Education and Society Sociology 129 Spring 2010 Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00 pm Tsai Auditorium (CGIS South, Room 010) http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/6298 Instructor: Professor Mary C. Brinton Teaching Fellow: Nicole Deterding [email protected][email protected]William James Hall 580 William James Hall 543 Office hours: Thursday 1-3 PM Wednesday 10-12 or by appointment Staff assistant: Laura Thomas, WJH 482 [email protected]COURSE DESCRIPTION This course examines how education shapes society and individuals. The course is organized around several central questions: 1. How does education change societies through its effect on economic growth and on individuals’ values and goals? Why is an educational system important to the functioning of society? 2. What makes the American educational system distinctive? 3. Why doesn’t social inequality necessarily decline as the educational system in a society expands? What material realities of contemporary American society pose challenges for our educational system? 4. Why do social class and race/ethnic inequalities in education persist, even though gender inequality has declined? 5. How do other postindustrial societies organize their educational systems differently than the U.S.? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different systems? We will draw on a range of contemporary studies of education, some of them theoretical and many of them empirical (both qualitative and quantitative). No previous knowledge is required. By the end of the course, students will have a good grounding in contemporary debates in the sociology of education. This course also aims to help students develop a number of capabilities, and the course requirements are designed with that in mind: 1. Through structured discussions and exercises in class and in section you will sharpen your analytical skills and your ability to take a position on a question and explain that position using logic and evidence; 2. Through the lectures and discussion in section, you will practice reflecting on your own experiences in the educational system (in this country or in other countries in which you have lived) with attention to the materials we have studied in class.
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