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“Public Sociology endeavors to bring sociology into dialogue with audiences beyond the academy, an open dialogue in which both sides deepen their understanding of public issues.”

                                                                                                                - Michael Burawoy

This course is designed as a dialogue and conversation.  Our attempt will be to ask what “place at the table” sociology and anthropology students can and should have when it comes to current affairs and pressing social problems.


We have long been shackled by the idea that our work should be formal, academic and scientific and “objective”.  This implies that anything other than this traditional model lacks rigor and seriousness.  The two important questions we should ask ourselves about our discipline are:

  1. Who is our audience?
  2. What do we hope to achieve? 

The first question is about our intended audience.  How can our work speak to wider communities instead of being read and re-read by other academics?  The second asks what goal we have for our work.  Do we want to contribute to growth of knowledge or foster social change?  Are these two things mutually exclusive?

The call to public scholarship isn’t new...but if we are to show people the relevance and importance of our craft, we must advocate for our voices and contributions to be heard.

What are the prerequisites?

The prerequisites for SOAN 4490 are successful completion of SOAN 3313, SOAN 3314, and SOAN 4416 (SOAN 4416 may be taken concurrently)

When is this course offered?

This course will be offered on Wednesday evenings from 4:30-7:00 PM during the Fall 2014 term.

How will I be evaluated in this course?

Students will be responsible for active contribution to classroom discussion.  This course is intended to be a seminar, not a traditional lecture/test format.

The general structure will be:

  1.  Reading questions
  2. Responsibility for leading a seminar discussion
  3.  Analysis of an example of public scholarship       



Please contact the course instructor, Dr. Alan Brown.