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Course: Politics and Society

University of Southern Maine

Promising Approaches

  • (1) Provide instruction in academic disciplines through the lens of government, history, law and democracy.
  • (2) Incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom.
  • (5) Encourage student participation in leadership.


This is a 3-credit undergraduate elective sociology course offered in the spring of odd-numbered years, open to majors and non-majors.  Description of learning objectives and activities:

This course provides an overview of political sociology, the study of power and power structures at all levels of society. Students’ active participation in class, attention to the readings and engagement in group and individual learning activities will enable them to achieve familiarity with many significant aspects of this subdiscipline and to apply them to their own life experiences.  A number of students have become involved in political or civic issues for the first time as a consequence of work initially undertaken while they were enrolled in this course. Discussions have included the significance of the “under God” clause in the Pledge of Allegiance; the complexity of political beliefs; and projects geared towards community economic development.

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic Knowledge: realization that democracy looks different in different nation-states (that the United States practices a form of democracy, but not the only one); familiarity with the Bill of Rights and how amendments to the Constitution apply in daily life.
  • Civic Skills: appreciation for the complexity of many public policy issues and understanding of why people have the political beliefs they do; willingness to look for “news” in different sources.
  • Civic Attitudes/Dispositions:tolerance, passion about issues, concern about local civic issues.

Contact Information

Donna Bird, adjunct assistant professor of sociology at USM

See information about the course at

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy