Courses by semester

Courses for

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
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.

Full details for SOC 1101 - Introduction to Sociology

Fall, Spring, Summer.
SOC1120 FWS: Educational Inequality and Reform Efforts in the U.S.
Do schools ameliorate or perpetuate social inequality in our society? What education interventions are poised to make the biggest impact for students and their achievement? This course will explore the history of K-12 education in the U.S. with an emphasis on reform efforts taken over the past four decades and during the coronavirus pandemic. We will draft and revise papers on topics such as: the achievement gap; vouchers, school choice, and charter school systems; standardized testing and school accountability; and alternative teacher licensure programs like Teach for America. This course will equip students with the skills to interpret social science research, write compelling academic papers, and craft informed responses to arguments in the news or popular media about schooling and society.

Full details for SOC 1120 - FWS: Educational Inequality and Reform Efforts in the U.S.

SOC2070 Social Problems in the United States
"Social Problems in the U.S." teaches students how to think like a social scientist when encountering claims about major contemporary issues. Through readings and assignments, students develop an analytical toolkit for evaluating the scope, causes, consequences, and proposed solutions to a wide range of complicated social problems, such as: childhood poverty, racial segregation and discrimination, job insecurity, family instability, discrimination by sexual identity, unequal pay for women's work, gender imbalances in family life, health disparities, food insecurity, drug abuse, and educational inequality. Rather than cover all of these (and other) social problems in depth, the course emphasizes a conceptual framework that can be applied broadly. The semester culminates with a written proposal examining a social problem and developing an approach to address it with public policy.

Full details for SOC 2070 - Social Problems in the United States

SOC2090 Networks
This interdisciplinary course examines network structures and how they matter in everyday life. The course examines how each of the computing, economic, sociological and natural worlds are connected and how the structure of these connections affects each of these worlds. Tools of graph theory and game theory are taught and then used to analyze networks. Topics covered include the web, the small world phenomenon, markets, neural networks, contagion, search and the evolution of networks.

Full details for SOC 2090 - Networks

SOC2202 Population and Development
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.

Full details for SOC 2202 - Population and Development

SOC2220 Controversies About Inequality
In recent years, poverty and inequality have become increasingly common topics of public debate, as academics, journalists, and politicians attempt to come to terms with growing income inequality, with the increasing visibility of inter-country differences in wealth and income, and with the persistence of racial, ethnic, and gender stratification. This course introduces students to ongoing social scientific debates about the sources and consequences of inequality, as well as the types of public policy that might appropriately be pursued to reduce (or increase) inequality. These topics will be addressed in related units, some of which include guest lectures by faculty from other universities (funded by the Center for the Study of Inequality). Each unit culminates with a highly spirited class discussion and debate.

Full details for SOC 2220 - Controversies About Inequality

SOC2250 Schooling and Society
The primary goal of this course is to understand the relationship between education and society, with an emphasis on exploring educational inequality. To accomplish this, we will ask questions such as: What is the purpose and product of schools? How do schools reproduce social class, racial, and gender inequality? What is the relationship between education and future success? How are schools structured? What factors increase educational success? To answer these, and related questions, we will use classical and contemporary sociological theory and research. The course culminates in a research project of each student's own choosing.

Full details for SOC 2250 - Schooling and Society

SOC2370 Race, Racism, and Public Policy
Public policy is a fundamental mechanism for addressing the most vexing and important social problems of our time. Racial inequality and structural racism are chief among such problems. Policy is thus widely understood and frequently touted as a means for redressing the harms of racism. Yet, public policy has also been identified as a channel through which racism flows. These seemingly paradoxical understandings of the relationships between racism and public policy raise critical questions about equality, democracy, the economy, and politics. This course examines such questions. questions. We begin by theoretically grounding key concepts such as "race" "racism" and "public policy." We then consider the historical record, highlighting the fundamental role of racism in shaping politics and policy. Next, we build on these conceptual and historical foundations through thematic investigation of core policy elements (e.g., policy design, policy implementation, policy feedback), key policy institutions (e.g., legislatures, parties) and significant policy actors (e.g., social movement organizations, interest groups). Finally, the class wraps up with a series of policy "deep dives" involving close examination of specific policy domains (e.g., housing, health, the enviornment). This course provides students with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary to better understand the realities and complexities of race, racism, and public policy in the United States.

Full details for SOC 2370 - Race, Racism, and Public Policy

SOC2580 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

SOC2810 Migration: Histories, Controversies, and Perspectives
This introductory course introduces students to issues and debates related to international migration and will provide an interdisciplinary foundation to understanding the factors that shape migration flows and migrant experiences. We will start by reviewing theories of the state and historical examples of immigrant racialization and exclusion in the United States and beyond. We will critically examine the notions of borders, citizenship/non-citizenship, and the creation of diasporas. Students will also hear a range of perspectives by exposing them to Cornell guest faculty who do research and teach on migration across different disciplines and methodologies and in different world areas. Examples include demographic researchers concerned with immigrant inequality and family formation, geographic perspectives on the changing landscapes of immigrant metropolises, legal scholarship on the rights of immigrant workers, and the study of immigrant culture from a feminist studies lens. Offered each fall semester.

Full details for SOC 2810 - Migration: Histories, Controversies, and Perspectives

Fall or Spring.
SOC3160 Gender Inequality
The course will explore gender inequality from a social structural framework, connecting it with inequality in other intersecting areas of social life such as race, class, and sexuality. It fits with the departments strengths in the study of inequality and focuses on a key area of sociological study (gender) in relation with other intersecting structures such as race, class, and sexuality and intersecting domains such as work, family, and politics. It will also give students an opportunity to explore sociological thinking and sense of how social scientists thing about evidence, what the standards of evidence are in the social sciences, and the promises and shortcoming of various methodological tools for studying the social world.

Full details for SOC 3160 - Gender Inequality

SOC3250 Neighborhoods, Housing, and Urban Policy
This course considers the dynamics of housing markets and neighborhoods in American metropolitan areas and the public policies designed to regulate them.  In the first part of the course, we examine the social and economic forces at work in metropolitan neighborhoods, focusing on trends in spatial inequality, segregation, and neighborhood effects. In the second part of the course, we examine the historical evolution of federal and local policies related to subsidized housing, homeownership, and land regulation and analyze empirical debates surrounding the effectiveness of such policies.

Full details for SOC 3250 - Neighborhoods, Housing, and Urban Policy

SOC3360 Evolving Families: Challenges to Public Policy
Examines the social institution of the family, challenges to the institution's well-being and stability, and the role of public policy in these transformations. Topics include family structure and responsibilities; marriage as a traditional building block of the family and challenges to the institution of marriage, including divorce, nonmarital childbearing, cohabitation, and same-sex unions; children, and the impact of family change on their wellbeing, including the effects of child poverty, maternal employment, and paternal involvement. The role of public policy in managing and shaping these developments is discussed.

Full details for SOC 3360 - Evolving Families: Challenges to Public Policy

SOC3750 Classical Sociological Theory
This course introduces the classics in sociology – primarily works by Karl Marx, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, and Georg Simmel. Students will also study some works of Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, Jane Addams, W.E.B. Du Bois, Talcott Parsons, members of the Chicago School of Sociology, and others. Special emphasis is placed on the concepts, ideas, and analytical approaches that characterize the foundations of sociology, and how those elements have informed the broader scholarly dialogue in sociology since its inception.

Full details for SOC 3750 - Classical Sociological Theory

SOC4110 Religion and Social Life
Global conflicts, raising children, electing presidents, praying for a loved one: from the mundane to the extraordinary, religion plays a significant role in social life, regardless of whether or not one considers oneself "religious." In this course we will investigate religion and its impacts in society from a sociological perspective. Questions we will ask include: How does religion "fit" into society? What are the contours of contemporary religion in the United States and around the world? How do religious identities interact with other aspects of social life, including gender, race and politics? In what ways have religions and religious life changed over time? As social scientists, how can we best study religion? The course will use examples from a variety of religious and secular traditions to help us understand religion's sociological significance in the contemporary world.

Full details for SOC 4110 - Religion and Social Life

SOC4120 Health and Social Context
What is health? What does it mean to be "healthy" (or not) in today's world? How does health (or illness) shape an individual's identity and relationship to other people and institutions? This course grapples with the social underpinnings of health and has two main components: substantive and practice. First (substantive), we will explore core concepts and methods from the research areas of medical sociology and population health. We will read a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research on topics such as disease, reproductive health, sexuality, public health, medicalization, inequality, and activism. These readings spread across 3 thematic units: (1) what is health?, (2) health disparities, and (3) politics of health. Second (practice), we will focus on research design and writing. You will develop your own research question about the relationship between social context and health and will spend the semester collecting and analyzing data, drafting and revising your results, and polishing and presenting your social science research. This course is supported by Cornell's John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines as a "Writing in the Majors (WIM)" course. As such, our aim is to integrate learning about our topic and developing our skills as writers in advanced undergraduate courses across the College of Arts & Sciences.

Full details for SOC 4120 - Health and Social Context

Fall, Summer.
SOC4290 Moving Pictures and a Changing Society
American society has evolved dramatically over the last century while retaining distinctive ideals and social tensions. Rural communities have given way to digital worlds, pork barrel politics to polarization, and fixed conceptions of sexuality to fluid ones. At the same time, the country is marked by a longstanding celebrity culture, frontier mindset, and enduring conflicts around class, race, and gender. The course seeks insight into complex patterns of social change through the lens of film. Each week we watch a movie made in a given historical period, and read from the sociological literature of that period. The course travels about a decade per week, covering films from the Silent Era up to the present, watching films such as Modern Times (1936), Double Indemnity (1944), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The President's Analyst (1967), Taxi Driver(1976), She's Gotta Have It (1986), American Beauty (1999), District 9 (2009), Her (2013).

Full details for SOC 4290 - Moving Pictures and a Changing Society

SOC4540 Fascism, Nationalism and Populism
This course a offers comparative political sociology of democratic and non-democratic institutions in the United States and beyond. Topics will include nationalism, fascism and populism. My focus will be contemporary politics but we will also look at historical fascism. Students will write seminar papers that are based on class exercises.  It will be a hands-on seminar with multiple course materials—scholarly articles, films, novels, and the occasional guest lecturer.

Full details for SOC 4540 - Fascism, Nationalism and Populism

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.

Full details for SOC 4580 - The Science of Social Behavior

SOC4910 Independent Study
This is for undergraduates who wish to obtain research experience or to do extensive reading on a special topic.

Full details for SOC 4910 - Independent Study

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.

Full details for SOC 4950 - Honors Research

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.

Full details for SOC 4960 - Honors Thesis: Senior Year

Fall, Spring.
SOC5010 Basic Problems in Sociology I Fall.
SOC5180 Social Inequality: Contemporary Theories, Debates, and Models
This course serves as an introduction to contemporary theories, debates, and models regarding the structure of social classes, the determinants of social mobility, the sources and cases of racial, ethnic, and gender-based inequality, and the putative rise of postmodern forms of stratification. The twofold objective is to both review contemporary theorizing and to identify areas in which new theories, hypotheses, and research agendas might be fruitfully developed.

Full details for SOC 5180 - Social Inequality: Contemporary Theories, Debates, and Models

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.

Full details for SOC 5190 - Workshop on Social Inequality

Fall, Spring.
SOC6010 Statistics for Sociological Research
This course provides an introduction to analytical approaches in quantitative sociological research. The class will cover data description and graphical approaches, elementary probability theory, hypothesis testing, bivariate and multivariate linear regression, and data analysis and interpretation. Although the course will be taught using basic mathematics and statistics, I will develop the topics intuitively throughout the course. The class is geared towards sociological thinking--all homework and class examples will use real data and focus on questions from the social world. The course covers the basic building blocks of quantitative data analysis with the goal of training students to be informed consumers of quantitative social science research. This class is also the starting point for students interested in using quantitative methods in their own research.

Full details for SOC 6010 - Statistics for Sociological Research

SOC6050 Social Demography
The objective of this course is to provide a conceptual overview and technical "tool-kit" for studying population issues and public policies. What is a demographic perspective?  And how can it be applied usefully to important domestic and international policy issues of the day (e.g., housing segregation, health and retirement, labor mobility and immigration, and above- and below-replacement fertility, school projections, etc.). The course will introduce students to various demographic data sources (e.g., decennial census and periodic fertility surveys), conventional measures (e.g., fertility rates and measures of poverty/inequality), and conventional demographic techniques (e.g., life tables, rate standardization, and population forecasting) used in social demography.  For the most part, the course places the emphasis on the appropriate application of demographic tools and on scientifically-sound interpretations.

Full details for SOC 6050 - Social Demography

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.

Full details for SOC 6080 - Proseminar in Sociology

Fall, Spring.
SOC6130 Logics and Methods of Sociological Research
This course will expose students to ethnography, experiments, small-N comparison, content analysis, archival research, internet data scraping, data visualization, network and sequence approaches, and more. We will begin to answer the following core questions: What are the strengths of different methods? What are their weaknesses? What assumptions about research design issues are built into each method? What assumptions about the scientific status of sociology are built into each method? How can different methods be combined so that their strengths and weaknesses balance one another?

Full details for SOC 6130 - Logics and Methods of Sociological Research

SOC6300 Interdisciplinary and Global Approaches to Culture
Culture is now constitutive of social science analysis across a range of disciplines: sociology, economics, political science and anthropology. Culture is a staple of comparative analysis either historical or present day. Methodological variety as well as rigor characterizes cultural research and analysis. This graduate seminar will introduce topics, have where appropriate guest speakers and ask students to design potential research projects.

Full details for SOC 6300 - Interdisciplinary and Global Approaches to Culture

SOC6420 Sociology of Diffusion
Diffusion - the spread of social practices - is of central interest for the way it combines attention to social structure and social change. The course reviews theory and method in both classic and contemporary diffusion studies. Theoretical perspectives include choice-theoretic ideas about the gains to mimicry under uncertainty, network analysis of the relational structures that facilitate diffusion, and institutional accounts of the way actors interpret and normalize social practices. Methodological approaches include analysis of the distribution of adoption times, event history models of individual adoption, spatial correlation, simulation, and process tracing. Discussion of statistical methods is introduced with a focus on concepts, and is designed to be accessible to doctoral students regardless of prior coursework in multivariate data analysis.

Full details for SOC 6420 - Sociology of Diffusion

SOC6610 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

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.

Full details for SOC 6910 - Independent Study

Fall or Spring.
SOC8910 Graduate Research
Work with a faculty member on a project that is related to your dissertation work.

Full details for SOC 8910 - Graduate Research

SOC8950 Thesis Research
Work with chair of your committee on your dissertation work.

Full details for SOC 8950 - Thesis Research