New course: SOC 253

A new course exploring the impact race and ethnicity have on today’s society is coming Fall 2018.

The Race and Ethnicity course (SOC 253) will be taught by associate professor of Sociology Derek Roberts.

Roberts has tackled this class before at four-year universities and hopes that by getting the word out early, it will bring interested students to sign up for the course. 

He said the course will expose students to historical and contemporary factors contributing to the social construction of race and ethnicity. 

The course description notes that besides identity and group formation, the course explores how race and ethnicity have consistently played a role in social and institutional discrimination – including areas such as economics, education, health, incarceration, and politics.

The class will be a Gen Ed and Global Studies satisfier. 

Roberts said Race and Ethnicity will be a 200-level course.
“It’s an upper-level class, so we’ll have some original resources,” Roberts said. “It’s not just a textbook introductory-type class.”

The class will include some original research, he said.

“The main focus will be on American issues,” Roberts said, “but we do have quite a bit of content that will compare what’s going on in America with what’s going on in places like Europe and in Africa, as well, so we can get a better appreciation of what the racial and ethnic issues in the United States are.”

Roberts plans to pair lectures with group discussion. Group discussion helps to get other people’s points of view across, he said.

Roberts requires participation in all of his classes. In this one especially, he stresses that it is important to be able to contribute to the development of what he calls the sociological imagination.

Through discussion, Roberts hopes to pivot the conversation away from politics.

“The events of the last five years have really sort of changed the conversation a little bit,” he said. “At least it’s gotten a couple people to think, ‘well, maybe there’s still something to it. Maybe it’s something that we need to discuss.’

“And so that’s one of the things we will look at in this course. How we’ve transitioned from race being a big deal in the past to where we’ve sort of tried to run away from race and be colorblind and not want to acknowledge that race might be a factor in our daily lives.”

Roberts hopes that after the class, students will be able to think critically about racial and ethnic relations in society.

“I want us to have young people who are educated about these things,” he says. “Who can talk about them honestly and openly.”

The course, SOC 253, will be available starting Fall 2018. It is a three-credit course that requires prerequisites of RDG 090, ENGL 090 or qualifying scores on an accepted placement test.