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Courses Taught

Introduction to Sociology Summer 2019, Summer 2020, Summer 2021

This course introduces students to the discipline of sociology. Sociology is the systematic study of social interaction and institutions. However, the aforementioned definition does not capture the richness, nor disciplinary possibility of the field. This course will help illuminate what sociology is, how it is relevant to other disciplines, its utility across diverse social issues and events, and what you can do with sociology professionally. Students are introduced to social structure and institutions, culture, socialization, social inequality, research methods, and social change. This course includes an examination of major research findings and theories, as well as exposure to a range of methodologies and methods. Ultimately, students are asked to situate their positionalities, then to gaze upon the familiar with a critical lens to uncover new meanings.

  • Learning Outcome 1: Be able to define sociology with layers and nuance.

  • Learning Outcome 2: Articulate multiple ways to do sociology.

  • Learning Outcome 3: Explore major sociological theories, frameworks, and concepts.

  • Learning Outcome 4: Unpack the relevance of sociology to everyday folk, issues, events, and other fields.

  • Learning Outcome 5: More easily create and substantiate evidence-based claims with academic research.

Student-created topic map for this course

Sociology of the Black Community – Spring 2021

Sociology of the Black Community will be a sociological investigation into various facets of Black life and culture. We will explore Black communities in urban, suburban, and rural contexts. Through collaborative and independent projects, we will utilize a Black epistemology (way of knowing) to validate the layered multiplicities of Black lived realities. We will incorporate creative writing, music, academic articles, books, and biographies to situate our communal knowledges through various texts. Topics will include music, sexuality, fashion, education, health, and politics. The intention is to deconstruct traditional notions of what a classroom is (especially during a global pandemic) and center a Black liberation ideology in our shared learning experience, with the intention of building community.

  • Learning Outcome 1: Explain at least one social issue relevant to the Black community with depth and nuance, and articulate how that issue manifests differently for diverse demographics in the Black community.

  • Learning Outcome 2: Articulate and describe how various social issues in the Black community are interconnected.

  • Learning Outcome 3: Explore socio-historical issues relevant to the Black community and situate them historically.

  • Learning Outcome 4: Identify strengths of the Black community by moving away from deficit logics and models.

  • Learning Outcome 5: More easily locate and employ research-backed evidence to support your claims.

  • Learning Outcome 6: Develop critical & accessible writing skills by engaging with rigorous academic texts through blogs and creative writing.

Student-created topic map for this course

Poem co-written by students as a freewrite via Zoom chat

Course playlist - curated by students and instructor

Contemporary Social Problems – Fall 2020

Contemporary Social Problems is a sociological examination of select social issues and problems of present concern in society. We will consider the problem, the frame, claim-makers, place, and time to explore issues multidimensionally. This theoretical approach to interrogating social problems will allow us to more comprehensively understand them. We will intentionally center resolutions, hope, and social change, knowing that none of the problems will be “solved” in our course.


  • Learning Outcome 1: Comprehensively describe multiple social problems using sociological frameworks in writing.

  • Learning Outcome 2: Critique depictions of social problems in popular culture, and utilize evidence-based research.

  • Learning Outcome 3: Unpack the socio-historical dynamics of social issues with interdisciplinary tools and resources.

  • Learning Outcome 4: Conceptualize the problem, frame, claim-makers, place, and time of an issue with specificity.

  • Learning Outcome 5: Employ teamwork, accountability, and communication skills to work in pairs and groups.

Student-created topic map for this course

Student-created infographic - Colorism

Student-created infographic - Gentrification

Sociology of the Family – Spring 2019, Spring 2020

Sociology of the Family examines the ways in which families influence, and are influenced by society - a more apt name is Sociology of Families. Students will explore diverse family structures and family experiences across different demographics. This course will deconstruct essentialist notions of families that prioritize white, cis-heterosexual, middle-class, child-rearing families, and marginalize all other family types. Students will be challenged to differently understand that which they know best, their own families. Additionally, students will many experiences that are different than their own through various topics. Some of the course topics will include an examination of family diversity, mate selection, habitation politics, marriage, divorce, sexualities, child-rearing, and domestic violence.


  • Learning Outcome 1: Describe how major sociological theories explain families and family relationships.

  • Learning Outcome 2: Understand how the family has changed as a social institution over time.

  • Learning Outcome 3: Critically examine media representations of the family using a sociological lens.

  • Learning Outcome 4: Describe the relationships between different social institutions and families.

  • Learning Outcome 5: Articulate how identities such as race, class, gender, dis/ability, and sexuality impacts families.

© 2021 by Marquis Johnson. All rights reserved.

Sociology of Black Families – Fall 2018, Fall 2019

This course explores the socio-historical experiences of Black families in the U.S, with particular attention to deconstructing myths and understanding the diversity of Black families. The course will examine the trends in family formation over time, with particular attention to narrative construction, data limitations, and awareness of definitional impact. Additionally, we will explore the experiences of a range of family structures, such as single-mother families, queer platonic partnerships, multiracial Black families, grandparent surrogate parenting, and many others. Students will interrogate the influence of social institutions on Black family life and culture. We will face critical debates such as the cultural permanence and value of Black family traditions like jumping the broom at weddings and which song is best for the Electric Slide. Ultimately, students will be asked to define what is a Black family?

  • Learning Outcome 1: Employ a strength-based approach to better understand Black families.

  • Learning Outcome 2: Connect historical experiences of Black folks in America to persistent social issues in Black families.

  • Learning Outcome 3: Describe the major theories, trends, and research methods in the study of Black families.

  • Learning Outcome 4: Explain how race, class, gender, dis/ability, and sexuality shape Black family experiences.

  • Learning Outcome 5: Understand media depictions of Black families and their appearance in sociological research.

  • Learning Outcome 6: Identify aspects of Black culture, understand how they are created & reproduced in Black families, and unpack how they function and appear outside of the family unit and outside the Black community.

Independent Study: Health and Well-Being of Black Girls – Spring 2019

The Health and Well-Being of Black Girls highlights various experiences in Black girls’ lives as an entry point to exploring the relevance of Black feminist sociology in action. Students will synthesize interdisciplinary research on Black girls’ lives related to education, health, sexuality, family, and beauty. The course will also be a methodological training ground for determining multiple strategies to center Black girls’ voices and knowledges in social science research. Critical autobiography and positionality statements will help guide students’ own Black girl narratives and reframe them through a sociological lens. Additionally, students in this course will explore public sociology and its relevance to Black girls’ survival. Through a partnership with a community organization, students will consider how Black girl storytelling can be Black feminist sociology praxis.


  • Learning Outcome 1: Detail some of the unique educational challenges of Black girls.

  • Learning Outcome 2: Analyze tropes of Black women and girls and the subversive power of counternarratives.

  • Learning Outcome 3: Understand the sexual politics of Black girls outside of deficit models.

  • Learning Outcome 4: Define and utilize at least two different social science coding strategies in qualitative research.

  • Learning Outcome 5: Participate in at least 2 professional development opportunities, such as presenting at a research conference, writing a community report, or submitting a publication.

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