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Global Social Problems

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2017
Prothro-Yeager Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times



Days: T and R; Time:8:00am to 9:20am


Dr. Isaac Christiansen (view Profile)
Course Objectives


Course Overview and Objectives:

This course on Social Problems is designed to give the student a good introduction and overview of a range of social problems both in the U.S. and globally. We will examine inequality (national and international), racial discrimination, crime and prisons, war and empire, and the environmental crisis from a sociological perspective. We will collectively investigate the ideological, socio-economic and structural origins of these problems and their theoretical explanations. We will also examine the U.S. criminal justice system and the effects of "getting tough on crime". Towards the latter half of the course we will examine U.S. foreign policy, empire and war. We will close the course with an examination underdevelopment and a look at an environmental crisis already upon us. This course seeks to impart on the students a critical understanding of these issues and how they impact our global society. Underlying our examination of each problem lies a commitment to the ideals of social justice.

Instructional Objectives

1. Think critically about social problems, their origins and solutions and the challenges in implementing solutions.

2. Understand and be able to explain poverty, crime, inequalities, war, and under or mal-development from a sociological perspective. Utilize sociological theories to further develop that understanding.

3. Understand how inequality is structural and leads to unequal life chances.

4. Develop a more accurate picture of the social world, and contemplate ways in which critical social problems could be better addressed.

Course Expectations

Basic skills necessary for the assimilation of sociological knowledge and success in this course:

1. Self-discipline: You will need to be sufficiently dedicated and take the time necessary to not only read through all of the assigned material, but to truly learn and absorb it. You will need to ask yourself questions as you read to ensure that you can identify and recall the main points. After reading you should be able to answer questions related to the material and see its personal and/or social/economic/political implications.

You are responsible for knowing the material in the text and other readings according to the syllabus schedule as well as the material covered in class lecture. Chapters should be read by the time the material is covered in class. In this way you will gain more from the lecture, be prepared for quizzes, and reduce the need to cram for exams. To test your own knowledge, you should be able to answer the questions at the end of each chapter correctly.

2. Attend every class. Come prepared and pay attention in class, take appropriate notes according to your best learning style and method.

3. A willingness to challenge dominant beliefs and perceptions. The sociologist must not fear information, data, and iconoclastic perspectives,

which may clash with their preconceptions. The sociologist must not shy away from information, data or truths that may be distasteful to powers that be- or to their own preconceptions.

Grading Standards

Grading Criteria:

Assignment weights

10 Reading Discussion Questions and Participation 5 * 10 = 50

Reflection Papers 3 * 50 =150

3 Article Reviews 3 * 50 = 150

1st Exam 100 points

2nd Exam 100 points

Final- 150 pts

TOTAL = 700

Grading Scale

90% to 100% A

80% to 89% B

70%-79% C

60%-69% D

59% or below F

Submission Format Policy

Submission rules depend on the assignment: Some assignments are to be handed in via D2L or in class; others (discussion questions) are only submitted in class. 

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Late Paper Policy

Late Assignments: Late assignments will have 5 points deducted per day late.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Class Participation and attendance:

The attendance and participation of students is vital for a positive and rewarding learning experience for everyone. Your presence is expected and students will be evaluated on their sharing of thoughts and class contribution. You will miss vital information if you are not present and alert in class. In the end it is your grade and your responsibility to know the information in the exams and to incorporate the information from class in your assignments.

You are allowed up to three absences after which your grade will suffer a 20 point deduction for each day absent. Only under extreme circumstances or university activities that conflict with class will this penalty be waved.

Other Policies

Missed exam policy: No missed exams will allowed to be retaken without instructor approval based on evidence (doctor’s note, university letter) that indicates the person missed the test due to a legitimate emergency, illness and/or school function. Without this evidence ten points will be deducted from the exam. All missed exams must be made up within one week. The exam may also be different than the exam given to the rest of the class, and no bonus question will appear on the make-up exam. No exam will be allowed to be made up after December 12th.

Cell phones and electronic devices: Not permitted during class time. Turn off or silence your cellular telephones before coming to class. Sending text messages is distracting and is strictly prohibited. Laptop use is generally prohibited during class time. No use of IPods or other listening devices will be tolerated. Please focus on the task at hand.

Syllabus modifications: The professor reserves the right to make adjustments or improvements to the syllabus during the semester. You will be notified of all changes.

Cheating, Plagiarism, and Academic Dishonesty:

At no time will any form of cheating or plagiarism of any kind be allowed. Students are attending the university to learn and cannot do so if they do not complete their own work. Academic dishonesty is a serious ethical violation and will not be tolerated. I expect that these standards will be met, and I will hold students to them.

Plagiarism is according to the New Oxford Dictionary is "the practice of taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own". This means in academic practice copying someone else’s work and ideas, without quoting and citing as appropriate.

Potential consequences of plagiarism or academic dishonesty include failing the article review, assignment, exam and/or quiz at a minimum. Other consequences include failing the entire course and the filing of the Academic Misconduct Form that will remain on your college records.

Americans with Disabilities Act:

If a student has an established disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA) and would like to request accommodation, that student should please contact me as soon as possible. Any student requesting accommodations should first contact Disability Support Services at 940-397-4140 in room 168 Clark Student Center to document and coordinate reasonable accommodations if they have not already done so.

Campus Concealed Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at