Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:Kimberly Chang
Office Extension x5668
Term: 2014F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105

This course is designed for students transitioning from Division I to Division II to introduce them to the diverse methods and forms of inquiry employed in the School of Critical Social Inquiry, while critically considering the implications of method for the production of knowledge.  Questions we will explore include: Why do we choose certain methodologies over others?  What kinds of philosophical assumptions underlie our choices?  How does choice of method enable or limit what we can know, or even preclude certain forms of knowledge?  Are some methods more viable for studying particular subjects or questions?  Why are some methods privileged as more valid or legitimate ways of knowing than others?  What is the relationship between method and form?  When do methodological conventions work for or against other goals, such as social justice and community empowerment?

Each week a faculty guest speaker will share with the class a current or past research project, focusing on the “behind the scenes” stories of the methodological and ethical assumptions, dilemmas, and decisions that drove his/her research and the knowledge produced through it.  Parallel discussions will focus on this research in relation to the larger questions and themes of the course.  Students are expected to spend 6-8 hours/week of preparation and work outside of class time, and develop a research proposal by the end of the semester.

Course Objectives:
  1. To introduce students to the faculty in the School of Critical Social Inquiry, the kinds of questions we ask, research methodologies we use, writing we produce.
  2. To demystify the social research process by going “behind the scenes” to reveal the methodological dilemmas and choices that drive the research and the knowledge produced through it.
  3. To learn to read and think critically regarding the epistemological assumptions behind methodology, the power of method to produce knowledge, and the ethics of community-engaged scholarship.
  4. To understand what it means to take an interpretive approach to social research and how to be more intentional, creative, and ethical in our own research and writing choices.
Evaluation Criteria:

 (1) Attendance—A class is a community of learners, with attendance a measure of your commitment to this community and to your own learning.  With the exception of serious illness or family emergency, every student is expected to be present at every class.  If you are unable to attend class due to illness or emergency, please email me within 24 hours of your absence.  Students with more than three absences will not receive an evaluation.

(2) Readings/Discussion: This course is designed as a seminar in which your preparation for and participation in class is essential to the learning experience.  Please come to class on time and prepared to discuss the assigned readings.  As you read, try to get in the habit of writing down questions, comments, and/or quotations through which you can contribute to class discussions.  If you tend to be quiet in class, experiment with formulating one comment or question per class.  If you are talkative, be mindful of your own participation in relation to others.  Let’s all try to be respectful of the different kinds of experience and knowledge we each bring into the classroom, listening and responding to one another in ways that will deepen the learning experience for all!

(3) Writing Assignments—There will be five writing assignments over the course of the semester (see syllabus below for due dates).  The assignments build on one another and are designed to help you explore your Division II academic interests, find and articulate the specific research problems and questions you want to pursue, consider different ways of studying and knowing about them—and ultimately to develop a proposal for a research project that you might actually undertake in the near future (e.g., Div II or III). 

Assignment #1: Devising Div II (5 pages, due Sept. 18)

Assignment #2: Asking Interpretive Questions (5 pages, due Oct. 7)

Assignment #3: Annotated Bibliography (at least 6 sources) and Statement of Problem/Questions (2-3 pages, due Oct. 30)

Assignment #4: First Draft of Research Proposal (10-12 pages, due Nov. 20)

Assignment #5: Imagination Piece (due on day of performance)

(5) Course Portfolio— Evaluation at Hampshire is portfolio-based.  At the end of the semester, each student will submit a portfolio of all work completed for the course, including the final draft of your research proposal and all other work for the course (original papers with my comments—you should get into the habit of saving all original coursework for your Div II portfolio)).  You should also write a self-evaluation of your own learning, and include this in the portfolio as well as post it on the Hub.


Additional Info:

Required Texts and Readings

We will begin with Immanuel Wallerstein’s Open the Social Sciences: Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences (Standord U., 1996).  This and all other required readings which will be posted on the Moodle course website.  Go to and log in using your e-mail username and password.  Be sure to check the website regularly for class announcements or any changes to the syllabus.  Important: Please come to class with the readings in hand to discuss, either hard copy or you may use your computer to view them.

Note on use of computers in the classroom: In order to create an environment in which we are fully engaged with one another, I ask that you keep your computers closed except when consulting the readings.