Inquiry Seminar in the Social Sciences

Courses that introduce students to the subjects and methods of inquiry of the social sciences by engaging in focused study of one or more particularly important questions arising from a social science discipline. These courses introduce students to key concepts, knowledge, and principles of the relevant discipline as they relate to the questions being studied in the individual section. They are not intended to be survey courses or broad introductions to the discipline, but should be content-rich, with the content revolving around and connected to the central questions being studied.

These courses engage students in studying questions about human behavior and social phenomena arising from a specific discipline in the social sciences. These courses all incorporate the direct study of human behavior or institutions through disciplinary-appropriate means (observation, experimentation, analysis of data, etc.); introduce students to developing hypotheses, research questions, and/or synthesizing qualitative data; and explore how knowledge of key social scientific principles provides explanatory insight into patterns of individual human and social behavior.

In addition, these courses teach the following skills: academic writing, argument construction and critical thinking, critical reading, quantitative reasoning, and oral presentations.

Sample Sections

Can We Fix Health Care? Health Economics and Policy

Faculty: Katie Fitzpatrick

The government's role in health care is extremely controversial.  This course will examine the health care sector from a microeconomic perspective to understand the demand for health care and the provision of health services.  It will explore the role of industrial structure, insurance, market failures, and government interventions in explaining health-related outcomes.  Students will gain an appreciation for societal tradeoffs between economic efficiency and equity when crafting health policy.

Reconciliation After Conflict

Faculty: Onur Bakiner

This course explores the possibility of civic repair and reconciliation in societies transitioning from a period of political violence and massive human rights violations. Throughout the course we will question what it means to come to terms with the past for victims and victimizers of repression, as well as for greater society. The challenge is to rethink our everyday notions of reconciliation, forgiveness, victim, perpetrator, memory, and truth in a critical light.

Paradise Lost: A Framework for Social Problems

Faculty: Julie Harms Cannon

Both contemporary and classical sociologists have been fascinated by the study of social problems in society. In this course we will examine how Charlotte Perkins Gilman used utopian fiction to explain social problems and provide solutions. This more accessible sociology was used to reach the lay person and help them to consider the socially constructed nature of problems. We will use some of her utopian works to address both past and present social problems including poverty, racism, classism, democracy, privilege, and so on.