Social Theory and Practice
NOTE: The RC Social Theory and Practice Concentration is now OPEN TO ALL LSA STUDENTS.
The RC Social Theory and Practice Concentration supports students in developing the analytical and practical skills necessary for active engagement in the world and for building careers that promote equality and responsible citizenship. Faculty whose work encompasses sociology, political science, history, anthropology, economics, education, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, geography, and psychology provide students with multi-disciplinary approaches to current issues in U.S. society and the global environment. Students learn theories, methods, and strategies that enable them to understand and critique social structures and processes and to become effective actors in struggles for justice. They take core courses together, and create individual concentration plans tailored to their specific interests. Recent STP concentrators have pursued such topics as “Health Policy in the United States,” “Tracking Globalization in Detroit,” “Juvenile Justice in the U.S. and Senegal,” “Urban Youth Empowerment,” “Sustainable Agriculture in Michigan and Cuba,” “Peace, Policy, and Public Health,” and “Community Dialogues.”
The STP Concentration Advisor, Frank Thompson email@example.com, advises students about requirements and course options, tracks their progress through the concentration, and signs release forms.
The student’s faculty mentor is an intellectual guide and companion who shares the student’s academic interests. STP students are linked with faculty mentors during the semester they submit a concentration proposal (See “c” below).
Before declaring the RC Social Theory and Practice Concentration (typically at the end of the sophomore or early junior year), students complete the following prerequisites:
a) RCSSCI 260: Understanding Power/Theorizing Knowledge and RCSSCI 290, a one credit course taken in the same semester that helps them prepare their Individual Concentration Proposal (see c below).
b) One other RCSSCI “gateway” course at the 200 or low 300 level chosen in consultation with the STP Concentration Advisor. The aim of the gateway courses is to introduce students to issues and approaches in the social sciences as well as to the ways questions are framed from different disciplinary perspectives.
c) An Individual Concentration Proposal, which outlines the student’s own plan of study and is written in consultation with a faculty mentor assigned by the 290 instructor. The proposal should specify the intellectual rationale for the concentration, lay out the courses that the student might take, and indicate the kind of senior project the student may complete in the final semester or year. Students may continue to meet informally with their mentors throughout their years in the STP program, or they may choose another faculty mentor as their interests change.
All concentrators must complete the following requirements in addition to the prerequisites:
1) Two courses devoted to social theory. One of these must be RCSSCI 301: The Origins of Social Science Thinking. This course focuses on the early development of political economy, sociology, and psychology in both Europe and the U.S. The second theory course will be chosen in consultation with the STP Concentration advisor. This course might be RCSSCI 302: Contemporary Social Theory, or a theory course more suitable to the student’s particular plan of study.
2) At least one research methods course in social science inquiry that includes quantitative component, usually SOC 310, STATS 250, or ECON 404.
3) A minimum of four upper-level courses (at least one of these outside the RC) that are integral to the plan the student outlined in the Individual Concentration Proposal.
4) RCSSCI 460: Senior Project Seminar. Typically taken by all STP concentrators during the Fall of the senior year.
5) Completion of a Senior Project. This requirement, considered the culmination of the concentration, is usually completed through RCSSI 460 under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Students work closely with their respective faculty mentors, meeting regularly to discuss the projects and their writing. A Senior Project can take many forms:
a) One type of senior project stems from an internship or field study in the U.S. or abroad which synthesizes on-going involvement in a “real world” setting with critical and conceptual analysis and personal reflection. Typically, the project is documented in a written report of about 15-25 pages.
b) Another type of senior project is a more traditional semester-long thesis that explores themes from the student’s individual plan of study in the STP Concentration. The thesis is typically 30-50 pages in length, and either is organized around a series of analytical questions or makes an argument for a particular point of view or practical application.
c) Ambitious students may consider completing an Honors Thesis. This year-long empirical research and writing project of about 60 pages allows a student to pursue a particular set of original research questions developed by the student in consultation with his or her faculty mentor or other instructor (generally within the RC) who agrees to be the “first reader” of the finished work. During the fall semester when the student is enrolled in RCSSCI 460, the student begins the research process, and the student and mentor meet fairly regularly to discuss appropriate resources and preliminary findings. They continue these meetings during the final writing of the thesis, which takes place in the second semester. The student takes the initiative to find a “second reader” (often outside the RC), who agrees to read and evaluate the final draft of the student’s work. First and second readers agree on a level of Honors (Honors; High Honors; or Highest Honors) that the work merits on completion of the project.
Social Theory and Practice Faculty and Their Interests
Charlie Bright firstname.lastname@example.org history; global, geopolitics and war; punishment and prisons; U.S. politics; Detroit.
David Burkam email@example.com schooling; gender, race, and social inequities in educational access; research methods; statistics.
Sueann Caulfield firstname.lastname@example.org Latin American history, emphasis on Brazil; gender, sexuality, and human rights.
Angela Dillard email@example.com American and African-American intellectual history; political ideology; conservative thought; critical race theory; religious studies; U.S. social movements.
Jeff Evans firstname.lastname@example.org psychology of creativity; clinical psychology; neuropsychology, concept of the person.
Helen Fox email@example.com grassroots development; nonviolent social movements; race and racism; human rights; writing – international and U.S. students.
Hank Greenspan firstname.lastname@example.org holocaust and genocide; clinical psychology; oral history; health policy.
Michelle McClellan email@example.com addiction; public history; historical preservation and sustainability; Michigan history; Detroit.
Virginia Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org environmental justice; social justice; sustainability.
Jennifer Myers email@example.com developmental psychology; early adult development, impact of illness on development.
Ian Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org comparative and international political economy; unions and labor movements; organizing for social justice; ethical consumption; worker rights and trade policy; neoliberal and alternative models of North American integration; Mexican labor migration; the situation of Mexican workers in the U.S. economy; political struggles in Mexico; the corporatization of higher education; the pedagogy of experiential and community service learning.
Frank Thompson email@example.com political economy: theoretical, empirical, and normative.
Stephen Ward firstname.lastname@example.org African-American history; the Black Power Movement; community-based political activism; urban studies; Detroit.