Sociology of the Family

Discipline: Sociology
Instructor: Mackelprang
Credits: 3

Field Work: Day 5 - Friday, 12 February | Vietnam Download Syllabus

Families are being challenged in a rapidly changing world. The concept of family is evolving rapidly in North America and throughout the world. Bonds holding families together are being challenged by local, country, and global forces. Economic conditions, societal structures, social divisions, and inequalities in the applications of social policies are creating unprecedented challenges to family structures and stability. Yet, in the midst of turbulent times, many families demonstrate remarkable trust, resilience, cohesion, and overcome threatening forces.

In this course, we will explore the forces threatening and supporting families. Together, we will investigate the meanings of family and how global forces affect local communities and families. We will evaluate our individual and societal beliefs about families and compare them to the countries and cultures we are visiting on our journey.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 5 - Friday, 12 February

This field lab will expose students to family issues in Vietnam. In the morning, students will visit the War Remnants museum and discuss the US Vietnam war, including the impacts of war on Vietnamese families during and in the aftermath of the war.
After lunch, we will visit the Dieu Giac Temple Orphanage that is run by Buddhist monks and nuns, who care for about 100 abandoned or orphaned street children. These children range from a few months to 18 years of age and represent multiple ethnic and religious groups. Students will talk with staff about the issues facing Vietnamese families and the factors impacting the need for orphanages such as Dieu Giac and integration of the orphans into schools and society. We will interact with the children and help the nuns serve the children a special dinner.

Academic Objectives:
1. Students will understand family policies and societal conditions in Vietnam, including those that impact orphans and their place in society.
2. Students will assess cultural factors including secular and religious influences on children and families.
3. Students will gain perspective on the US Vietnam war and how the conflict affected Vietnamese people and families, during and in the aftermath, of the war.
4. Students will compare and contrast issues facing Vietnamese families with issues facing North American families and families from one other country and culture to which students have been exposed on the voyage.