Tony was in his element this semester teaching Social Institutions and Justice, an upper-lever Sociology class, to 40 Eastern students. It was a fascinating course and I was fortunate to be able to attend three of Tony’s lectures with some of our friends and supporters. If you’re curious about what the course covered, you can review the syllabus below.
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Spring 2015 Sociology 373
Social Institutions and Justice
Dr. Anthony Campolo, Professor of Sociology
Office: 3rd floor, Fowler Hall
Office Hours by Appointment (call Gavin Hewitt at 610-341-5962)
Class Time: Tuesday, 6:30-9:30 PM
Location: Harold Howard Learning Center, Room 105
- Course Description
In this course we will examine what is involved in exercising justice within various institutions that are part of the American societal system. In order to do this, we will survey how concepts of justice have emerged in the modern western world, giving special attention to perspectives of David Hume, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Emil Durkheim, Karl Marx, Karl Mannheim, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Frederick Nietzsche, Lester Ward, Cornell West, Ralf Dahrendorf, Adam Smith, William Graham Sumner, and Richard Rawls.Special attention will be given to the question of how a biblically-based concept of justice stands over against “the worldly philosophers.” We will review insights from 20th century sociologists such as Alfred Schultz, Thomas Luckland, Peter Berger, and Karl Mannheim, and explore how a counter-cultural understanding of justice, established through Jesus, can be maintained in a secular society.We will try to ascertain if it is possible to establish what is increasingly referred to as “The Common Good” (that is, a concept of justice that can be shared by various groups within a pluralistic society) can provide a basis for Christians to participate in facilitating social justice. Special consideration will be given to how the ideas of Abraham Maslow can contribute to this task.
- Course Goals and Objectives
We will endeavor to explore ways in which justice and injustice are operative in the following institutions:
- In relationship to the family
- Is there justification for gay marriage?
- What justifications can be given for both the pro-choice and the pro-life positions?
- In relationship to economic institutions
- What is just and unjust about capitalism?
- What caused the economic downturn in 2008? What factors of justice and injustice can be seen in the way in which this economic crisis was handled by the government?
- What critiques can be made of Communist manifesto?
- What can be done to save the American middle class?
- Is the American welfare system just when considering both the liberal and conservative points of view?
- What are the political ramifications of dealing with the question of environmentalism in America?
- In relationship to the political system
- Was the decision by the Supreme Court regarding “Citizens United” just?
- What ideological critiques were used to legitimate Liberation Theology and what are its shortcomings?
- What should be done about American immigration policies?
- What sociological and psychological factors make for totalitarianism and terrorism, according to Erich Fromm and Eric Hoffer?
- Is the Bill of Rights dysfunctional, given the conditions we face in today’s world? Special attention should be given to the matter of limits on freedom of expression. Are the policies established through the “Freedoms Act” something to be feared?
- In relationship to the educational system
- How do we correct the American educational system?
- Are there ways of making higher education more affordable and accessible?
- Is the whole question of higher education a rip-off in that what is paid and what is received do not balance in an equitable fashion?
- Are teachers’ unions a curse or a blessing?
- In relationship to the religious establishments
- Compare the justice values in the Sermon on the Mount with the justice values maintained in American society, giving special attention to capital punishment and war.
- What should Christians expect regarding church/state relationships, given that we are living in a pluralistic society?
- How does religion contribute to establishing religious justice, and how does it serve, at times, as a barrier to social justice?
- In relationship to other institutions
- What can be said about justice within the medical establishment?
- How has technology impacted justice issues?
- Is the “stop and frisk” system in New York City justified (i.e. the zero tolerance system and the broken window theory)? Are there fears that this policy will necessarily lead to racial profiling?
- As we progress in our discussions in class, it will be expected that reading assignments will be read following class discussions. The readings will come from the following books:
- Worldly Philosophers (Newly Revised). Heilbroner. Simon & Schuster, 7th Edition, ISBN: 068486214X
- Third World America. Huffington. Broadway Books, ISBN: 0307719960
- Coming Apart. Murray. Crown Publishing Group, ISBN: 030745343X
- (Un)Common Good. Wallis. Brazos Press ISBN: 1587433621
- Red Letter Christians. Campolo. Gospel Light, ISBN: 9780830768653
- At the start of each class, there will be a quiz on the assigned readings for that day. Only one question will be asked, and should be answered with just two or three sentences. At the end of the semester, the two lowest test scores will be dropped. The remaining test scores will be averaged and will count for 30% of the student’s final grade.
- There will be a midterm and a final exam. The midterm will count for 30% of the final grade, and the final will be counted for 40% of the final grade.
- Alertness in class will also be a contributing factor to the final grade. Attendance is required in this course. One absence during the semester will be allowed. Each additional absences will lead to a 5-point deduction from the final grade.
- The grading scale is as follows:
- Reading assignments
95% and over = A 90 – 94% = A-
87 – 89% = B+ 84 – 86% = B
80 – 83% = B- 77 – 79% = C+
74 – 76% = C 70 – 73% = C-
67 – 69% = D+ 64 – 66% = D
60 – 63% = D- 59% and less = F
- Final Comments
We have so much to cover in this course, and so much of what we will be covering will be controversial. I will do my best to make sure that basic sociological concepts are covered, and I will hopefully get good comments and arguments from the students during our class sessions. I am very pleased to be back in the classroom, and am exceptionally pleased with teaching this particular course.
Strange as this may sound, I will be making every effort to make this course not only educational, but a great deal of fun.