Social Problems

Course Number: SOC 206
Transcript Title: Social Problems
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: June 7, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Applies the sociological perspective to the study of social problems, including their identification, analyses of causes and consequences, and considerations of possible solutions. Explores topics such as inequality, poverty, crime and delinquency, substance abuse, discrimination, domestic violence, the environment, global stratification, and international conflict. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply sociological perspectives and use their sociological imagination in analyzing the causes and consequences of social problems and evaluating social actions and policies.
  2. Identify and evaluate the impacts of social phenomena that cause social problems within societies. 
  3. Participate within societies as informed members, identifying and understanding social phenomena that impact social problems. 

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The department assumes that instructors will assess student learning through the term by using various formative assessment tools, like worksheets, quizzes, and exams. In addition, the department encourages instructors to integrate the following kinds of tasks into the course to assess student achievement of course outcomes in a more comprehensive and holistic manner:

  1. Short analytical or application papers on specific concepts, themes, and issues.
  2. Term or research papers, using a variety of research strategies.
  3. Oral presentations.
  4. Group research, analysis, and presentation projects.
  5. Class participation in full-class discussions and small groups or teams.
  6. Response papers or journals reflecting on life experiences, events, and social phenomena.
  7. Service-learning tasks, involving service to community, reflection, and application of sociological perspective.
  8. Student-instructor conferences.
  9. Portfolios.
  10. Video projects.
  11. Oral histories and interviews.
  12. Field reports.
  13. Policy analysis and development.

Texts and Materials

There is no standard text used by all instructors, but the department must approve all required texts.

Course Activities and Design

Recommended activities and design:


Lecture format tailored around a standard resource instrument (i.e. book) in order for standardization of grading. Discussion during lecture is encouraged, as well as videos in order to enhance visualization of course material.


Assignments should be tailored around standardization of grading according to course objectives. Recommended assignments: multiple choice exams, true/false exams, short essay questions, take home long essay questions, mid/end term examinations, group projects, political letters, and/or insight based journals. 

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  1. Social problem definitions and identification.
  2. The difference between social problems and personal troubles and the interaction between them.
  3. Culture, social organization, norms, deviance, and social control mechanisms considered in relation to social problems.
  4. Sociological theories and perspectives on social problems.
  5. Social change and social movements, related to social problems.
  6. Types of social problems: problems arising from value and norm conflicts, from social structure, from social change, and from social policy.
  7. Analysis of particular social problems, such as wealth and power distribution, demographic changes, poverty, abuse, addiction, harassment, discrimination, and hate crimes based on race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or social class, violence, crime and justice, environmental problems, global conflict and disasters, mental and physical health, illness and healthcare.
  8. Solution strategies, including human services, treatment and therapeutic communities, charity, social policy, legal system, voluntarism and community action, education and prevention, scientific research, and social movements.

Competencies and Skills

  1. Apply sociological approach and perspectives to a variety of social patterns and processes, specifically related to social problems.
  2. Hone critical thinking skills regarding the analysis of social problems.
  3. Observe and identify social problems, definitions of social problems, and responses to social problems.
  4. Integrate course work with current events and trends through examination of popular and news media.
  5. Apply social change theories to historical/contemporary social problems and policies.
  6. Write and communicate orally in a clear, organized, and effective manner.
  7. Use varied and effective research resources, techniques, and strategies.
  8. Develop and refine group process skills, which may include listening, brainstorming, communicating, negotiating, or cooperating on shared tasks.
  9. Develop ability to listen to and empathize with diverse perspectives and experiences.
  10. Develop and practice active citizenship skills in accordance with principles of democratic and inclusive process, social justice, and ecological sustainability.
  11. Apply a sociological perspective to the development of policies and actions to alleviate and solve social problems.
  12. Identify and locate agencies and resources that respond to social problems.