SOCI-141-01 Social Innovation
Spring for 2017-2018
Human beings are restlessly creative. In the relatively short period of 10,000 years human societies have evolved from simple hunting and gathering groups to complex global societies that include billions of people with highly diverse cultures, values and spiritual beliefs.
There have been critical inflection points or paradigm shifts in this story during which world views and civilizations were radically altered. What are the origins of these paradigm shifts? Why do some ideas and beliefs prevail and others wither? What are the social conditions that give rise to change and what is the importance in human agency in bringing about change? Why do civilizations rise and fall?
The essential premise of this course is that change is the result of social innovation. By social innovation I mean the complex web of ideas, material advances and political arrangements that promote invention, discovery and risk taking. The course is structured around three major inflection points in social innovation: the birth of the agricultural society, the birth of the industrial society, and the birth of the electronic society. Each of these inflection points is treated as a case study. The materials include classical and contemporary readings about the period under examination, studies of the aesthetic, artistic and spiritual expressions for each period, biographical case studies of each period’s “Ideal Type,” and museum field trips were some key artifacts of social innovation can be seen firsthand. I believe that the sociological imagination is present in all of us – my goal is ignite the social imaginations of students by using cross-disciplinary materials woven together by sociological theory and reasoning and to call on the power of idealism as the fuel for lifelong learning.
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