Sociology 486

SOCY 486: Engaging the Community

Prerequisites: SOCY 110 or SOCY 121/ANTH 121, or permission of instructor.

Credit Hours: (3)

Examines the ways that social science perspectives, theories, and methods are applied to help communities solve problems.


Detailed Description of Content of the Course

The class provides an introduction to the field of community-based research.  It covers the history, research issues, and current directions in community-based research, examining ways that social scientists put their perspectives, theories, and methods to work in an applied manner to solve social problems.

The course is designed to give an overview to community research and development by covering the following topics:

  • The historic development of community-based research as a recognized and growing area of practice,
  • A survey of applied community-based research activities and directions, including examination of applied projects involving planning, health care, economic development, political action, and cultural heritage preservation
  • Different forms and styles of community research and development
  • Ethical issues in community research
  • The research design of community-based projects
  • Case examples of community-based research in Appalachia, the U. S., and outside the U.S. in international settings

Career-oriented reading and discussion aimed at helping students identify applied opportunities for using social science skills/knowledge/training in their own post-B.S./B.A. careers, to guide undergraduates in their search for jobs in the areas mentioned above


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A combination of lecture and informal discussion is used in this course.  Both focus upon assigned readings, audio-visual presentation, and applicable materials drawn from media discussions of current events.


Goals and Objectives of Course

Having successfully completed this course, students will:

  • Be able to explain the social science perspectives, theories, and methods that are put into practice in community-based research and development
  • Have an understanding of the wide range of applied professional activities engaged in by practitioners in community-based research and development (e.g. from health care policy development to heritage preservation projects)
  • Be able to explain the fundamentals of community-based research design
  • Be able to explain the ethical guidelines and considerations involved in community-based research and development
  • Know how to access information about community-based research from professional social science organizations
  • Have knowledge of applied professional career opportunities and career paths in community research and development


Assessment Measures

Assessment measures will include all or some of the following: written essay assignments, tests, oral presentations, visual and/or computer presentations, peer evaluation of work on cooperative group assignments, evaluation by the professor of class performance and participation.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

February, 2009, Dr. Paula Brush, Chair, Department of Sociology