Social Justice Through Civic Engagement

Program Overview

Morally and civically responsible individuals recognizes themselves as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly their own.  Such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.  The Social Justice through Civic Engagement minor focuses on those populations that are "non-hegemonic" in society, adding to a students' diversity of ideas regarding these groups.  

Curriculum Overview

The minor is available to students from all colleges/schools, allowing them to combine rigorous coursework with experiential learning.  The coursework provides students with an academically meaningful foundation from which they can put their experiences in a larger social context.  The broad range of courses available address social topics such as economics, politics, ethnicity, culture, or gender, fostering discussions that allow a student to reflect on their own experiences and consider new solutions to social problems.

Degree Offered

  • Minor in Social Justice through Civic Engagement


Victor Thompson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology and Criminology
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Fine Arts, 281 

Program Website: Social Justice through Civic Engagement

Associated Department: Sociology and Criminology

Related Programs

Social Justice and Civic Engagement Minor Requirements

(18 credits)

Core Courses
SOC 230Foundations of Civic Engagement3
SOC 245Social Problems3
Select two non-hegemonic courses or one non-hegemonic and one civic engagement course from the options below.6
Non-hegemonic studies:
Multicultural America
Martin Luther King Jr's America
Hip Hop and American Culture
Black American Lit
Multi-Ethnic Literature in America
Women In Literature
Native American History
African American History
The Immigrant in American Life
Women in American History
Gender and Sexuality in American History
Philosophy of the Sexes
Race and Ethnicity in American Politics
Environmental Politics
Human Rights in Global Context
Psychology of Women
Racial and Ethnic Relations
Women in Society
Gender and Criminal Justice
Civic Engagement Experience:
Courses will be approved on an individual basis by the department chairperson.
Policy/Politics 3
Select one from the following list:
Economics of Health Care Sys
Introduction to Public Policy
Sex & Gender in International Politics
Environmental Politics
Power and Politics
Race and Crime
Health Care and Society
Social Policy
Capstone Experience3
Select from the following:
Independent Study: Research and Creative Expression
Internship in Sociology
Total Credits18

Courses and Descriptions

AMS 212 Multicultural America 3 Credits

Focusing primarily on the new century, this course explores the experiences of the remarkably diverse range of ethnic groups who have come to the U.S. in recent years, including Hispanics, Europeans, Asians and Africans. How these groups have impacted the communities where they have settled, how they have interacted with other ethnic groups, and how they have assimilated (or not) and prospered (or not) are among the issues examined and discussed.

AMS 227 Martin Luther King Jr's America 3 Credits

This course studies Martin Luther King Jr’s writings, speeches, and sermons, the context of the America he saw in his lifetime, and the implications of his message for today’s America and its place in the world. King envisioned a wholly democratic America free of racism, poverty, and military aggression. Students will critically assess the political, economic, and religious thought at the root of his call for change.

AMS 309 Hip Hop and American Culture 3 Credits

Explore hip-hop culture via the music, dance, art, and poetry created in some of the poorest and most segregated neighborhoods in America. Students will examine the social conditions that fostered the creation of hip-hop and delve into a range of issues confronted in hip-hop music and culture.

Prerequisites: CMP 125 or CMP 203 or BHP 150.

ECO 336 Economics of Health Care Sys 3 Credits

This course presents ways in which economic analysis can be used to explain issues in the health care industry. Microeconomic tools will be used to describe the behavior of consumers, producers, and third parties of the health care sector. The course also investigates the role of government in regulating the health care sector, and in providing services to the poor and elderly. Finally, we will use this foundation to examine some recent changes in this industry, and to analyze the most recent proposals for further changes.

Prerequisite(s): ECO 201 or HTH 205.

ENG 228 Black American Lit 3 Credits

A survey of writings by black Americans, presented historically from early slave narratives through emancipation, reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and literature from the 1930s to the present. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum.

ENG 229 Multi-Ethnic Literature in America 3 Credits

Surveys the literature of various ethnic groups including African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Jewish Americans and European Americans. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum.

ENG 230 Women In Literature 3 Credits

A range of literary presentations of the female experience and of the conditions of women’s lives is explored. These works are placed in historical and social contexts in order to see behind and beyond traditional literary conventions. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum.

HIS 200 Native American History 3 Credits

Traces the experiences of North American Indians from early colonial times to the present day, demonstrating how Indian life has varied and changed throughout our nation’s history. Topics include strategies of resistance and accommodation to colonial powers, 19th- century impacts of U.S. government removal and cultural assimilation policies, and 20th-century cultural and political developments among the nation’s surviving tribes. Rather than “vanishing,” American Indians are a vital and expanding force in modern America.

HIS 201 African American History 3 Credits

Examines the actions and thought of peoples of African ancestry in the United States. Briefly considers Africa before the Atlantic slave trade, then concentrates on major themes in African-American history--the slave trade, slavery, and the genesis of African American society, emancipation and its consequences, urbanization and industrialization, Black Nationalism, the Civil Rights Movement, and African Americans today. Emphasizes African Americans’ dynamic and creative role both in shaping their society and establishing their place in United States society. The on-going struggle for freedom and equality provides thematic continuity for analyzing nearly 400 years of African-American history.

HIS 307 The Immigrant in American Life 3 Credits

Examines the experiences of immigrants in the United States, their assimilation, the reactions to them, and their contributions.

HIS 309 Women in American History 3 Credits

Examines the roles, status, and influence of women from the colonial era to the present. Studies the origins and development of feminism, including legal, political, educational, economic, and sexual rights; and studies social feminism, including reform movements in such fields as abolition, prohibition, pacifism, child labor, and social welfare.

HIS 319 Gender and Sexuality in American History 3 Credits

What makes a man, exactly, and what makes a woman? What kinds of sex are normal, and what kinds are abnormal? Who decides, and why? The answers to these questions are not fixed. Throughout American history, popular understandings of gender and sexual norms evolved in close relationship with the political, economic, racial, and social dictates of the time. This course will trace the evolution of ideas on sec and gender from the 18th century to the present using various historical sources including fiction and film, particular attention will be given to analyzing dominant models of proper behavior and the complex relationships of power enmeshed within them.

PHL 230 Philosophy of the Sexes 3 Credits

Studies philosophical views of the differences between the sexes, sexual equality, love, marriage, and the family from ancient Greece to the 20th century. Texts from the contemporary women’s and men’s movements will also be examined. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum.

POL 205 Introduction to Public Policy 3 Credits

The course provides students with an introduction to the study of public policy by linking the theoretical with the practical. The course focuses on three areas of analysis: 1) descriptive 2) evaluative and 3) prescriptive. Students will develop skills required to define and critically examine policy problems, articulate relevant decision-making criteria and assess alternative policy options. Last the course provides examples of public policy problems through the substantive policy areas of health, environment and education.

POL 235 Race and Ethnicity in American Politics 3 Credits

Examines the changing political, economic, and social situation of racial and ethnic groups in American politics since the 1950s. Topics include the relationship between race/ethnicity and voting behavior, political parties, and election results. Includes an analysis of specific areas of contemporary racial and ethnic conflict, such as voting rights, immigration, and affirmative action.

POL 280 Sex & Gender in International Politics 3 Credits

What’s a student of political science, International Relations (IR), or another social science field to do about feminism? This is a question that has troubled IR for decades. While feminist debates engaged people in spaces outside the disciplines of political science and particularly IR, IR scholars did their best not to see the relevance of feminism for their own debates. That did not stop some feminists from rethinking key IR concepts like power, race and the state, but such contributions were largely ignored by IR scholars until very recently. It was only in the last decades, when feminist questions pushed their way onto the IR agenda through books, journals, and conferences, that feminism suddenly seemed attractive to IR scholars. Designed as an interdisciplinary course with a strong reference to Global and International Politics, this course will provide a basic introduction to some of the major global questions as seen through a feminist lens.

POL 327 Contemporary Issues in American Public Policy 3 Credits

An in-depth examination of current issues in American politics. Drunk driving, political corruption, drug policy, education, and poverty are among the issues to be considered. Emphasis on analyzing policy problems and on developing and evaluating proposed solutions.

POL 328 Environmental Politics 3 Credits

Environmental Politics examines how policymakers deal with the political challenges of unsustainable resource consumption, which is a primary determinant of environmental problems such as climate change, adverse health effects, and biodiversity loss. The course introduces students to environmental politics and policies at the local, state, national, and international levels. The course is designed to provide students with a framework for understanding how varied interests compete within political institutions in order to transform contending ideas into public policy. With that in mind, students will not only become more informed consumers of political information, but will also become more effective at analyzing and advocating for policies as it relates to the environment.

POL 363 Human Rights in Global Context 3 Credits

Human rights – droits de l’homme, derechos humanos, Menschenrechte, “the rights of man” – are, literally, the rights that one has because one is human. What does it mean to have a right? How are being human and having rights related? This course provides an introduction to theory and global practice of human rights. Human rights claims play an increasingly central role in political and social struggles across the world. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 signaled a proliferation of international human rights law and transnational non-governmental activism. While the promotion of human rights has become global, adherence to those standards remains highly uneven and gross violations and atrocities continue to occur. Given the breath and complexity of the human rights movement, including its engagement with law, politics and morals, in radically different cultures, this course is by its very nature multidisciplinary. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 363. Students may not get credit for both HLS 363 and POL 363.

PSY 118 Psychology of Women 3 Credits

Examines the psychological development of women in our culture from birth to maturity, with an emphasis on the interaction of biological and social influences on personality, social behavior, and achievement of women. Investigates psychological sex differences in terms of current measurement approaches. Readings and text are drawn from psychological theory and research.

SOC 207 Racial and Ethnic Relations 3 Credits

Examines the social origins of prejudice and discrimination, and analyzes intergroup trends in conflict, competition, and cooperation. Considers issues of immigration, economic and political power, and ethnic, racial, and religious pluralism.

SOC 230 Foundations of Civic Engagement 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to civic engagement: its meanings, opportunities and limitations. Students will learn about the different opportunities for civic engagement in the community as well as the theories and skills associated with it. Students will learn the role of formal and informal institutions in community engagement and will identify a specific organization for in depth investigation.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 245 Social Problems 3 Credits

American social, economic, and political institutions and their interrelationships are analyzed, with an emphasis on the causes, directions, and consequences of social change in American society.

SOC 312 Women in Society 3 Credits

Examines changes in women’s roles and in male-female relationships. Focuses on impact of law, economy and social movements in shaping women’s positions as wives and as workers. Explores theories and evidence concerning the nature and extent of sex differences. Attention to women’s socialization through language, schools and media.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 313 Gender and Criminal Justice 3 Credits

This course will examine women’s experiences with the criminal justice system as offenders, victims, prisoners, and practitioners. It will consider how gender has shaped theories of crime and criminological research. It will explore how cultural constructions of gender have influenced substantive and procedural criminal law, the ways criminal justice agencies respond to crime, and how these have changed historically. Attention will be given to the development of new approaches, reforms, and challenges.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 340 Power and Politics 3 Credits

Examines the nature and distribution of power in contemporary societies; analyzes the relationships between power and politics.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 345 Race and Crime 3 Credits

Examines the impact of crime policy on minority communities in the United States, with particular attention to the impact of “The War on Drugs”, three-strike laws, and mandatory sentencing on minorities and minority communities. Drawing on sociological research, the course explores myths and realities concerning the relationship between race and crime. The relationship between racial attitudes, historical race relations, and mass incarceration are discussed.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 346 Health Care and Society 3 Credits

Application and contributions of sociology to medicine; the strategy and methods of sociomedical research; sociology of illness, addictive and mental disorder; medical institutions; health services and medical care; and current status of medical sociology.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 350 Social Policy 3 Credits

Investigates the relationship between economic development and social policy in comparative and historical context. The main features of preindustrial, early industrial, and advanced industrial social welfare systems are described. Social, economic and political factors that shape social policy are investigated.

Prerequisites: SOC 101 or SOW 250.

SOC 490 Independent Study: Research and Creative Expression 1-4 Credits

Juniors or seniors who have completed at least 12 credit hours in sociology may propose an independent research project with the aid and advice of any full-time faculty member of the department. Proposals must be reviewed and approved by the sponsoring faculty member and submitted to the department’s Independent Study Committee at least four weeks prior to the last day of classes for the semester preceding Independent Study.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 491 Internship in Sociology 1-4 Credits

A supervised work experience in an approved organization to gain knowledge of applications of sociology in work settings and to analyze work settings using sociological knowledge and research methods. Placements are made in business, government, and community offices that utilize sociological knowledge or research skills.

Prerequisite(s): 2.75 GPA.