Contemporary Social Issues
Recent events and social changes have redirected public thinking about some of our social issues. Due to initiatives in California, Texas and Washington, D.C., affirmative action has lost much of its potency. Welfare has become primarily a state program, federal assistance to non-citizens has fallen, and many of those who once viewed HMOs as the solution to soaring medical costs now see them as something very different—profit-motivated businesses that often deny important tests and treatments in favor of reducing costs.
Other trends contribute to public misgivings as well. Mega mergers and advances in technology encourage corporate downsizing; these same changes create new jobs that offer low pay and limited upward mobility. Governments at every level struggle to balance budgets without overburdening taxpayers. Meanwhile, crime, drugs, shortcomings in the educational system, environmental disasters, homelessness, population growth, poverty, racism, sexism, declining urban infrastructure and violence all create great disparities between the American ideal and American reality.
Contemporary Social Issues introduces students to some of the social problems that face us in modern society. Throughout the class, students explore different sociological perspectives and address issues such as the changing demographics of the U.S., gender inequality, utopian and dystopian societies and the environment. Students are then asked to review, reflect and write about how each of these topics affects their lives either directly or indirectly.
Pervasive social problems stimulate extensive sociological inquiry, and a class that covers such a topic prepares students for success in academics as well as later in life. This course offers a series of provocative questions and approaches to possible solutions that allow students to think critically about what the world of tomorrow may be like. Most importantly, students will leave the class at the end of the session with a fuller understanding of what it means to exist in the modern world.