Sociology | Education and Society
S312 | 3666 | Maurice Garnier
Education consumes a large portion of the gross domestic product (6.7%
in the U.S. in 1995 all types of education; 7% in Canada), it
socializes young people, trains future employees in many different
skills. In addition, higher education institutions are responsible
for a significant portion of all scientific research. It is therefore
not surprising that, in all countries, education is the focus of much
attention, usually to deplore some trend: decreasing SAT scores in the
US, inequality of access on the basis of gender, social class, or
ethnic membership, etc.
The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of how
education and society interrelate, i.e., how education is affected by
cultural, economic and political forces and how, in turn, education
The course focuses on American education, but we will discuss the
educational systems of other countries. Such a comparative
perspective makes it possible to see more clearly how social forces
In order to understand what forces shape American educational
institutions, we will first examine the problem of performance. Then
we will turn our attention to several factors that may affect that
performance. Then we will consider some of the intended and
unintended outcomes, in particular the claims made about the
contribution education makes to economic growth. Lastly, we will
examine some of the reforms that have been proposed.
Some topics will be presented in the form of lectures; others will
take the form of class discussions, still others of individual or
group presentations. Participation is not an option, but a
requirement. If a particular problem prevents you from participating,
let me know.
My experience tells me that an early exercise provides useful feedback
concerning expectations. Thus, there will be a short essay due at the
end of the first 5 weeks.
In addition to the paper and prepared statements, there will be a
mid-term and a comprehensive final.
No make-ups are given, except under the most unusual circumstances.
Each assignment and examination is given a number of points. 90% of
the max earns an A-, 80% a B-, 70% a C- etc. It is therefore
theoretically possible for everyone to earn an A, assuming that every
student falls within 10% of the max score.