TEACHING

Learn more about Dr. Stokes' passion
for teaching and access selected teaching
publications and course materials.

 

MY APPROACH TO TEACHING

 


Sociology can fire the imagination. Sociology can clarify our world. Sociology can empower people and drive social change. As someone who has seen how sociology can change lives and change the world, I embrace the teacher-scholar model of pedagogy and am thrilled to share my drive and passion for sociology with students in my classes.


As illustrated by my peer-reviewed teaching publications, class activities, and discussions, I make use of empirically proven best practices. I strive to connect with students on a human level to provide innovative experiences that challenge students to become active participants and critically reflective of their learning.


My approach is solidly grounded in inclusive pedagogy, and active, inquiry-based teaching. Of particular emphasis is the development of students’ self-analytical, self-reflective, critical, and methodological skills to learn how to use and apply their learning. Together, we explore taken for granted assumptions and hidden power dynamics that shape our lived experiences and social relationships.


This approach empowers students to connect sociological knowledge to their lives and to see their personal experiences in new ways. This approach also engages students to discover and kickstart their own research interests, to make sense of world events, and to apply their learning to see how amazing sociology can be in helping us to understand and solve today’s most pressing social problems.


 

 

 

 

PEER-REVIEWED TEACHING PUBLICATIONS*

 


My peer-reviewed teaching publications below provide illustrative examples of the active learning approach and diversity of teaching methods I use in my classes.

 


*Note: As noted on the TRAILS website of the American Sociological Association, “All new submissions to TRAILS undergo a two stage peer review process using public criteria based on empirically proven best practices in higher education... TRAILS provides a new form of evidence... to help schools more objectively measure excellence in teaching."

 


"Rule Making, Rule Breaking, and Power"

Laws have a profound and complex impact on our lives and those around us. In this assignment, students work with a fellow classmate to write a short, collaborative paper in which they will evaluate their experiences or perspectives with a law of their choosing in light of content presented in an assigned reading. Students pick a law that has had an impact on their life in and use sociological concepts and perspectives to identify power dynamics at play in the law.

Read Writing Empirical Research Papers

 


"Writing Empirical Research Papers"

Writing is a common activity in academia for students and professionals alike. Here are a number of the considerations that many journal reviewers and professors have in mind when reviewing empirical manuscripts. This checklist is by no means comprehensive and is directed at helping to shape student writing activities so as to generate quality empirical research papers.

Read Writing Empirical Research Papers

 


"Creating and Challenging the Status Quo"

Rules that sustain many forms of domination are typically created and imposed by the state. Laws can be used to stabilize power, especially by means of the state's bureaucratic apparatus and by means of its coercive resources for monitoring and enforcing compliance. But domination and effects of rules are never total--people have agency and can resist. In this activity the class will be challenged to find ways to both support and resist a law of the class's choosing.

Read Creating and Challenging the Status Quo

 


"State Formation and the Challenges of Creating a New Country"

Creating a new country along with a state apparatus to run it is tricky business. But what if you were challenged to create a new country yourself? How would you do it? In this activity students are challenged to draw upon course material on state formation and the emergence of new nations and states to symbolically create new countries and states themselves, gaining greater understanding of course materials and their real world applications in the process.

State Formation and the Challenges of Creating a New Country

 


"Preparing for Applied and Conceptual Exams"

This hand-out guides student activities as they go about the business of preparing for applied and conceptual multiple choice exams. It also serves as an excellent study guide for students well beyond coursework in political sociology.

Preparing for Applied and Conceptual Exams

 


"Political Sociology Syllabus"

Political Sociology is centrally concerned with political relations, policies, and practices as well as larger questions of conflict, cooperation, power, influence, and authority. Drawing on innovative methods of instruction, class discussions, and group activities, this course aims to provide a fun and intellectually stimulating environment in which to survey the dynamic field of political sociology, including: the nature and roles of power, influence, and authority; citizenship, nationalism, the state and nation; the sociology of law; class, the power elite, and political economy; transnational processes, imperialism, and hegemony; social movements and social change; gender; race, culture, and identity politics; and a wide array of other topics that impact our world today. (pdf)

Political Sociology Syllabus

 

 

 

 

   

SAMPLE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS AND SYLLABI

Please note that the course descriptions and syllabi posted below are for illustrative purposes only and do not necessarily reflect those in currently in use or those slated for future use. Syllabi and course descriptions are updated as needed.

 


Political Sociology

Political Sociology is centrally concerned with political relations, policies, and practices as well as larger questions of conflict, cooperation, power, influence, and authority. Drawing on innovative methods of instruction, class discussions, and group activities, this course aims to provide a fun and intellectually stimulating environment in which to survey the dynamic field of political sociology, including: the nature and roles of power, influence, and authority; citizenship, nationalism, the state and nation; the sociology of law; class, the power elite, and political economy; transnational processes, imperialism, and hegemony; social movements and social change; gender; race, culture, and identity politics; and a wide array of other topics that impact our world today. The course aims to critically survey the dominant theories in the field and will, in the latter portion of the course, briefly introduce students to a selection of research methods that can be used in the study of politics. This course is directed at critically engaging the world around us. Given the breadth and depth of the field, our topical coverage will necessarily be uneven and incomplete. Over the course of our time together we will explore many topics together, asking questions like: What is power? How are political institutions held together or torn apart? What does it mean to be a nation, state, or empire? How are our identities and relationships affected by the political institutions? How and why do some societies exert power and domination over others--and how do others resist?

 


Race, Class, and Gender

This comparative course draws together a multidisciplinary set of readings to examine the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and social class. Readings include theories of inequality and case studies. We will use a critical and global lens to explore the ways in which these categories shape life chances and produce inequalities. In particular, we will examine the ways in which these categories are socially constructed rather than based upon claims of innate biological differences. We will study some of the major sociological explanations that account for the persistence of inequality based upon the interaction of these categories. We will critically examine the ways in which race, racism, gender, and class are shaped by social institutions such as the economy, schools, and family, as well as by individual experiences. We will similarly examine the ways race, gender, sexuality, and class are principles of the social organization of selves and identities, interactions and groups, and social institutions.

 


Social Problems

Despite the considerable progress our society has made, many problems continue to confront us. Members of the GLBTQ community are still denied basic rights and services. Many Americans do not enjoy religious freedom. Women are not paid the same wages as men. And many people continue to be harassed and murdered for the color of their skin. Superficially, such events may seem unrelated, but they often have similar sources, and often prompt similar responses. This course will introduce you to the sociological study of contemporary social problems in the United States. By taking this course, you will learn to examine social problems from a larger perspective and see how our personal lives are connected with larger social realities. The goal of the course is to develop your ability to make sense of social problems that confront our society. The course will help you develop your critical thinking and writing skills, and will challenge you to think through social problems to make informed arguments and find pragmatic solutions. Confronted with perplexing and often damaging social problems, we will ask questions like “How can I help myself and those I care about?”, “Why do some people turn out to be deeply prejudiced while others become egalitarian?”, and “Why do social problems persist, and what can we do about it?"

 


Societies

In an age of shifting global alliances and international conflict, future professionals are increasingly seeking to develop more thoughtful and informed global perspectives. This interactive six-week summer course is open to all undergraduates who wish to explore global issues in a dynamic and multicultural environment. The course enables students to critically analyze forces pulling and pushing societies apart—including topics such as race, gender, culture, politics, conflict, economics, and globalization.

 


Introduction to Sociology

This course will introduce you to sociology, its theories, research methods, and perspectives. In this class, you will learn how to think sociologically with different theoretical lenses about world events and major social problems around topics like class, gender, race, sexuality, and inequality. Due to time constraints and the impressive breadth of topics we will explore together, content coverage will necessarily be incomplete. This is no worry, however, as our goal is not to be exhaustive, but rather to develop your ability to think sociologically about the world around you. With a sociological perspective, we can find new ways to critically analyze world events and find solutions to many of today’s most pressing social problems.

 


Criminology

This course will introduce you to the sociological study of crime, its causes and consequences, theories, research methods, and perspectives. In this class, you will learn how to think sociologically with different theoretical lenses about criminal behavior. You will learn to think critically about what law and crime are, the relationships between law, crime, and society, the organization of our legal system, the interaction between people coming into contact with our legal system (citizens) and the system’s representatives (police, judges, lawyers, etc.), and how we construct meaning of law and crime, formal and informal mechanisms of control, the roles of the police, courts, lawyers, and justice system.

 


Elementary Statistics

This interactive course is open to all undergraduates who wish to explore how to do sociology by using statistics in a dynamic environment. Statistics gives us a powerful tool with which we can cut through the hype and propaganda that is so often thrown at us by biased interests. With statistics, we can find new ways to critically analyze events and find solutions to many of today’s most pressing social problems. This course will give you an introduction to basic statistics employed in the sociological analyses, covering descriptive statistics, probability, sampling distributions, inferential statistics, tests of significance, contingency tables, measures of correlation, and more.

 


Wealth and Power

The interdependence of power and wealth is discussed in the context of American society. The role of the multi-national corporation and the global economy are examined. The pervasive power of some is contrasted with the generalized powerlessness of the majority. In the beginning of our time together, we will examine central concepts and perspectives that most commonly come to mind when we think about wealth and power and examine major theorists like Marx, Weber, and others. We then will turn to G. William Domhoff’s excellent text, Who Rules America, to examine some of the intricacies of how wealth and power operate in greater detail. Then, to cap off the course, we will turn our attention to more commonly overlooked aspects of wealth and power, such as their foundations in imperialism that have carried forward since the forming of America into non-class forms of inequality, such as race, gender, and class and where these forms of inequality overlap and intersect. This structure helps us to more critically appraise what we conceive of as wealth and power, to situate them historically, and to further reveal how wealth and power operate in sometimes hidden ways in our daily lives.

 


Social Research Methods

In a world bombarded with conspiracy theories and rampant misinformation, there has never been a more important time to make facts great again. Social scientists use the scientific method to cut through the hype and broaden and deepen our understanding of this complex world around us. This course will introduce you to some of the scientific methods that social scientists use to make sense of the world in a way that goes beyond bias, supposition, opinion, and personal agendas to uncover our deeper, empirical reality. Through our lectures, readings, assignments, and a research project, this course will engage you in the art and science of social research, including research design, data collection and analysis, and effectively communicating research findings.

 


Gender and Sexuality

The terms “gender” and “sexuality” mask a multitude of interlocking identities, experiences, locations, processes, and institutions that shape our social world. In this course, we will critically explore the complex intersections of gender and sexuality from diverse lived, theoretical, and empirical perspectives. Drawing on our diverse experiences, discussions, activities, and more, we will investigate the social construction of gender and sexuality and their intersections with race, class, domination and resistance, inequality, socialization, ideology, religion, morality, social control, and beyond. Towards this end, we will examine gender and sexuality from a cross-cultural and intersectional perspective that seeks to decenter patriarchy, heteronormativity, and whiteness.

 


Race and Ethnicity

In an era that has witnessed a surge in racist hate crimes, politicians echoing the views of the Ku Klux Klan, and bans against the teaching about race and Critical Race Theory in classrooms across the United States, the study of race and ethnicity has never been timelier. This comparative course draws together a multidisciplinary set of readings to examine the complexities of race and ethnicity. We will use a critical lens to explore the ways in which these race shapes life chances and produces inequalities. In particular, we will examine the ways in race and ethnicity are socially constructed rather than based upon claims of innate biological differences. We will study some of the major sociological explanations that account for the persistence of inequality based upon the interaction of these categories. We will critically examine the ways in which race is shaped by social institutions such as the economy, schools, and family, as well as by individual experiences. We will similarly examine the ways our understandings and definition of race has evolved over time and how race shapes the social organization of our selves and identities, interactions and group memberships, and social institutions.

 


Sociology of Native Americans

Before the United States existed, sovereign and independent nations of Indigenous peoples called these lands home. Today most commonly called Native Americans, these nations made and continue to make immeasurable contributions to the prosperity of the United States. Contrary to the stereotypical Hollywood image of peoples long since vanished and locked in the past, Native peoples continue to live and thrive today. This course provides a brief introduction to the diverse lives, voices, and complex histories of this land’s original inhabitants from a sociological perspective. With over 600 state and federally recognized tribes in the U.S., our coverage will necessarily be uneven and incomplete. Instead, we will critically examine a selection of some of the most pressing and consequential issues facing Native American peoples today from a post-colonial perspective. Of particular interest will be developing a critical sociological perspective that decenters whiteness and the living legacy of imperial colonialism while appreciating the many strengths and contributions of Native American peoples. Topics include but are not limited to: settler colonialism and empire, tribal identities and identity politics, federal and state recognition of tribes and their impact on Indigenous rights and resources, colonial and post-colonial treaty relations, Native American activism and social movements, gender and sexuality, tribal politics, sovereignty, the racialization of Native Americans, and Native American self-determination.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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