SOC 2010-Social Problems



Time and Location:

MTWR 12:50-3:10, PH 218


Dr. J. Brandon Wallace, Ph.D.

Instructor's Office, Phone and Email:

TODD 330, 898-5976,

Office Hours:

By appointment.


The text for the course is Social Problems: A Down to Earth Approach, 9th Ed. by James Henslin.The text is available in the bookstore but may be purchased elsewhere.


This course is a lecture and discussion course. Roughly, half of the class time will involve lecture by the professor, with the remaining time spent in student lead debates and discussions. Questions, comments, and discussion are welcome at any time. Students should feel free to express their ideas and opinions, but must allow others to do the same. All arguments should be made rationally, logically, and respectfully. You are not required to agree with the instructor, however, you are expected to be able to discuss material presented by the instructor on exams, even if you disagree with it. Reading assignments are specified in the course outline. Lectures expand on assigned readings and include substantial material not in the readings. All class documents, including this syllabus and the course outline are available on-line at


Students are expected to attend class, listen attentively, take good notes, and keep up with assigned readings. Students are also expected to participate in class discussions. While no specific credit is given for attendance and participation, students who come to class and take part in discussions always make better grades. Further, students who have attended regularly and been active in the class are likely to receive extra points when final grades are assigned, especially if they are on the borderline between two letter grades.

Two in-class essay exams consisting of 4 questions each will be given. Exam questions will be selected randomly from a set of study questions provided for each block of material. Study questions are posted on the web and may be accessed via the course outline. Students will have approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to write their answers. While the exams are not cumulative, the nature of the material is such that concepts and ideas presented early in the semester may reappear. The exams are each worth 100 points each.

Students are also expected to participate in 2 debates.A sign-up sheet will be passed around the second day of class for students to select their debate topics.A list possible topics is available online at the topics are selected, the instructor will announce due dates.Students are expected to turn in an outline of their major points prior to the debate.Grades will be based on the studentís knowledge of the issue and the presentation of their arguments.Each debate is worth 50 points.

Finally, students are expected to write a 5-10 page paper analyzing a specific social problem of their choosing.Approval of the selected problem must be obtained from the instructor.The paper should address the 6 questions contained in the document Questions to Ask When Analyzing Social Problems.The paper is worth 100 points and is due July 5.


A total of 400 points is possible. Total points earned will be divided by 4 and grades assigned according to the following percentage scale: 90-100=A, 87-89=B+, 83-86=B, 80-82=B-, 77-79=C+, 73-76=C, 70-72=C-, 67-69=D+, 63-66=D, 60-62=D- and less than 60=F.


Copying someone's exam, using notes or other resources during an exam, having someone complete papers or other assignments for you, and plagiarism (claiming another's written work as you own, including materials obtained from the internet) will be considered cheating. Students engaging in such acts may not only be given a zero on the exam or assignment in question, but may fail the course as well. Additionally, the professor may report such actions to appropriate university officials for subsequent action, including probation or suspension. (See the Student Handbook.)


To retain Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility, you must earn a cumulative TELS GPA of 2.75 after 24 attempted hours and a cumulative TELS GPA of 3.0 thereafter. A grade of C, D, F, or I in this class may negatively impact TELS eligibility. Dropping a class after 14 days may also impact eligibility. If you withdraw from this class and it results in an enrollment status of less than full time, you may lose eligibility for your lottery scholarship. For additional lottery scholarship rules please refer to your Lottery Statement of Understanding form, review lottery scholarship requirements on the web at, or contact the MTSU financial aid office at 898-2830.


If you have a disability that requires assistance or accommodation, or if you have any questions related to accommodations for testing, note taking, reading, etc., please speak with me as soon as possible.  You may also contact the Office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783) with questions about their services. Students registered with the Office of Disabled Student Services will be accommodated as best as possible.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at MTSU hosts an Undergraduate Social Science Symposium each Fall to give undergraduate students an opportunity to present papers they have written in various social science classes. If you are interested in presenting the paper you write for this class or papers you have written for other classes, please contact the Sociology Department at 898-2508.

Additional information of interest to sociology students, majors, and minors is available on the Department of Sociology and Anthropology web page at