities, students may
experience a delay of up to several days for a reply or answer. Students should re-contact the
Instructor if more than 4 days have passed without a specific reply. In some instances, instead
of an individual email reply, questions of general interest to the entire class may be answered
in an announcement or a public section of the Blackboard website.

The best way to contact the Instructor is to use the email link within Blackboard to send an
email to Because this is an online course, there are no regularly
scheduled in-person office hours. However, students who live in the local area can contact the
Instructor to make arrangements to meet in person or talk by telephone at a specific time.
Alternatively, the Instructor has created an online chat identity on Instant Messenger (AIM) that
will permit students who also have an IM account to “meet virtually” via a pre-arranged private
or small group interactive chat session by emailing the Instructor to set a “chat appointment”
on a specific day and time. Chat information will be posted in the Course Information section of
the website.

Grading: Grades are computed as an average of the written assignments, the midterm and
final exams, and discussion board participation, as follows:
          • written assignment/video critique = 30%
          • 2 mid term exams @15% each = 30%
          • homework & discussion board participation = 25%.
          • final exam = 15%;

Academic Honesty: All students are expected to abide by the College’s guidelines for
academic honesty outlined in the student handbook. Cheating on a test or submitting someone
else’s work as one’s own may result in a permanent, non-removable failing grade for the
course. Students must provide only their own work products and the output of their own
thinking and intellectual effort on any test or written assignment submitted for credit. All quoted
or paraphrased sources used in term papers must be fully and accurately cited using the
appropriate format. A guide to writing term papers with information on appropriate/acceptable
formats is available on the course website.

Supportive Materials – The textbook author’s interactive website is a valuable resource that
supports the course ( It includes many
supportive materials and sample test questions that will help students learn more and earn a
good grade in the course. Because a heavy emphasis is on reading the textbook and lectures,
it is important that students do more than just run their eyes over the words. To do well,
students need to grasp the material. The best way to be sure they are absorbing the material
well (and thus do well on exams) is to give themselves self-quizzes from the textbook author’s
website. Those who do not do well on the self-quizzes should re-read the chapter and/or
lecture materials, highlight the text, change the time or environmental conditions when the
reading and class activities are performed, or use a combination of these strategies to
enhance learning and retention. To further reinforce key subject matter, there are also many
supportive multimedia learning resources and exercises on the CD-Rom that comes with the

Quizzes and Examinations: The midterms and final exam will consist of short answer essay
questions plus randomly-selected objective questions (true-false, multiple choice, etc.) All
exams will be administered online and will focus primarily (but not exclusively) on key concepts
and critical analysis of material previously covered in both the textbook and lecture. Generally,
students must read the lectures and the textbook and participate in the Blackboard online
activities to do well.

Technology: Because the computer is such an important tool for an online course, to
maximize all of the features of Blackboard and some of the multimedia materials, ideally
students should have relatively new and capable computer hardware and software. The
minimum requirements however are fairly low and are described in the college’s distance
learning handbook. (Follow the link in the Websites section of Blackboard). Plain text
descriptions may substitute for photos or PowerPoint presentations for students whose
hardware or software cannot display certain materials. Also, because computers can (and
often do) crash and peripherals can fail, students are reminded to keep backup copies of all
documents they prepare in case of computer malfunctions and unexpected data loss. The
Instructor is not responsible for the failure of the student’s computer or his/her neglect to
backup important files. A failed computer or problems with one’s ISP will not be an acceptable
excuse for late submissions, missing assignments, poor performance, etc., nor will computer
problems or lack of backups be justification for a late withdrawal from the course. Students
should be certain they keep a backup copy of every key document, and prearrange access to
an alternate computer (library, internet café, etc.) in case their primary computer fails.

                     Course Schedule Fall 2008 Online: Course code: 01637
                               Sociology 2 – Social problems
We will cover the following chapters of the textbook “Social Problems” Third Edition 1 [Macionis]
in the listed order:

Week        Date Range         Topic                                                Reading Assignment

  Students may be able to save money by purchasing a used copy of the second edition of the textbook because
the books are quite similar; however, the student is responsible for identifying any differences in the materials or
the order of the chapters. Always use topics rather than chapter numbers.
      Available    Introduction & course requirements       Syllabus & intro
       after 1/7                                            materials
1    1/14 – 1/19   Sociology & Studying Social Problems     Chapter 1
2    1/22 – 1/26   Poverty & Wealth                         Chapter 2
3     1/27 – 2/2   Race & Ethnicity                         Chapter 3
4     2/3 – 2/9    Gender                                   Chapter 4
5    2/10 – 2/14   Aging                                    Chapter 5
     2/15 – 2/18   President’s Day - mini-break
6    2/19 – 2/23   Crime, Criminal Justice, &Violence     Chapters 6 &7
                   Midterm exam 1 must be taken Thursday 2/21 or Friday 2/22
7    2/24 – 3/1    Sexuality                              Chapter 8
8     3/2 -3/8     Alcohol & Drugs                        Chapter 9
9    3/9 – 3/15    Health & Mental Health                 Chapter 10
     3/16 – 3/22   Spring Break
10   3/23 – 3/29   Economics & Politics, Work &           Chapters 11 & 12
11   3/30 – 4/5    Family, Marriage and Religion          Chapter 13
                   Midterm exam 2 must be taken Thursday 4/3 or Friday 4/4
12   4/6 - 4/12    Education                              Chapter 14
                   Term Paper due by Friday 4/11
13   4/13 – 4/19   Urbanization                           Chapter 15

14   4/20 – 4/26   Population                               Chapter 16
15   4/27 – 5/3    Technology & Environment                Chapter 17
16    5/4- 5/8     War & Terrorism                         Chapter 18
                   Final exam must be taken on Thursday 5/8 or Friday 5/9

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