SO304 Social Problems

for U1E 2008

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Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


SO 304 Social Problems


U1E 2008 PE


Costello, Severio A.


Senior Adjunct Faculty


Ph.D. Psychology
M.S. Psychology
M.A.Human Resource Management

Office Location

Camp Pendleton, Bldg. 1341, Conference Rm

Office Hours

5:30 - 9:50 on the nights I teach

Daytime Phone



Web Page

Class Days


Class Time

4:45 - 10:10 PM



Credit Hours


 Global Problems, The Search for Equity, Peace, and Sustainability, Scott Sernau, published: Allyn and Bacon

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore  or Parkville Bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information

Course Description:
Review of major controversial issues facing modern societies, such as poverty, crime, deviance, sexuality, addiction, mental illness, prejudice, changing values, demographic pressure, surveillance, technology, terrorism and war, the provision of social service, and the balance between individual freedom and social responsibility. Special attention is given to global and cross-cultural context, and the causes, consequences and potential public policy solutions for each issue. 3:0:3 Prerequisite: SO141

Class Assessment:

The primary assessment assignment for this class will be a major essay that integrates, analyzes, applies, and critiques several sociological concepts and research findings from this course individually, together, and with additional sources from your own literature review and archival study.

You must incorporate the findings from at least three outside sources of original academic research in this essay. You may also include additional sources for examples or background information, but only reputable, peer-reviewed academic sources will count toward the reference requirements of your essays. This means that magazines, newspapers, professional periodicals, or internet sources are only appropriate for examples and illustrations in this project. Please see your instructor if you have any questions as to whether a specific source is acceptable for your essay. Also, focus on articles or books presenting original research or theories, not on those reviewing others' works or editorializing about opposing approaches. Reference works, textbooks, and literature reviews are all excellent places to begin your search, but you must find and read the original in order to develop your own reaction. Ask your instructor for source approval if in doubt.  A wealth of such archived data is publicly accessible through the Internet, and their use can help you better understand your issue and develop a stronger analysis and critique. Again, if in doubt, just ask your instructor for approved sources.

Please properly cite those external sources that contributed to your work to avoid plagiarism. This will not be tolerated and may result in penalties. If you have any questions as to when and how to use citations and references in you essays, please contact your instructor. Your final essay will also be formatted according to the relevant portions of the American Psychological Association Style Guide. The main text of your essay will consist of no less than 1,500 words (or about 5 pages, excluding table of context, references, and graphs/charts) and not more than 3,000 words, or about 10 pages). Be able to address the issues and topics from not just a “world view,” but also from your own personal or subjective view.  Begin work on your essay early and leave plenty of time for revision to assure the best possible grade.

Select one social concern that you identify as a problem using empirical data and address the impact this problem has had on society as a whole. You are encouraged to show how this problem has been particularly problematic for specific groups within society based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, socioeconomic status, or some other characteristic or combination (but you must receive your instructor's permission before beginning your project).

        Briefly summarize the history of the problem and the attempts to combat/solve the issue. Analyze the effectiveness of the attempts, opposition to the strategies, and the most recent proposals. Use the conceptual and theoretical tools of the course and your outside sources to clarify and enrich your analysis. Justify and support your conclusions. Explain how specific social scientific theories and research helps you to draw these conclusions. Remember to defend and support/justify your conclusions!  

In addition to the major essay, the assessment will also include minor homework assignments, a midterm exam, a final exam, and classroom debates/presentations of current/relevant news stories.


Topic essay                            300 points

Mid-term exam                      200 points

Final exam                             300 points

Class presentation/discuss.    100 points

Attendance & participation    100 points

Total points possible             1000 points

90% of 1,000 points = A (900-1000 points)

80% of 1,000 points = B (800-899 points)

70% of 1,000 points = C (700-799 points)

60% of 1,000 points = D (600-699 points)

59% or less of the 1,000 points possible = "F"

This grading scale will also used on all assignments.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Any material turned in late will receive an automatic 15 point per day reduction before it is graded unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor. The 15 point per day point reduction will occur prior to the assignment being graded.  Students should not e-mail assignments to the instructor with the understanding that the assignment will not receive the 15 point per day reduction unless the instructor has given permission for the assignment to be e-mailed.  Otherwise, the student may only assume that the assignment was not turned-in when it was due and will be assessed the 15 point per day reduction, even if it was e-mailed to the instructor.  Any student who gives their assignment to another student to turn in for them is still responsible for their assignment reaching the instructor when it is due.  If the assignment does not reach the instructor when it is due, it will be assessed a 15 point per day reduction. 

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
All material must be type written.  The instructor will not accept diskettes in lieu of the hard copy.  It is acceptable to disagree with ideas, opinions, comments, and points of view expressed by others. However, it is never acceptable to attack anyone verbally for their opinion, comment, ideas, beliefs, etc.  Only under extremely limited circumstances will electronic recording device, audio or video, be permitted to be on in the classroom during class session or during break without the instructors permission.  This includes telephones with audio and/or visual recording capabilities.  All pagers and cell phones must be turned off.  There can be no texting during class time.  Lectures can not be recorded.  No audio or video recording equipment may be on during class, to include all recording devices associated with cell phones

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:
Week #1 - Wed June 4th - Introductions, review of the syllabus, video, chapters 1 and 2; handout and homework assignment.  Lecture will include but is not limited to issues considered to be social problems; traditional perspectives on society and social problems; a critical power-conflict perspective; Americans' view of their lives; class, rich and poor domestically and globally; Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim; free trade.

Week #2 - Wed June 11h - Review of news stories; review of handouts; video; chapters 3, 4, and 5.  Lecture will include but not limited to gender and family issues; problems facing women; patterns of oppression for women; sexual assault, inside and outside the home; hazards of being a male in our society; sexual harassment; employment and feminist views of society.  Problems in education; discrimination relating to education; issues surrounding private schools, public schools, high schools, colleges and universities, relevant court cases (also from a historical perspective).  Problems with the criminal justice system; methods used to measure crime; prosecuting criminals; organized crime, business and government; prosecutorial misconduct and wrong convictions, to include capital convictions.  Homework assignment.

Week #3 - Wed June 18th - Review of news stories; review of handouts; video; chapters 5 and 6. Lecture will include but not limited to wars to include the cost and consequences of war; the cold war; the Iraq war; politics and war; the military industrial complex. Homework assignments.

Week #4 - Wed June 25th - Review of news stories; review of handouts, video, chapters 6 and 7.  Lectures will include but are not limited to democracy and human rights; nationalism and independence; immigration and the racial landscape; problems of an aging society.  Midterm exam

Week #5 - Wed July 2nd - Review of midterm exam, review of news stories, review of handouts, video, chapters 8 and 9.  Lecture will include but will not be limited to historical background of racism; racial domination; the particular case of African Americans; patterns of discrimination; civil rights era; difference between ethnicity and racism; faith and religion, religious diversity, religion and society; green cities; livable cities; urban life; world cities.

Week #6 -Wed Jul 9th - Review of news stories, review of handouts, videos, chapters 9, 10.  Lecture will include but will not be limited to health care reform issues abroad; health care in the U.S.; private control and private profit in health care; racial and gender discrimination; drugs and profit; health care services; profits from poor countries; government intervention in health care.

Week #7 - Wed Jul 16th - Review of news stories, review of handouts, videos, chapters 11 and 12.  Lecture will include but will not be limited to technology and energy, and the ecology; sources of energy; oil and international trade; deforestation and pollution; food sources; industrial agriculture.  Term papers due.

Week #8 - Wed Jul 23th - Final exam. Group and/or individual essays presented.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85-86

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  3. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  4. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  5. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  6. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  7. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-88

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:5/12/2008 3:34:35 PM