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Social Sciences

Social Sciences sequences cultivate an understanding of fundamental concepts, theories, and philosophies in the social sciences and demonstrate how the social sciences formulate basic questions and inquire about the nature of social life through acts of imagination as well as through systematic analysis. All of the sequences present some of the main ideas, theories, and inquiries of the social sciences, and show how they enhance our understanding of central issues facing the world. Classical social-scientific texts and methodologies are given close attention in discussion and lecture settings. Courses must be taken in sequence.

Students who are contemplating a major in the social sciences are strongly urged to take a Social Sciences sequence in their first year of study.

For more detailed sequence descriptions, visit Social Sciences in the Programs of Study section in The College Catalog.

NOTE: Students registered in any of the sequences below must attend the first and second class sessions or their registration will be dropped.

"Power, Identity, and Resistance" concentrates on various aspects of power, from the roles of markets and states to the social structures that determine individual, class, and gender inequalities.

"Self, Culture, and Society" studies problems basic to human existence. The sequence starts with the conceptual foundations of political economy, as well as theories of capitalism and modern society. Students then consider the relation of culture, society, and lived experience. Finally, students consider the social and cultural constitution of the person, with examination of race, gender, and sexuality.

"Social Science Inquiry" explores classic and contemporary points of view about ways of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about public policy issues. The course aims to provide the student with an introduction to the philosophy of social science inquiry, a sense of how that inquiry is conducted, and an understanding of how policy implications can be drawn responsibly from evidence provided by empirical social science. The course's objective is to convey both the promise and the pitfalls of social science and a sense of its uses and abuses.

"Mind" draws from psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics to examine mental processes such as perception, memory, and judgment and the relationship between language and thought. The course focuses on the issue of what is innate versus what is learned, the development of thought in children, and the logic of causal, functional, and evolutionary explanations. One theme of the course is the problem of rationality vis-à-vis the canons that govern the language and thought of the "ideal scientist" and how those canons compare to the canons that govern ordinary language and thought, the language and thought of other cultures, and the language and thought of actual scientists.

"Classics of Social and Political Thought" reads classical texts to investigate criteria for understanding and judging political, social, and economic institutions.

For students who entered the College in academic year 2013-2014.


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