Courses by semester
Courses for Spring 2023
Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .
|SOC1101||Introduction to Sociology This course is a broad introduction to the field of sociology. Course materials are designed to illustrate the distinctive features of the sociological perspective and to start you thinking sociologically about yourself and the broader social world. To think sociologically is to recognize that being embedded in the world constrains behavior, and that individuals are both social actors and social products. To think sociologically is also to recognize that our contemporary world, with its enduring cultural, political, and economic institutions, is as much a social product as we are. We will begin by covering theoretical and methodological foundations of the sociological perspective. We will go on to explore the concept of social stratification and will survey primary axes of social difference. In the second half of the course we will look more closely at how individuals relate to each other, how social inequality is enacted and reinforced in everyday life, and at the way in which the organization of social life shapes individuals and groups, such as through social networks, residential neighborhoods, schooling, families, and on-line communication.||Fall, Spring, Summer.|
|SOC2030||Population and Public Policy Population and Public Policy exposes students to the logic and skills of demographic research and policy analysis. The course emphasizes the nature, collection, and interpretation of demographic data, the application of demographic techniques, the major components (i.e., fertility, mortality, and migration) of national and global population change, and contemporary population problems (e.g., population aging, teen childbearing, the rise in non-marital childbearing, immigrant adaptation). The course also emphasizes public policies that can influence demographic change. The format primarily involves lectures and class discussion. Students are expected to attend each class and be prepared to discuss assigned materials.||Multi-semester course: (Spring, Summer).|
What Is Science? An Introduction to the Social Studies of Science and Technology
This course introduces some central ideas in the field of S&TS. It is aimed at students from any background who are challenged to think more critically about what counts as scientific knowledge and why, and how science and technology intervene in the wider world. It also serves as an introduction to majors in Biology and Society or in Science and Technology Studies. The course mixes lectures, discussions, writing, and other activities. The discussion sections are an integral part of the course and attendance is required. A series of take-home written assignments and quizzes throughout the semester comprise the majority of the grade.
Full details for SOC 2100 - What Is Science? An Introduction to the Social Studies of Science and Technology
|SOC2202||Population Dynamics Introduction to population studies. The primary focus is on the relationships between demographic processes (fertility, mortality, and immigration) and social and economic issues. Discussion covers special topics related to population growth and spatial distribution, including marriage and family formation, population aging, changing roles and statuses of women, labor force participation, immigrations, urban growth and urbanization, resource allocation, and the environment.||Spring.|
|SOC2208||Social Inequality This course reviews contemporary approaches to understanding social inequality and the processes by which it comes to be seen as legitimate, natural, or desirable. We address questions of the following kind: what are the major forms of stratification in human history? Are inequality and poverty inevitable? How many social classes are there in advanced industrialism societies? Is there a "ruling class"? Are lifestyles, attitudes, and personalities shaped fundamentally by class membership? Can individuals born into poverty readily escape their class origins and move upward in the class structure? Are social contacts and "luck" important forces in matching individuals to jobs and class positions? What types of social processes serve to maintain and alter racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination in labor markets? Is there an "underclass"? These and other questions are addressed in light of classical and contemporary theory and research.||Spring, Summer.|
Six Pretty Good Books: Explorations in Social Science
This course is modeled after "Great Books" literature courses in the humanities, but with two important differences: we read non-fiction books in the social sciences rather than the humanities, written by highly prominent contemporary social scientists. The course title refers to the fact that the books are new, hence their potential greatness has yet to be confirmed by the test of time. We choose living authors to give students a unique opportunity: to interact with each of the six authors in Q&A sessions in person or via video conferencing. This fall some of the authors will appear in person for Q&A and the others will Skype with the class.
Full details for SOC 2580 - Six Pretty Good Books: Explorations in Social Science
Research Methods: Design and Measurement
This course introduces students to the principles of sociological research methods. We will first discuss the research process itself, then focus on issues such as the relationship between theory and empirical analysis, the logic of research design, causal inference, measurement of concepts, modes of data collection, and ethics. By the end of the course, students will be able to evaluate the methodological strength of social science research projects and design methodologically rigorous research proposals.
Full details for SOC 3030 - Research Methods: Design and Measurement
High Tech Regions in Comparative Perspective
This course focuses on the sociological histories of regional-based technology clusters. The construction and life course of the technology cluster is a prevalent form of contemporary economic development. Students enrolled in the course will regularly provide in-class presentations of select case studies of particular regions and industries. Case studies will include regional high-tech clusters in the following locations: Silicon Valley, Boston, Israel, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Great Britain, Austin, Seattle, Portland, Albany-New York, Rochester-NY, Buffalo-NY, North Carolina, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City-Cornell Tech, and regions and industries selected by students enrolled in the course. The course will utilize classical sociological themes as a guiding conceptual framework including: structuration, community, culture, social networks, and inequalities (gender/race/class).
Full details for SOC 3060 - High Tech Regions in Comparative Perspective
|SOC3170||Nationalism and Identity This comparative course explores key approaches to understanding nationalism and how it interacts with questions of identity in contemporary societies. We will first consider different theoretical approaches to the historical emergence and contemporary relevance of nationalism and concepts used to analyze its different manifestations. In the second part of the course, we will focus on the Russian Federation and the US as case studies to explore the interplay of nationalism, identity and social change in ethnically and racially diverse contexts. In this part of the course, we will use a wide range of sources to consider the impact of nationalism on politics, media, culture and everyday life.||Spring.|
|SOC3180||Health Disparities This course will examine how health disparities are defined and measured, sources of health disparities, and strategies to reduce health disparities. During the course students will learn of the complexities of factors that influence patterns of disease and health at multiple levels by analyzing studies of health outcomes, the social conditions that are related to the health of populations, and some of the mechanisms through which these patterns are produced.||Spring.|
Contemporary Sociological Theory
Introduction to the main ideas and lines of research in contemporary sociology, from the emergence of the field in the American academy to the present. We read the work of seminal theorists and researchers such as Robert Merton, Erving Goffman, James Coleman, Harrison White, and Theda Skocpol. Topics include the development of distinctive lines of argument in areas like the study of the face-to-face group, the modern organization, social movements and social revolutions, inequality, and social mobility. The course considers the relationship between intellectual challenges, techniques of social inquiry, and the social context within which ideas are put forward and take hold.
Full details for SOC 3190 - Contemporary Sociological Theory
|SOC3240||Environmental Sociology Humans have fraught relationships with the animals, plants, land, water—even geological processes—around us. We come together to revere, conserve, protect the things many call nature. We struggle over who gets to use what, which resources to use or to keep intact, which scientific claims are true and worthy of action. Every environmental concern is on some level a social concern, and more social concerns than we often realize are environmental concerns. In this course, we will examine how people make and respond to environmental change and how groups of people form, express, fight over, and work out environmental concerns. We will consider how population change, economic activity, government action, social movements, and changing ways of thinking shape human-environmental relationships. The fundamental goal of this course is to give you knowledge, analytical tools, and expressive skills that make you confident to address environmental concerns as a social scientist and a citizen.||Spring.|
|SOC3490||Micro-Macro Processes Social forms emerge from the interdependent behavior of social actors. In this course, we will draw on the Analytical Sociology tradition to understand micro-level processes that bring about macro-level outcomes that, we as sociologists, care about. This will entail an exploration of processes of interpersonal influence, diffusion, network externalities, collective action problems, and emergence of norms, hierarchies, and segregation patterns. Most of the readings of this course rely on quantitative methods such as regression modeling, field experiments, behavioral games, network analysis, as well as simple computer simulations and mathematical modeling. As such, even though this course has no formal prerequisites, students are expected to be familiar with quantitative methods used in the social sciences at the level of SOC3010.||Spring.|
|SOC3580||Big Data on the Social World This course showcases frontier research that uses big data and graphical analysis to understand our social world. Topics include inequality and opportunity, success in higher education, the gender wage gap, taxing the rich, Chinese censorship, the spread of false news, online dating, and other issues relevant to contemporary society.||Spring.|
|SOC4120||Health and Social Context This course examines how the social world gets "under the skin." We'll examine the associations between various aspects of social context – including stratification and inequality, social networks and support, and social environments – and physical health. There are two main components of this course. First, we'll read and discuss previous research on the health effects of social status, patient-physician interactions, employment/work, stress, social networks, social support, loneliness, culture and religion, and the neighborhood context. We'll consider both qualitative and quantitative research on social life and health, with an eye toward identifying the strengths and weaknesses of various methodological approaches and gaps in current knowledge. The second component of this course is focused on the development of your own research regarding the relationship between social context and health. You'll explore this using data from a population-based social survey.||Spring, Summer.|
The Ethnography of Poverty and Inequality
This course explores poverty and inequality in American society through the lens of ethnographic and other field-based research. We will read classic and contemporary texts which have shaped our understanding of how social inequality and exclusion constrain people's daily lives and how groups develop innovative responses to these constraints.
Full details for SOC 4160 - The Ethnography of Poverty and Inequality
|SOC4560||Evaluation and Society Evaluation is a pervasive feature of contemporary life. Professors, doctors, countries, hotels, pollution, books, intelligence: there is hardly anything that is not subject to some form of review, rating, or ranking these days. This senior seminar examines the practices, cultures, and technologies of evaluation and asks how value is established, maintained, compared, subverted, resisted, and institutionalized in a range of different settings. Topics include user reviews, institutional audit, ranking and commensuration, algorithmic evaluation, tasting, gossip, and awards. Drawing on case studies from science, technology, culture, accounting, art, environment, and everyday life, we shall explore how evaluation comes to order our lives – and why it is so difficult to resist.||Spring.|
|SOC4580||The Science of Social Behavior This is a capstone seminar for seniors who are interested in graduate or professional study in scientific disciplines that focus on human behavior and social interaction. The intent is to provide seniors with an opportunity to summon, integrate, and apply insights that they have acquired over the course of their undergraduate education, and give prospective graduate students the opportunity to lead discussions in a large introductory lecture course, "Six Pretty Good Books". Each seminar member is part of a two or three-person team that leads the discussion together, under the supervision of a graduate teaching assistant. Seminar meetings are devoted to building lesson plans for leading an effective discussion of each of the six books. The authors vary from year to year but include Malcolm Gladwell, Michelle Alexander, Nate Silver, and Nicholas Christakis. All authors have agreed to participate in a "Q&A" session with the students which seminar members are required to attend.||Fall.|
|SOC4910||Independent Study This is for undergraduates who wish to obtain research experience or to do extensive reading on a special topic.||Fall, Spring, Summer.|
|SOC4950||Honors Research Students choose a sociology faculty member to work with on research to write an honors thesis. Candidates for honors must maintain a cumulative GPA at least an A- in all sociology classes.||Multi-semester course: (Fall, Spring).|
|SOC4960||Honors Thesis: Senior Year Continuation of SOC 4950. Continue to work with honors supervisor and work on and write an honors thesis.||Fall, Spring.|
|SOC4980||Engaged Learning Capstone This engaged learning course offers students the opportunity to integrate and apply knowledge and skills by addressing a real-world question presented by a community partner. Students will work collaboratively on an applied research project, produce a professional report, and brief community members on the outcomes and recommendations of their research.||Spring.|
|SOC5020||Basic Problems in Sociology II Continuation of SOC 5010. Emphasis is on the logical analysis of theoretical perspectives, theories, and theoretical research programs shaping current sociological research. The course includes an introduction to basic concepts used in the logical analysis of theories and examines their application to specific theories and theoretical research programs. Theoretical perspectives include functionalism, social exchange, and interactionism.||Spring.|
|SOC5190||Workshop on Social Inequality This course provides a forum in which students and others can present, discuss, and receive instant feedback on their inequality-related research. Its primary goals is to help students advance their own research; its secondary goal is to introduce selected debates in the contemporary inequality literature in a more comprehensive fashion that is possible in the introductory graduate-level seminar on inequality.||Fall, Spring.|
Intermediate Statistics for Sociological Research
This course provides the second part of a two-semester introduction to quantitative methods in sociological research. It is designed for first-year graduate students in sociology. The course covers intermediate topics in linear regression, and provides an introduction to models for categorical and count data, the analysis of time data, and longitudinal data. We'll also discuss data-related issues such as missing data and weighting, and data that are complicated by issues of non-random design. While statistical modeling is the focus of the course, we proceed with the assumption that models are only as good as the theoretical and substantive knowledge behind them. Thus, in covering the technical material, we will spend considerable time discussing the link between substantive knowledge and statistical practice.
Full details for SOC 6020 - Intermediate Statistics for Sociological Research
|SOC6030||Graduate Research Practicum This course is designed to assist the student's professional development on a "learning by doing and feedback" basis. The course is organized around presentation and discussion of ongoing research projects. As a general rule the course welcomes auditors and all members of the sociology community interested in the variety of research being pursued at Cornell, though participation is with the permission of the instructor(s).||Spring.|
|SOC6080||Proseminar in Sociology Discussion of the current state of sociology and of the research interests of members of the graduate field; taught by all members of the field.||Fall, Spring.|
Social Network: Theory and Applications
Social Network Analysis (SNA), or the mathematical analysis of webs of relationships, is a thriving part of sociology and an active research area for numerous other disciplines. This course is intended to introduce students to the basics of SNA and help them apply it to a variety of research questions. We will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of the area, basic concepts used in SNA analyses, and finally methods for describing and interpreting network data. At the completion of this course students should have a basic understanding of social networks and be able to carry out a variety analyses on their own.
Full details for SOC 6110 - Social Network: Theory and Applications
Qualitative Research Methods for Studying Science
In this Graduate seminar we will discuss the nature, politics and basic assumptions underlying qualitative research. We will examine a selection of qualitative methods ranging from interviewing, oral history, ethnography, participant observation, archival research and visual methods. We will also discuss the relationship between theory and method. All stages of a research project will be discussed - choice of research topic and appropriate methods; human subject concerns and permissions; issues regarding doing research; as well as the process of writing up and publishing research findings.
Full details for SOC 6310 - Qualitative Research Methods for Studying Science
Text and Networks in Social Science Research
This is a course on networks and text in quantitative social science. The course will cover published research using text and social network data, focusing on health, politics, and everyday life, and it will introduce methods and approaches for incorporating high-dimensional data into familiar research designs. Students will evaluate past studies and propose original research.
Full details for SOC 6610 - Text and Networks in Social Science Research
|SOC6620||Sociology of Race and Racism|
|SOC6910||Independent Study For graduates who wish to obtain research experience or to do extensive reading on a special topic. Permission to enroll for independent study is granted only to students who present an acceptable prospectus and secure the agreement of a faculty member to serve as supervisor for the project throughout the semester.||Fall or Spring.|
|SOC6950||Spatial Demography "Spatial Demography" introduces core concepts and techniques for analyzing spatially referenced population data. Students learn about the spatial structure of social phenomenon and how to analyze and account for spatial relationships in formal analyses. We draw from examples in housing, health, and education to evaluate how populations are spatially distributed. The course covers methods for addressing spatial dependence and heterogeneity, as well as tools for describing spatial relationships (including various indices of segregation). A substantial portion of the course is also dedicated to practical skills for managing and presenting spatial data using GIS software, including geographic projections, geoprocessing, geocoding addresses, spatially joining layered data, and distance buffering.||Spring.|
|SOC8920||Graduate Research Work with a faculty member on a project that is related to your dissertation work.||Spring.|
|SOC8960||Thesis Research Work with chair of your committee on your dissertation work.||Spring.|