SOCIETIES (SOC 597.01)
Dr. Ted Houghton
Office: 470G Galvin
Contemporary World Societies: Social
Institutions and Social Change (SOC 597.01)
is a seminar course in global issues. We will read and discuss a set of
articles on a wide range of issues affecting the modern world. This is an
exploration of what is happening in various regions of the globe, the
world in general, and how it impacts the United States. The course is
organized into five parts. We will focus upon geopolitics, ethnic
conflict, democracy and international intervention with particular
reference to Africa and Islamic countries and then turn to social turmoil
in the midst of global economic and political change in China and East
Asia. Globalization and human rights are major themes.
Part I: Overview of Global Issues.
Part II. Africa
Part III. International Intervention and
Part IV. The Middle East, Political Islam
Part V. Globalization Issues and the
Emergence of China
OBJECTIVES OF THE COURSE
To become familiar with major global
issues, their history and impact in the contemporary world.
To become informed about major policy
debates regarding global issues.
To make connections between the topics of
this course and content of other courses you have taken as university
To develop skills in thinking and
communicating about global issues.
The course revolves around the reading of
current journal articles, news reports and a few selected chapters from
recent books. Most readings will be accompanied by worksheets to help you
digest the material; they also serve as useful sources for test review. It
is likely that you will encounter many new terms, ideas and references to
events in these readings that you have not encountered before. As you read
and do the worksheets, keep a running list of those terms, ideas and
events that you want clarified. Bring them up for discussion in class.
Time will often be allowed specifically for answering these kinds of
Class and Attendance:
Class time will be used in a variety of ways. There will be a few
lectures, discussions of the readings and a series of videos.
Lecture and discussions will presume
and build upon the readings, so it is essential that you should read, do
the worksheets that accompany most readings, and be prepared to discuss
them BEFORE the class for which they are assigned.
Lectures will give topical overviews
and often contain material not in the readings. The worksheets will be a
focus of some in-class activities.
Regular attendance will be necessary.
Contribution to class discussions on a regular basis may also influence
grading (i.e. you may receive additional points if you are on the border
of receiving a higher grade).
INITIAL OUTLINE; SCHEDULE OF READINGS (WORKSHEETS)
No worksheets for the first week’s readings. In
following weeks, reading worksheets due on day reading is scheduled.
Schedule modifications may occur as course progresses; updates will be
PART I. OVERVIEW OF GLOBAL ISSUES
PART II. AFRICA
PART III. INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION , HUMANITARIAN AID
PART IV THE MIDDLE EAST , POLITICAL ISLAM
PART V. GLOBALIZATION ISSUES AND THE EMERGENCE OF CHINA
SOME POSSIBLE TERM PAPER RESEARCH TOPICS
Use these as starting points. You may modify them. You can also come up
with your own topic to be cleared with me before preliminary outlines are
political unity in [any ethnically troubled country] threatened?
are the prospects for peace and democracy in
[choose any strife-torn country].
were the reasons for and what have been the effects of international
intervention in [choose any troubled
are the positive contributions and/or negative aspects and problems (if
any) of [any international
non-governmental organization (INGO) or related group of these]?
current trend toward free trade and global economic integration
are the advantages and/or disadvantages of increasing global governance
over the international economy?
does globalization affect local cultures?
globalization undermine the sovereignty and power of nation-states?
world become a more dangerous place since the end of the Cold War?
ethnic groups have the right of self-determination even though they are
within the borders of a sovereign country?
increasing democracy be the ultimate value and goal for all countries?
there be one standard of democracy and human rights in the world?
is most important: state sovereignty or universal human rights?
should be done about the growing number of refugees in the world?
help or hinder the ending of slavery in Africa?
help or hinder the ending of conflicts in Africa?
the United States enlarge or abandon its superpower role?
United Nations an effective and/or needed organization?
the United States opposed the International Criminal Court and should
in the interests of the United States to cooperate with the United
Nations in international interventions?
peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts of the United Nation effective?
economic sanctions work and are they justified?
a permanent UN military force be established?
Islamic Fundamentalism a threat to world political stability?
Islam and democracy mix?
policy to be blamed for political upheavals in the Middle East?
U.S. foreign policy increased the danger of international terrorism?
current policies in the War on Terror be effective or cause other
there universal human values?
China a threat to future peace?
China's admission to the World Trade Organization a problem?
China be treated as a violator of human rights?
foreign policymakers minimize human rights concerns?
the trend toward globalization be reversed?
environmentalist, labor and anti-capitalist protests against
globalization increased or decreased inequalities in developing nations?
globalization and free trade increased prosperity in
[choose a developing country or countries].
the relationship between multinational corporations, international
investment and government in [any less
developed country or countries]?
International Monetary Fund (IMF) alleviated or caused political and
economic turmoil in [any IMF client
country or countries]?
multinational corporations a force of development or exploitation in the
less developed world?
corporations be allowed to benefit from exploiting child labor in other
countries be concerned with the treatment of children within other
are the realities of children's rights in
[choose a country or countries]?
are the realities of women's rights in
[choose a country or countries]?
trade liberalization be made conditional upon the labor standards of
global free trade policies be pursued at the expense of immediate local
jobs and business?
developed countries increase aid to less developed countries?
immigration be restricted?
in the interest of the United States to participate in international
the relationship between environmental ethics and international
the U.S. government give foreign aid to reduce world population growth?
TERM PAPER ASSIGNMENT
STATEMENT OF PAPER TOPIC (BY WEEK 8 OR BEFORE)
1. A paragraph
identifying and describing the topic and policy issues.
2. A tentative
TERM PAPER DUE
LAST WEEK OF CLASSES
descriptive, analytical paper
In general, the
more specific you make the topic, the better for a short paper. The paper
should focus upon societies outside the United States, international
issues and organizations, global processes, or it may deal with US
society, policies and action in a significant international or
cross-national context. If your interest is in a general global phenomenon
and transnational in nature, it may be useful to focus your research upon
how it impacts a specific country, region, organization or policy. In
general, the paper should include:
Summarize what you will be writing about.
Body of the
relevant history, social and political conditions pertaining to the
topic or events about which you are writing.
facts and events in a coherent fashion: How did it start? How did it
progress? How did it end?
cause and effect relationships: Why did situations come about?
What is the significance of the events? What broader implications can be
drawn from them? What meaning may these events hold for current actions
and policies? What are future prospects for the situation? ETC.
generate political, social, philosophical and ethical controversy. They
cannot be ignored and entail the necessity of taking definite positions,
pursuing definite lines of action and making hard policy choices. You may
either (1) argue in favor of a specific change in social, political or
economic policy, or (2) defend and support current policy in relation to
specifically proposed alternatives. Paper should include these main parts:
Give a clear definition of the issue.
various sides of the controversy.
policy change or the current policy meets the need.
position in light of relevant theory and evidence.
advantages and possible disadvantages of your position.
End with a
strong conclusion that will convince the reader that the change you
propose should be adopted, or that the current policy you support should
All papers will be graded for
thoroughness, depth of research, effectiveness of arguments, proper use of
supporting theoretical and empirical material, grammar, spelling and
syntax (clarity of exposition). Clear, well-written presentation is a
Length: 5-8 pages,
word-processed, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman.
As a general rule, the paper should
reference 4 or more separate, mainly current library sources (books,
scholarly journal articles, "reputable" magazines, and "reliable" web
sites). References must be properly cited and included in a bibliography.
Plagiarism is not tolerated and easy to
detect. All sources must be properly quoted and referenced.