Course Syllabus: Introduction to Social Problems
Instructor: Eric Strayer

TEXTBOOK(s) (required):
1) Alessio, John C. Introduction to Social Problems
Social Problems and Inequality, Hardback; ISBN 978-1-4094-1987-7 also available on Kindle. Library has one copy on EBSCOHost ebooks (available one at a time) and I have on hardbound copy in the library under my name.
2) Barkan, Steve, Social Problems: Continuity and Change. Limited use only, available free online at
3) Introduction to Sociology 2e, Openstax, Limited use only, free online (best for PDF download) NOTE: Additional readings, videos, and audios will be assigned.

CONFIRMATION: I have included a short quiz on the syllabus as a prerequisite for participating in this class. It is based upon the contents of this syllabus. You do need to take this stuff seriously. Go for it.

(Face-to-Face) ACCOMMODATION REQUEST: Just as the school and I are to accommodate students with special needs, the reverse is true. I have a hearing problem that includes both audibility and pitch. So, with some students, even if I am directly in front of them, it is still inaudible. Please feel free to repeat what that student has said. It is weird, I know. Thanks for your help.

(Face-to-Face) EMERGENCY: The campus safety and facilities emergency status bulletin telephone number is 831-796-6222. From a campus line, simply dial 6222. This line will announce any known emergency situations or outages on campus. To report an emergency, please contact campus security at 755-6888. The Hartnell campus emergency website is here: (Links to an external site.)

(Face-to-Face) EVACUATION: Directions are pending, however in such an emergency assist any disabled persons near you, and absolutely do NOT cluster around the doorways or block walkways, even if you think it is only a drill, as this will obstruct entry by emergency responders.
Hartnell College offers an SMS-based emergency notification service for your mobile phone. Go to this web address and subscribe: (Links to an external site.) . You will be doing yourself and the rest of the campus a tremendous service if you do.
On one of the walls is a clear folder with a list of instructions specific to a variety of emergencies.
IN CASE OF AN INTRUDER ALERT, should the instructor not be available for some reason, a small box is on the wall next to the door. It contains a key to lock the class IN. You must break the box by stepping on it.

TECHNICAL: For my classes, whether fully online of in a hybrid fashion, I use a learning management system (LMS). As of late, there are numerous ones being used. I tend to use Canvas as I have a personal account. I do blend it with other LMSs, especially regarding enrollment. Hartnell currently uses Etudes. You will to.

TECHNICAL 2: I use other technologies as well. In particular is Google Drive and Google Circles (Google+). Hartnell students have an account through the school upon registering. You must learn it. I will help. There are many videos on Youtube that may be helpful, as well as a help page on the email instruction page of the Hartnell website found here: (Links to an external site.) .

TECHNICAL 3: Hartnell/Etudes dilemma. Where is Canvas anyway? Assignments in Etudes will at times be based upon material found in my open Canvas account called "The Sociology of Everything. It is a repository. Some material may be restricted (invisible actually), but other material may be applicable to different classes. You can play around with anything you want. But I will tell you when an assignment requires a particular resource in Canvas, even though the gradable assignment will be in Etudes.

MODULES: Several of the modules in Canvas contain information regarding detailed instructions on featured assignments, how to access information, and other miscellaneous resources including videos. If confused on something, check if help is there. Then ask your group members. Then ask me.

SAVING YOUR WORK: I have a brief essay on your responsibility for saving your work. It is in one of the first modules in Canvas. Read it. Do it. Thanks.

FINANCIAL AID: If you are dependent upon financial aid, you must take care of it the first week of class. When printed copies of books are required it is almost a certainty that there is on on reserve in the library. Check with me. Check with the library. It is your responsibility to investigate all options for successfully completing this course.

GRADES: Grade books in LMS systems are good and bad. They are great for tracking your accomplishments, but often give inaccurate measures of the total accomplishment. Check the percentage, and be advised that the posted grade is likely wrong due to ungraded assignments, or open assignments, or open tests you have not taken yet.

GRADES FOLLOW YOU: Unlike K-12, college grades are permanent. They are on file. If you transfer they will follow you. You cannot get a 4.0 back if you lose it. If you are getting behind, then withdraw. If you forget, you will very likely get an F. If you do, you may retake the class. But if you have forgotten and are just about to transfer, you may be in a serious pickle. You may also be out some tuition costs. Remember: GRADES ARE PERMANENT.

(Face-to-Face) ATTENDANCE: Attendance is mandatory and important. Coming in late and/or leaving early is unacceptable. It interrupts the class and it interrupts me. If you have a legitimate excuse we will discuss a solution. Additionally, as important information from lectures and notification of changes in the class schedule, general instructions and additional assignments will occur, it is your full responsibility to be aware of this information. In-class writing assignments will be given and cannot be made up.

(Face-to-Face ) COURTESY: Interruptions, talking, texting, Facebooking, and all the rest will get you removed from the classroom. Improper behavior such as putting your feet on the desk, table, or another chair is also unacceptable. (This must sound strange to many of you, but it happens from time to time.)

GROUP RESPONSIBILITY: If working with a group you must remain in contact with your members in a timely manner. For short term courses (Summer or Fast Track or Intersession) means nearly every day. This applies to F2F and INT. Regular sessions (18 wk) will be less demanding this way and a couple of contacts per week will suffice.

  • JOURNALING: Every student will maintain a journal of hers or his experiences in the class by recording issues and topics covered, elements taken from discussions, readings, videos and other sources, as well as a personal interpretation of what is relevant in any personal manner.
  • WRITTEN RESPONSES: Individual responses to readings, videos or other sources of information will be completed on a weekly basis. Generally such responses are about a half page (150+ words).
  • DISCUSSION ONLINE: Online discussions are often used in addition to the regular class meetings. (Recall, that hybrid means that you have another hour online just as if you had attended a class.)
  • GROUP PROJECT AND PRESENTATIONS (if used - class size dependent): The class will be divided into groups, the number of groups and members in each group being dependent upon the overall class size. Each group will focus upon a particular social problem and each member will focus upon a particular sub-topic. There will be either one two presentations for a typical 18 week class. The objective here is to integrate classical and current approaches to "current" social issues. Note: there may be a reshuffle mid term due to attrition issues.)
  • GROUP GRADING: Generally speaking, it is the individual who will be graded regarding presentation criteria such as mastery of topic and both quantity and quality of material contributed.

DROPPING CLASS: Finally, if you need to drop the class it is your responsibility to fully perform this process. If you name is still on the role at the end of the class you will be graded accordingly.

CHECK YOUR EMAIL FREQUENTLY: Whatever the school's setup, (Hartnell does most of this for you) I send Announcements often, and you should configure your system to receive them directly to the email account you use most frequently.

PLAGIARISM AND COPYING: If you have any doubts about the seriousness of this issue, I suggest you look at the policy in the Hartnell College Catalog, which can be found online at (Note: link may be dead. If so cut and paste.) There are plenty of examples of plagiarism on the web as well. If you are uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism in a particular instance, ask me. Basically, aside from a clearly cited quote, the simple re-wording of another's material, the direct copying of anyone else's work, paraphrasing another's work, or presenting someone else's work as your own, copying from a book or the internet, downloading or buying a paper written by someone else is plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offense and may go to the dean. I do check all of the major assignments for the class. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will lose all credit for the assignment, and no resubmission will be accepted. SPECIAL NOTE ON THIS TOPIC: I have included a powerpoint called "PLAGIARISM PPT" in the course. It is part of the initial agreement for participating in this course.

EXTRA CREDIT: I sometimes offer extra credit for things related to current events, or for a book review (approved by me).

(Face to face) IN CLASS ASSIGNMENTS: I do assign in-class assignments that may be based upon a previous reading or viewing. This is primarily to encourage a cross-communication of ideas and opinions on the material, and also to prevent students from attempting to complete the course in absentia--and that only because I believe in the importance of face-to-face communication whenever possible.

THE LAST MINUTE THING: Waiting until the end of the semester to talk to me about problems with your grade is unacceptable. This video may explain things. Watch it please.

IT IS YOUR EDUCATION, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: Believe it or not, you are the one responsible for your education. Not asking for clarification on assignments or not keeping up with notifications and announcements, email is your problem. I am very available through email/Canvas "inbox." You are encouraged to stay in touch with group members if part of a group. If you are a "wallflower" by nature. See me.

Library Hours can be found at

Thank you for having suffered through this syllabus. If you have any questions, please contact me immediately.