Overview of Course
In the modern world, social problems have become more complex, challenging, and far-reaching than in the past. Ours is a time of uneasiness as we face such vexing crises as climate change, political and cultural polarization, and health-related pandemics, as well as growing inequality – at both the national and international levels. These issues necessitate adoption of a global approach to the origins and implications of social problems for societies, communities, and everyday life.
This course will draw from a variety of sociological perspectives to analyze both the objective conditions of social problems, and – through personal narratives – how we experience these problems. We will use our Semester at Sea journey to investigate the many ways social problems manifest in local contexts and how we, as a human community, collectively struggle to find solutions. Social problems do not simply arise from some mystical state-of-nature, rather they are socially constructed products of human activity. Consequently, the recognition and desire to seek solutions is highly contested, with the debate over social problems interwoven into the very fabric of modern life. The potential of this course is that we embrace our responsibility as world citizens by embracing the challenges of today’s social problems as our life’s work.