Social and Political Systems

SPS 101
Introduction to Social and Political Systems
This course introduces the study of social and political systems, emphasizing human interactions in various types of communities: local, national, and international. Students engage in their own explorations of communities as they learn and apply the concepts of power, identity, and governance. Projects include collaborative work, presentations, field research, and written analyses. Fall and Spring. Group: II or IDS.

SPS 150
Peace and Conflict Resolution (S-L)*
This is an introduction to the broad field of peace studies and conflict resolution. The course explores three themes: the causes of conflict and violence between and within communities; the uses of nonviolent action in conflict situations; and methods of conflict resolution. The course also involves a practical application of conflict resolution perspectives and techniques through a service project for the College or the larger community. Spring. Group: II or IDS.
*Designated as a Service-Learning course. See the Service Learning course section.

SPS 211
Special Topics in Public Policy
Selects a single topic to illustrate the processes and controversies of social policy formulation. Focus varies with each course offering. Topics might include: AIDS, domestic violence, poverty, and/or drugs. Spring 2012 and alternate years. Prerequisite: Any of the following: SPS 101, PS 101, or permission. Group: II.

SPS 220
Local Action—Global Change
Local communities around the world are facing similar problems, regardless of which part of the globe they inhabit. This course focuses on a selection of broad issues and the questions and struggles inherent in them; topics include human rights and social justice, homelessness, and AIDS. The class explores the local and global manifestations of these problems and develops “action plans” for addressing them. Fall. Prerequisites: SPS 101 or permission. Group: II or IDS.

SPS 305
Social Movements and Social Change
Examines the role of organized social movements in promoting social change. Considers theories of social movements, along with an analysis of their life cycles. Examples include: environmentalism in the US and elsewhere; ethno-regional movements in Europe, North America, and South Africa; sub-cultural movements, e.g., the pro-choice and anti-abortion movements. Fall 2013 and every third year. Prerequisite: Any one of the following: SPS 101, PS 101; or permission. Group: II.

SPS 381
Methods of Social Research
This course introduces students to the social science research process. We will examine the nature of social science research and describe the methods that set it apart from our more common sense attempts at human inquiry. Toward this end, we will engage in a community-based research (CBR) project. CBR is research that is conducted by, for, or with the participation of community members. CBR begins with the identification of research topics by community members. In forming a partnership with an academic institution, community members, faculty, and students work together as a research team at all stages of the research process. Collectively, the research team frames the research question, operationalizes the variables that will be examined, weighs research design alternatives, details sampling techniques to be utilized, collects and analyzes data, and disseminates the results of their work. Fall and Summer. Prerequisite: Any one of the following: SPS 101, PS 101. Group: II.

SPS 382
Practice of Social Science Research Methods (4 CREDITS)
This course builds on the skills and knowledge of SPS381. Students will hone skills related to social science research by conducting an independent research project as well as a collaborative community based research project with a community organization of their choice. Students will work with a community partner to identify a problem plaguing their organization and develop a set of research questions, identify the variables to be examined, weigh research method alternatives, collect and analyze data, and disseminate the results of their work in a comprehensive report to be presented to the community partner at the end of the semester. Students will also design the skeleton of the project for their senior project. Spring. Prerequisite: SPS 381, or permissionGroup: II.

SPS 490
Senior Seminar
This course is a capstone seminar for the B.A. in social and political systems. Students actively engage in the current debates and research related to the social and political studies program. Each year the substantive focus of the course varies, but may include topics such as immigration, welfare reform, or the relationship between democracy and violence. The course involves a significant independent research project that contributes to the student’s College portfolio. Fall. Prerequisite: Senior status. Group: II.

SPS 495
Senior Internship (6 credits)
Provides students with firsthand experience in professional settings related to sociology and/or political science (e.g., social service and government agencies, research, nonprofit organizations). At an appropriate site, students apply and evaluate theories learned in the two disciplines, and acquire new skills that promote career development. Involves 16 hours a week at the placement site, a weekly seminar focusing on common perspectives and work-related issues, relevant and individual presentations. Spring. Prerequisite: Senior status. Group: II.