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Fall 2013 Montgomery College Department of Social Sciences Takoma Park-Silver Spring Campus Lecturer: Sahar D. Sattarzadeh Office: CM 202 (mailbox) Office Hours: By appointment only Phone: 202.642.4782 Email: Course Schedule: Tues & Thurs Time: 5:00 p.m. - 8:05 p.m. Location: Commons (CM), Rm. 113 Website:

Course Description This course will offer an introductory analysis of social problems that are rooted in various issues, including social and economic inequality, injustice, urbanization, crime, demographic change, terrorism and environmental issues. Sociological theory and research are used to examine the impact of globalization, culture, institutions, ideology, social policy, and social movements on various societal issues, fundamental sociological concepts, methods, and theories used to interpret the practices and behaviors of human society. Special emphasis will be made in understanding the parallels between theory and practice in examining social interaction, cultural diversity, social structure, and issues relevant to domestic and global affairs particularly with regard to critical thinking and social change. Course Objectives In this course it is expected that students will:  Acquire a general understanding of sociological theory and content within the context of social problems;  Learn about the definitions and implications of social problems and issues within both local and global contexts;  Develop an understanding of how to apply sociological imagination in order to move beyond the self;  Advance their capacity to apply sociological perspectives and strategies;  Strategize and engage in discourse addressing social problems and the identification of solutions;  Build a tolerance for a reasonable degree of ambiguity;  Understand basic research methods and approaches;  Learn to be patient with themselves and with their peers;  Embrace a growth-oriented perspective and a humble posture of learning;  Appreciate and understand the reality of the diversity of perspectives, values, beliefs, attitudes, and experiences that exist within and outside of the classroom;  Refine skills in critical thinking, reading, writing, and analysis; and  Strengthen and apply strategies and tools for presentational purposes and public speaking. Required Text/Readings There is no “required’ text for this course. However, students will be expected to complete a variety of readings and alternative assignments which will be made available in class and/or through the course website ( On occasion, the instructor may introduce/reference additional cases during class sessions to supplement and complement the readings.

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Course Structure Although this course is categorized as a “lecture,” this course promotes a learner-centered approach and a collaborative space for students to engage in discourse and discussion about social problems and issues. Likewise, the instructor may introduce periodic presentations that either complement or amplify the assigned readings. Group discussions of the readings selected for the meetings will follow. All students are expected to read the required readings and to participate in these discussions. Interactive and participatory activities during as well as outside of class time will also be implemented from time to time to keep students engaged and active in the learning process. Students will also be expected to sometimes utilize information and communication technologies (ICTs), the Web, and social/new media in their assignments and/or final research projects as they see fit. Classroom Conduct & Expectations of Students Class meetings are for you to discuss the readings and class topics with the instructor and the other students, to clarify and explore arguments, and to figure out what sociology is all about. The role of the instructor is to facilitate this conversation. Students are expected to complete all assignments required in the course and to be respectful to themselves, their classmates, and the instructor at all times. Student Evaluation & Grading Students will be evaluated on the basis of six outputs: their attendance and class participation (5 percent); their informed participation based on reading assignments in seminar discussions (10 percent of the grade); their performance on class assignments and blogs (20 percent); their production of the midterm exam (25 percent); their leading role in one classroom session (10 percent); and their performance on the final (30 percent). The standard grading scale as recognized by Montgomery College will be applied as follows: 100-90% 89-80% 79-70% 69-60% A B C D

There are no opportunities for extra credit granted in this course. Assignments Students will write weekly journal logs addressing assigned readings, assignments and class discussions related to the course content. Assignments will involve a combination of individual participatory activities, video presentations, in-class group activities, and writing assignments. The critical analysis paper (3-5 pages) should reflect on a reading about a social problem, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. The final group research paper and presentation (8-10 pages) will highlight a social problem and a proposed solution/social change issue. Guidelines for both the midterm paper and final research project will be distributed prior to the assignment deadlines. Papers should be submitted in both hard copy and electronic formats to the instructor on the appointed date and time. Papers will be graded on the following criteria:  Coherence of paper organization and development;  Depth of description and analysis;  Incorporation of coursework knowledge;

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 

Use of pertinent bibliography (complete and up to date); and Clarity and precision of writing.

All papers should comply with standards of academic paper presentation (i.e., APA style). APA formatting guidelines are accessible via: and The instructor is available to help students with writing style formats. Additionally, the Writing, Reading and Language (WRL) Center provides quality services for students who need further assistance and guidance. Course Readings All reading assignments must be completed by their respective due dates. A critical understanding of the assigned readings calls for: discussing the key points of the paper, its strengths and weaknesses, an assessment of the importance of the topic, and an identification of new issues or questions for further debate. Guidelines for the production of all assignments, midterm paper, and final research project will be provided in advance. Facilitation of Classroom Reading Discussions Working either in pairs/groups, students will be responsible for facilitating a class discussion (15 minutes) for one reading assigned during the semester. Each pair/group will be responsible for: 1) presenting a brief summary of the reading and 2) develop two questions for class discussion. Questions must be submitted to the instructor one week prior to the scheduled date of the reading due date. Weekly Blog Journal Every Friday (by 11:59 p.m. EST), students will be required to post a blog journal entry on the course website ( about a particular social problem/issue on a weekly basis. The post will thoroughly address the following: 1. A social problem or issue related to the theme of the week; 2. A justification of why this particular social problem/issue was selected; 3. An explanation of how this social problem/issue is relevant to the student AND to society; 4. A description of the actions taken/that could be taken by the student to personally address/work on this social problem/issue; and 5. Pose a question to classmates and instructor that is relevant to the blog post for the week.1 Critical Analysis Paper The critical analysis paper is an exercise to assess students’ critical thinking skills and their knowledge and understanding of sociological imagination. Guidelines will be provided in advance. Exams This course will include two exams—a midterm and a final. The midterm will last approximately one hour. The final exam is based on a group research paper and presentation, and it will include both an individual grade and a group grade. Attendance This class is meant to be an interactive experience; thus, attendance and participation are crucial and required as part of your grade (please see above). To earn full credit in this area, students are
Students are required to respond to at least three blog posts by the following Wednesday of every week. For example, if a blog post is submitted on Friday, November 1, student responses are due on Wednesday, November 6.

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expected to contribute to discussions by reading, preparing, and participating in class discussions. Simply showing up to class is not sufficient, but it is definitely a necessary first step. Since this accelerated course duration is approximately eight weeks-long, students are expected to be on time and not disrupt others. Tardiness will result in a deduction of points from the grade for attendance (please see above). Make-up Policy Make-up exams are very rare and should be arranged in advance. If a student misses an assignment or exam without prior notice, follow-up with the instructor immediately. There will be no make-up exams unless students have a college-approved excuse with appropriate documentation. Late Policy It is expected that all assignments and papers are turned in on time by the assigned deadline. If students anticipate not meeting deadlines, then students should plan in advance accordingly. Late assignments/exams will not be acceptable unless specific arrangements have been made with the instructor in advance. Audit Policy Students auditing the class are expected to adhere to attendance and late policy guidelines. Those who do not may be dropped. “Audits” may do assignments, take midterm exam, and final project, but they are not required to do so. Academic Honesty All students are expected to abide by the code of academic honesty throughout this course. Academic dishonesty and misconduct, including (but not limited to) cheating, forgery, copying, fabrication, and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be reported to the Dean of Student Development and result in an “F” grade. The full text of the policy is available in the Student Code of Conduct on the web at: Support Services Montgomery College offers many services (career development, advising and counseling, assessment services, Social Sciences Computer Center, Writing, Reading, & Language Center, disability services, etc.). Full information is available on the college website. Disability Services A student with a documented disability or any other special needs who wishes to discuss academic accommodations should contact the instructor as soon as possible. A letter from Disability Support Services (DSS) authorizing students’ accommodation will be needed. The DSS office is located on the first floor of the ST building in room 133 and may be called at 240-567-1480 or 240-567-1475 (TTY). More information is also available on the DSS website: Inclement Weather & Other Campus Closures If campus is closed, there will be no class, and any activities will be rescheduled for the next class day. For information about campus closures due to weather or other emergencies, call 240-5675000 or check the College’s Web site at Any closures or delays, due to inclement weather or other emergencies, will be announced on the homepage.

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Religious Observances Students will not be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs. Whenever possible, students will be given reasonable time to make up any academic assignment that is missed due to participation in a religious observance. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance. Notice should be provided as soon as possible, but no later than the end of the schedule adjustment period. Prior notification is especially important in connection with final examinations, since failure to reschedule a final examination before the conclusion of the final examination period may result in loss of credits during the semester. Course Schedule Week Theme Introduction to Social Problems I 1 Introduction to Social Problems II Thursday, October 24 Date Tuesday, October 22 Reading(s) Due *** 1. “The Promise” (Mills, 1959); 2.“The Art of Savage Discovery…” (Ryan, 1971) 1. “The Fragmentation of Social Life…” (Eitzen, 2000); 2. “Capitalism, Class, and Matrix…” (Johnson, 2001); 3. “Consumer Culture” (Holt, 2005) 1. “Neoliberalism as Creative…” (Harvey, 2007); 2. “The Making of International Migrants” (Sassen, 2007) 1. “The New Media Giants…” (Crotreau & Hoynes, 2006); 2. “Tripping Up Big Media” (Beckerman, 2003) Assignment(s) Bring a one-sentence definition of social problem to the next class.

Fragmentation of U.S. Society

Tuesday, October 29


Fragmentation of Global Societies

Thursday, October 31

Blog entry due (Friday)



Tuesday, November 5

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Gender-Based Inequality

Thursday, November 7

War & Violence

Tuesday, November 12


Poverty & Wealth

Thursday, November 14

Workforce & Labor Markets 5

Tuesday, November 19

The Health Care Industry

Thursday, November 21

1. “Reviving Lolita? …” (Merskin, 2004); 2. “Welfare Reform in the United States…” Blog entry due (Abramovitz, 2006) (Friday) 3. “Violence Against Women in Indigenous…” (Rowland & Carnegie, 2011) 1. “Poverty, Inequality…” (Kramer, 2000); 2. “Learning War/Learning Race…” (Kromidas, 2004); 3. “Combat Casualties…” (Gifford, 2005) 1. “Poverty and Inequality in the…” (Yates, 2004); 2. “An Midterm Understanding of Blog entry due Poverty…” (Friday) (Collins, 2003); 3. “Child Labor in Bangladesh…” (Salmon, 2005) 1. “America Transformed” (Hytrek & Zentgraf, 2008); Research proposal 2. “21st Century due Slaves (Cockburn, (beginning of class) 2003); 3. “Aquí estamos y nos…” (Robinson, 2006) 1. “Pills, Power, 1. Critical analysis People…” due (8:05 p.m., (Busfield, 2006); EST) 2. “Tango 2. Blog entry due

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Criminal Justice 6

Tuesday, November 26

Immigrants in …” (Viladrich, 2005) 1. “Crime” (Tonry, 2005); 2. “Prison Health …” (Williams, 2007); 3. “The Global Impact …” (Hagedorn, 2005) *** 1. “Nature’s Trust…” (Wood, 2007); 2. “Katrina and Power …” (Dreier, 2006); 3. “Integrating Environmental Justice …” (Morello-Frosch, Pastor, Jr., & Sadd, 2002) TBD Final presentations (in class) No class scheduled


Thanksgiving Holiday

Thursday, November 28

Blog entry due (Friday)

Environment 7

Tuesday, December 3

Social Change & Movements Final Presentations 8 Final Paper

Thursday, December 5 Tuesday, December 10 Thursday, December 12

Blog entry due (Friday) *** Final paper due (8:05 p.m., EST) Blog entry due (Friday)

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