courses and syllabli


Associate Professor of Sociology
Westminster College
New Wilmington, PA 16172
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An introduction to the concepts and methods used in the systematic study of society, including a discussion of what is distinctive about the sociological perspective (Offered every semester).

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An examination of the various forms and systems of social inequality in human societies, with attention to the mechanisms that perpetuate inequalities, ideologies that legitimate them, and possibilities for social mobility. Particular focus is on social class inequalities in the contemporary United States, and the social problems of poverty and homelessness.  

Here are some useful Social Inequality links:

  • http://www.Trinity.Edu/~mkearl/strat.html  "Social Inequality" section of Trinity University's "Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace."  Much information on theory and measurement of inequality, beliefs about its legitimacy, lifestyle differences for people in different social classes, international comparisons, etc.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau: Enormous volume of information on everything from ethnic groups to divorce rates to income inequality.
(Asian boy photo from Unicef site on the Progress of Nations 1996


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A study of the cultures and social structures of preindustrial societies, including contemporary developing countries and indigenous societies.  Special attention is given to cultural diversity, different conceptions of societal development, and historical relationships between industrial and preindustrial societies.  

Here are some of my favorite URL links which focus on indigenous cultures around the globe:

  • a cybercommunity for the indigenous people of the world, including an extensive resource center
  • information on natural resources, history and culture of the Arctic Circle region, including an art, photography, and anthropology museum, and a discussion group
  •  Cultural Survival: Based in Cambridge, MA, this organization “promotes the rights, voices and visions of indigenous peoples” around the world.  Their goals are to increase understanding of indigenous cultures, to empower indigenous peoples and to partner with them in advocating for their human rights.  There are links to the organization’s programs in different regions, the organization’s journal and newsletters, film reviews, announcements of local and international indigenous events, and issues needing immediate citizen action.
(Red Cloud Visual by


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This course examines the contemporary situations of women in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, with particular attention to how their economic, political, family and religious roles and dominant cultural ideologies influence their worldviews, opportunities, and experiences.  Particular attention is paid to how women themselves construct and experience their lives in various cultural contexts.  The experience of societal development within these nations, and its particular consequences for women, will be highlighted throughout.  (Offered every other year).   

  • United Nations - Womenwatch:  The central gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women within the UN system.  Includes links to the Commission on the Status of Women, international instruments and treaty bodies, including CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women), critical areas of concern from the 1995 Beijing Conference Platform, including poverty, domestic violence and armed conflict, statistics and indicators in documents and publications (some are downloadable), and women’s issues in particular regions and countries. 
  • Link to Women of the World for links to UN publications, from statistical source books to fact sheets, on women in particular regions and countries.  Topics covered include agriculture, health, refugees, population issues, and the Millennium Development Goals.


  • Feminist Majority Foundation:  The foundation aims to promote women’s empowerment through education, research and action.  See especially the links to Global Feminism and the Feminist Internet Gateway (its “global” link).  There is a Take Action Online option for addressing immediate threats to women’s rights. 
  •  SAWNET (South Asian Women's NETwork):  Comprehensive coverage of South Asian women's issues, with heavy coverage of India, and Asian Americans in the U.S and Europe.   Well-organized and aesthetically-pleasing, this site has information on legal issues, domestic violence, film reviews, children's books, newspaper articles, South Asian women's organizations, and more.

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A survey of dominant traditions in classical and contemporary social theory, as derived from their social context.  This course is a preparation for more specialized study in sociology (Offered every fall).

This is Max Weber, one of the founding fathers of the discipline and a premier theorist.  Weber was concerned about the "rationalization" of modern society, by which more and more of our behavior and social organization is governed by principles of efficiency, predictability, and nonhuman control.  Of modern society, he proclaimed: "Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved."
(Weber photo from - Trinity University's "A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace")

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A study of religious belief systems, organizations, and movements as they derive from and influence a social context.  Special attention is given to the growth in membership and social influence of both evangelical and fundamentalist religious forms and of new religious movements, commonly known as cults.  The debate over secularization is another central theme (Offered every other year).

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In the first semester of the Capstone course, students relate a substantive topic of their choice to the major theoretical and methodological schools in Sociology and the existing research literature.  The result is a major research proposal which will be executed in the Fall (Offered every Spring semester). 

In Sociology 602, students build on their proposal to conduct a significant research project which also is presented in a college-wide forum (Fall semester).

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An introduction to the nature and processes of social science inquiry.  Particular attention is given to designing social science research projects, and to techniques for gathering, analyzing, and communicating data from both primary and secondary sources.  The course is intended to increase the student's ability to understand published studies, and to enhance student research skills (Fall semester).

  • The U.S. Census Bureau:  Exhaustive information on U.S. population indicators, including birth and death rates, migration patterns, regional characteristics, and much more.
  • Social Science Research Council: Fellowships, programs, publications, scholarly exchanges and more available through this interdisciplinary international organization dedicated to promoting research in all of the social sciences.
  •  World Database of Happiness (!) -  As the description of the site in "Research Resources for the Social Sciences" indicates, this is not an Orwellian Institute or a religious cult headquarters, but rather survey results on life satisfaction around the globe!

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An introduction to the liberal arts for first-year students.  Readings and discussion focus around the topics of Values and Methods of a Liberal Arts Education, Ways of Knowing, and Multiple Cultural and Intellectual Perspectives.  Students also learn library, other information technology, and presentation technology skills, and sharpen their abilities in writing, verbal communication, thinking, including critical thinking, and problem-solving (Offered every fall).





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