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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Barbara F Reskin
SOC 401
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Sociology

Selected topics of contemporary interest taught by a sociologist active in the field. Topics vary and may be substantive, theoretical, or methodological.

Class description

This class focuses on a specific topic within the general area of social stratification: race and affirmative action in higher education.

Students will learn about how racial inequality across major social institutions has created barriers to access to higher education for some groups.

The course will look at these issues within the context of the current Supreme Court cases involving admissions to the University of Michigan undergraduate school and the University of Michigan Law School. Class begins the day that each side in the University of Michigan cases present their oral arguments to the Supreme Court. Shortly after spring quarter ends, the Supreme Court will issue its rulings in these cases.

By considering general issues of racial stratification in the context of the Michigan cases, students will have an opportunity to learn how the United States in general and the legal system in particular has addressed (and failed to address) racial inequality through social policy.

Students will also learn how the judicial process operates, so the class should be of interest to students considering law school.

This class is a writing class. Students will learn to use social science evidence to write policy memos. Class members will learn to revise their written work, based on help from the professor and the Sociology Writing Center. These skills should be very useful in the workplace.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

A combination of lectures and discussion about class materials. Participating in class is an important part of the learning process; this is not a good class for people who want to learn the material exclusively through the readings.

Recommended preparation

The class is geared toward Sociology majors who are juniors and seniors. Students need some knowledge of sociology to do well.

Class assignments and grading

1. Reading sociology research articles, excerpts from legal briefs, newspaper accounts. 2. Writing both short reaction and experiential papers and a longer policy

Grades will be based primarily on written work (including improvement in work that is revised) and secondarily on the basis of class participation and short quizzes.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Barbara F Reskin
Date: 03/08/2003