Critical Exploration of Social Reality
This sequence features an introduction to critical reasoning through the exploration of methods and topics from the social sciences.
The courses in this sequence are taught by faculty from the departments of Economics, History, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology.
- HSSS 101: Person and Community in the Social Sciences
- HSSS 102: Economic Reasoning and Social Science
- HSSS 203: Social Data Analysis
- HSSS 204: Families, Markets, Cities: Social and Scientific Perspectives
Person and Community in the Social Sciences
This introductory course addresses the crisis of the contemporary political morality ushered in by the social sciences as they developed during the 19th century from assumptions of rationalism and modern scientific naturalism. The course seeks to illuminate the crisis in three ways: it excavates the methodological and philosophical assumptions; it contrasts modern rational naturalism with Aristotelian and theistic assumptions; it contrasts modern rational naturalism with Aristotelian and theistic alternatives; and it explores the ways in which an understanding of the nature of man shapes the theory and practice of the various social sciences.
Economic Reasoning and Social Science
The course utilizes a variety of contemporary and classic readings from social psychology, economics, and political science to explore the question of human community from diverse perspectives in the social sciences. Nature and the purpose of community, the types and historical forms of community, and the normative implications of community are discussed. Special attention is given to the situation of community in the contemporary world. Authors include: Max Weber, Ferdinand Tonnies, Nicholas Lasch, Anthony Downs, Robert Nisbet, Robert Putnam, Francis Fukuyama, and others.
Social Data Analysis
This course is an introduction to the analysis of data from the social sciences. A particular focus of the course examines the rules that govern uncertainty, the study of things whose truth or falsity is not known. In addition to being introduced to basic statistical concepts and computer applications, the student will study how uncertainty is measured and how it is used for everyday decision-making. Throughout the course, the emphasis is on critical interpretation of social science data and on effective writing on topics that deal with uncertain situations and quantitative information.
Families, Markets, Cities: Social and Scientific Perspectives
Using perspectives from a variety of social sciences, this course examines two of the major institutions of modern society: the market and the family. Issues explored include the changing size, shape, and role of the family; the cultural prerequisites and cultural effects of the market; the uses and limits of economic forms of explanation; and the nature of debates in the social sciences.