Social and Political Systems

Michelle Cromwell, Ph.D.
Cynthia Miller, M.A.

The B.A. Program in Social and Political Systems is designed for students interested in developing a deeper understanding of the social and political world in which we live - social issues, social change, political events, and government. The program provides a solid grounding in the methods and perspectives that are relevant to examining and acting on contemporary social and political problems. The core courses of the program introduce the concepts of social and political systems - the relationships of people in their communities, from the family and neighborhood to the global arena. These courses also provide experience with the process of social research, understanding and analyzing public policy, and the power of activism for social change that links local and global issues. In the selection of electives, the student focuses her interests and applies her skills in the area that is most meaningful to her. Through these courses, plus an internship and a capstone seminar, students develop the analytical skills and the substantive knowledge necessary for continuing leadership and learning in their community and profession.

Major Requirements

SPS 101 Introduction to Social and Political Systems
SPS 211 Special Topics in Public Policy
or
CHC 200 Healthcare Policy
SPS 220 Local Action-Global Change
SPS 381 Methods of Social Research
SPS 382 Practice of Social Science Research Methods (4 credits)
SPS 490 Senior Seminar
SPS 495 Senior Internship

Electives (six courses)
The student selects a focus for her study by choosing six courses from those listed below or others approved by the program faculty. Two of the electives must be at the 300-level.
Students can focus their studies in a number of ways, depending on their interests and professional objectives—political science emphasizes studies of power, law and government; sociology and anthropology focus on communities, cultures and social change; a world systems focus examines global political and economic relationships and the processes of interaction; a focus on law and criminal justice brings together learning from disciplines across the major, including political science, sociology and psychology. The groupings listed below are examples of courses that can be clustered to create a focused course of study.

Focus on American Political Systems and Policy

PS 101 Introduction to Politics
PS 111 American Government and Politics
PS 201 Comparative Politics
PS 211 American Foreign Policy
PS 231/331 Women in Politics
PS 241 The American Legal System
PS 313 Campaigns and Elections in the United States
PS/WS 245 Women and the Law
SO 330 Power and Privilege
SPS 305 Social Movements and Social Change
CHC 200 Healthcare Policy

Focus on Community Systems

AN 101 Cultural Anthropology
AN 220 Culture, Health, and Healing
SO 201 Social Problems
SO 216 Making Morality: The Social Construction of Conformity and Deviance
SO 225 Sociology of Sport
SO 240 Work, Leisure, and Society
SO 250 The Nature of Prejudice and Discrimination
SO 252 Crime and Delinquency
SO 310 Family in Society
SO 320 Health, Medicine, and Society
SO 330 Power and Privilege
SPS 150 Peace and Conflict Resolution
SPS 305 Social Movements and Social Change
SO 391 Sociological Theory
CHC 100 Introduction to Community Health

Focus on International Systems

AN/IDS 120 Communicating Identities in the Global Culture
AN 220 Culture, Health, and Healing
AN 320 Topics in Developing Areas Studies
PS 131 International Relations
PS 201 Comparative Politics
PS 211 American Foreign Policy
PS 232 The United Nations
PS 310 International Organizations
PS 315 International Political Economy
SPS 150 Peace and Conflict Resolution
LS 230 World Geography
EC 302 International Economics

Focus on Law and Criminal Justice

IDS 141 Law, Literature, and Popular Culture
PS 111 American Government and Politics
PS 241 The American Legal System
PS 248 Family Law and Children’s Justice
PS/WS 245 Women and the Law
SO 201 Social Problems
SO 250 The Nature of Prejudice and Discrimination
SO 252 Crime and Delinquency


All students are encouraged to take additional courses from throughout the college curriculum that support their goals, such as study of a language other than English, Microeconomics or Macroeconomics, Biology courses such the “Biology of HIV/AIDS”, or Psychology courses, such as “Counseling and Interviewing.” SPS majors with a strong focus in sociology and interest in professional work in criminal justice or human services are encouraged to pursue a minor in Psychology or in Counseling. In addition, students are strongly encouraged to take CO 101 Public Speaking, CO 201 Persuasive Speaking, EN 208 The Art of Advanced Prose Writing.

Minor Requirements

A minor in Social and Political Systems empowers a student with perspectives and tools for social analysis and social change. A broad perspective on communities, encompassing both local and global meanings, enhances the student’s ability to act meaningfully in the world. The minor provides preparation for careers ranging from human services to law to social activism.

SPS 101 Introduction to Public and Political Systems
SPS 211 Special Topics in Public Policy
SPS 220 Local Action–Global Change
Two additional courses from Political Science, Social and Political Systems, or Sociology.