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Global Social Problems
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Social problems
social issues
human rights

How to Cite

MacCartney, Danielle. 2021. “Global Social Problems”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, June. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This social problems syllabus includes readings and film suggestions for a global, cross-cultural, or comparative social problems course. The topics included are fairly standard for any social problems course – race, class, gender, crime, environment, and so on. This syllabus also provides an opportunity to teach students about international human rights...

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Subject Area(s):
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems
Resource Type(s):
Class Level(s):
College 200
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This syllabus is based on a 16-week, face-to-face, small class (25 students). To scale it to a larger class size, professors may want to omit the drafts of the paper or may utilize peer review of the first draft.

To reduce the number of weeks, instructors can cut the topics which utilize two weeks (e.g., poverty and inequality; race and ethnic...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. 1. Define social problems;
  2. 2. Identify how the complexity of cultural rules regarding race, class, gender, and cultural context affect individual life chances;
  3. 3. Critically evaluate the causes and consequences of major social problems in the U.S. and globally.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Exams and quizzes can assess if students can define social problems. The final comparative social problems paper also includes a prompt for students to explain how the topic they selected fits the definition of a social problem.
  2. The final paper asks students to identify the groups affected by the social problem they selected and by discussing how the history, politics, beliefs and practices of a particular culture affect the social problem.
  3. The final paper asks students to explain the causes and consequences of the social problem they selected. Essay or short answer questions can on the quizzes, midterm, and final exam can be another assessment source.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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