Course: SOC101
Instructor: Starr
F 2015

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

As a prerequisite to major in sociology, this course primarily establishes a foundation for students to begin to understand and analyze the most essential topics of the field. With sociology being a relatively new field of study (as compared to, say, the study of physics), the goal of the course is to have students try on the sociological mindset, which entails recognizing, labeling, and evaluating many of the social patterns we live through daily. This practical aspect of the course makes it very accessible to students from a variety of backgrounds, and it is certainly a platform of academia that welcomes a range of personal perspectives. Indeed, precept discussions give students the space to draw from their own experiences in order to enrich the main themes of the course, which include (1) the trends in social order, (2) how that social order is established, and (3) the (in)equalities that result from that order.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

The lectures, though fairly large in size, are engaging and interactive if you sit towards the front and can catch the eye of the lecturers. Note that these lectures supplement readings more often than the readings supplement the lectures, so preparing all assignments before coming to class is highly recommended. Doing so will help vivify the authors on paper even before many of them appear before you as guest speakers during lecture times: It is quite like reading the book before going to see the movie. And personifying sociological theories by imagining their authors is not only entertaining; it is a skill that is crucial to the study of sociology in general. It is usually insufficient to merely memorize main concepts of readings alone, without knowing who wrote them and why. Thus, acquiring knowledge in this course is a process, rather than a product – in fact, information is sure to go over your head the first time around. Eventually, though, you’ll be able to synthesize information from a wide array of topics, ranging from “anchor babies” to “leviathan” to “properties of bits.” Rest assured that all the pieces are already there for you in the readings and the lectures, and to be successful in the course, you merely have to think about how to put those pieces together.

Learning For and From Assignments

The lectures, though fairly large in size, are engaging and interactive if you sit towards the front and can catch the eye of the lecturers. Note that these lectures supplement readings more often than the readings supplement the lectures, so preparing all assignments before coming to class is highly recommended. Doing so will help vivify the authors on paper even before many of them appear before you as guest speakers during lecture times: It is quite like reading the book before going to see the movie. And personifying sociological theories by imagining their authors is not only entertaining; it is a skill that is crucial to the study of sociology in general. It is usually insufficient to merely memorize main concepts of readings alone, without knowing who wrote them and why. Thus, acquiring knowledge in this course is a process, rather than a product – in fact, information is sure to go over your head the first time around. Eventually, though, you’ll be able to synthesize information from a wide array of topics, ranging from “anchor babies” to “leviathan” to “properties of bits.” Rest assured that all the pieces are already there for you in the readings and the lectures, and to be successful in the course, you merely have to think about how to put those pieces together.

External Resources

There aren’t any long-term assignments for this course, as the midterm and final assessment are both in-class essays. Therefore, being able to convey your understanding clearly and concisely under time pressure is a skill that is essential for succeeding in the course. Particularly for the final exam, the knowledge you have acquired over the semester will greatly exceed the time and space you have to articulate it on paper. This is where your ability to exercise a sociological mindset is put to the test, as this mindset will enable you to present your ideas in a scholarly and straightforward manner. Here, having spoken with your peers about the content of the course during precept – and even outside of academic hours in study groups – comes in very handy. For, prior to the final exam, you should have become very familiar with the definitions of key terms (sometimes this requires a quick Google search at first), have been able to verbally summarize the ideas of each author in alignment with those key terms, and have prodded at the evolving ifs, ands and buts of their respective arguments. Engaging in this kind of review through dialogue with peers is generally much more memorable and rewarding than studying on your own, so seek out classmates that are interested in forming study groups early on.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Although this class is required for sociology majors, it should not be taken with an attitude of obligation. The course is remarkable in that as an introductory course, it is foundational and helpful across the board – even to those who are not majoring in sociology. You will find that a number of students enrolled in SOC 101 are Juniors or Seniors who are not sociology majors because the course attractively counts towards that pesky outstanding SA distribution requirement. But if you can, take this course in your Freshman year, as it lends an authentic point of view on the experience of academics at Princeton, as you will soon begin to realize the breadth of resources and knowledge that the faculty and students on campus have to offer you. This perspective on Princeton as a sort of “untapped resource of resources” will continually inspire you to consider taking the classes and pursuing other learning opportunities that best suit your interests, regardless of their perceived level of difficulty.
Introduction to Sociology

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