MAPSS students take one required class, “Perspectives in Social Science Analysis,” and must satisfy our methods requirement by taking one of the more than 80 methodological offerings offered across the University each year.

In consultation with your preceptor, you will select 8 graduate courses (plus Perspectives) that are tailored to your research question, disciplinary interest, and intended post-MAPSS trajectory.

Perspectives in Social Science Analysis

Our core class is offered each Fall. It is designed to demonstrate that familiar ways of partitioning the social sciences — notably those of conventional disciplines and subject matters — are inadequate representations of actual social scientific knowledge and practice. We believe that a better intellectual representation of the cosmopolitan social sciences is their division into nine fundamental perspectives, which inform the kind of questions we ask and the solutions we seek.

Methods Requirement

MAPSS students may satisfy their methods requirement by selecting from dozens of courses across the University. Our MAPSS faculty offer several methods courses in-house, which have proved very popular: Ethnographic Methods, Historical Methods, Interpretive Methods, Data Analysis, Survey Analysis, Involved Interviewing, etc. This requirement will give you the professional training necessary to write an excellent MA thesis. Many of our students will take two or three methods courses, and write multi-pronged MA theses approaching their research question from two different methodological perspectives.

MAPSS Courses

Outside of the regular University offerings, accessible through the Registrar's Time Schedules, MAPSS students may select from any of the following courses for the coming academic year. We will continue to add relevant course descriptions as they are made available.


Fall Quarter 


Perspectives in Social Science Analysis

(MAPS 30000). Dain Borges, M/W 4:30 -6:20 p.m.

The only core class in MAPSS. See above for course description.


Computing for the Social Sciences

(MAPS 30500). Benjamin Soltoff, M/W 1:30-2:50 p.m. & Weekly Lab Wednesdays 3-4:20 p.m.

This is an applied course for social scientists with little-to-no programming experience who wish to harness growing digital and computational resources. The focus of the course is on generating reproducible research through the use of programming languages and version control software. Major emphasis is placed on a pragmatic understanding of core principles of programming and packaged implementations of methods. Students will leave the course with basic computational skills implemented through many computational methods and approaches to social science; while students will not become expert programmers, they will gain the knowledge of how to adapt and expand these skills as they are presented with new questions, methods, and data.


Foundations of Human Rights

(MAPS 30700). Brian Goodman, T/Th 1:30 -2:50 p.m.

This seminar will provide graduate students with an advanced introduction to the study of human rights, covering key debates in history, law, philosophy, political science, international relations, social science, and critical theory. As a graduate seminar, this will be a small class (capped at 20 students), and a strong emphasis will be placed on in-class discussion and debate. The course will examine cutting-edge research on topics including: the origins of human rights (Section I); the concept of human dignity (Section II); the nature and grounds of human rights (Section III); the relationship between human rights morality and law (Section IV); the legality and morality of humanitarian intervention (Section V); the feasibility and claimability of human rights (Section VI); contemporary criticisms of human rights (Section VII); human rights and the accommodation of diversity (Section VIII); and the future of human rights (Section IX).


Survey Research Overview

(MAPS 30900). Martha Van Haitsma, T/Th 11:00 -12:20 p.m.

The course provides an overview of interview-based data collection methods. Each student must develop a research question to guide their research design. Students get an overview of different interview-based data collection methods (focus groups, key-informant interviews, large-N sample surveys), how to sample and design a questionnaire or interview guide for their project, and the nuts and bolts of actual recruitment, receipt control and survey administration. The instructor provides feedback for proposed elements of each student's research plan through weekly assignments. The final paper is a research proposal that outlines a plan for research to address the student's research question.


Historical Methods

(MAPS 31500). Darcy Heuring, Fridays 1:30 -4:20 p.m.

This course analyzes key methodological and conceptual problems that all historians must confront, whether we are medievalists or modernists. These include problems of structure and agency, anachronism, how to use non-textual evidence, and how to approach elusive cultural phenomena such as perceptions, attitudes and sentiments. We will examine some of the myriad ways that a range of historians have approached these problems, and in the process attempt to illuminate the complex relationship between sources, methods and theory in our own work. Ultimately, the course seeks to provide you with methodological, theoretical and conceptual tools useful in formulating and executing a substantial historical research project. Participation is absolutely essential to the success of the course, and will be evaluated as a significant part of your grade.


Ethnographic Methods

(MAPS 31600). Morris Fred, Tuesdays 3:30 - 6:20 p.m.

This seminar uses anthropological and sociological texts in conjunction with a series of practical exercises to explore how social scientists conduct ethnographic field research to produce knowledge about the ‘objects’ of their inquiry.


Methods of Data Analysis

(MAPS 31701). Peishan Fan, M/W 1:30 - 2:50 p.m.

This course is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduate students and aims to provide a strong foundation in the statistical and data analyses commonly used in the behavioral and social sciences. Topics include logistic regression, statistical inference, chi-square, analysis of variance, and repeated measures models. In addition, this course also place greater emphasis on developing practical skills, including the ability to conduct common analyses using statistical software. You will learn how to build models to investigate your data, formulate hypothesis tests as comparisons between statistical models and critically evaluate model assumptions. The goal of the course is for students to be able to define and use descriptive and inferential statistics to analyze and interpret statistical findings.


Data Analysis for Social Research

(MAPS 31750). Muh-Chung Lin, M/W 4:30 - 5:50 p.m.

The purpose of this course is help students build a solid foundation of statistical methods for social research and become proficient in using computer software for survey data analysis. Techniques acquired in this class are essential for social scientific research, and in graduate programs in sociology and professional schools such as social work, as well as job market positions which require basic to intermediate quantitative skills. Topics of this course range from the nuts and bolts of probability distributions and statistical inference to multivariate regression and its diagnostics. This course is intensive and moves pretty fast, and students are expected to work hard to have these skills “imprinted” in their minds. Further, students will have the opportunity to conduct a mini-research exercise in the second half of this course.


Interpretive Methods in Political Theory

(MAPS 31800). Chad Cyrenne, T/Th 12:30-1:50 p.m.

This seminar offers a graduate-level survey of the major interpretive schools in contemporary political thought. We’ll ask what makes each camp so attractive to its adherents; what methodological assumptions, evidentiary warrants, and technical skills are today associated with leading practitioners; what controversies divide one alternative from the next; and how to reproduce particular methodological orientations in your research. We will also revisit some fundamental questions: What do we expect good political theory to do? What falls within the “political” that it interrogates and describes? Should political theory take its bearings from history, philosophy, or empirical social science? Readings will be drawn from the Cambridge Historians, Straussians, Critical Theory, Discourse Ethics, Genealogy, Analytic Philosophy, Feminism, Social Interpretivism, Phenomenology, and Literary/Cultural Narrativism.


Anthropology and the Good Life:  Ethics, Morality, Well-Being

(MAPS 32200). Francis Mckay, Wednesdays 1:30 - 4:20 p.m.

This course takes a critical, historical and anthropological look at what is meant by “the good life.” Anthropologists have long been aware that notions of “the good” play an essential role in directing human behavior, by providing a life with meaning and shaping what it means to be a human being. Over the past several years, however, there has been an increasing demand for clarification on what is meant by “the good life,” as well as how cultural conceptions of “the good” relate to science, politics, religion, and personal practice. In this course, we will take up that challenge by exploring what is meant by “the good,” focusing on three domains in which it has most productively been theorized: ethics, morality, and well-being. Through a close reading of ethnographic and theoretical texts, as well as through analysis of documents and resources used and produced by different communities in order to explore the good life, we will gain an understanding of the different theoretical and methodological approaches for understanding the good in the social sciences, the various cultural logics shaping knowledge and practices of the good, and how human experience is shaped by those iterations in the process. The topics to be discussed include: the good life, moral reason, moral relativism, utility, deontology, virtue, happiness, well-being, flourishing, techniques of the self, spiritual exercises, professional ethics, neuroethics, and the moral sentiments.


Anthropology of Museums I

(MAPS 34500). Morris Fred, Thursdays 3:30 - 6:20 p.m.

Using anthropological theories and methodology as a conceptual framework, this seminar will explore the organizational and ideological aspects of museum culture(s). The course includes visits to museums with guest museum professionals as guides into the culture of museums.


Involved Interviewing

(MAPS 40164). Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, T/Th 9:30 - 10:50 a.m.

Imagine that you must interview someone who hails from a background unlike your own; perhaps you need to interview an incarcerated youth, or gather a life history from an ill person. Maybe your task is to conduct fieldwork inside a community that challenges your comfort level. How do we get others to talk to us? How do we get out of our own way and limited training to become fully and comfortably engaged in people and the communities in which they reside? This in-depth investigation into interviewing begins with an assumption that the researcher as interviewer is an integral part of the research process. We turn a critical eye on the interviewer’s role in getting others to talk and learn strategies that encourage fertile interviews regardless of the situational context. Weekly reading assignments facilitate students’ exploration of what the interview literature can teach us about involved interviewing. Additionally, we critically assess our role as interviewer and what that requires from us. Students participate in evaluating interview scenarios that are designed to explore our assumptions, sharpen our interviewing skills and troubleshoot sticky situations. We investigate a diversity of settings and populations as training ground for leading effective interviews. The final project includes: 1) a plan that demonstrates knowledge of how to design an effective interviewing strategy for unique field settings; 2) instructor’s feedback on students’ personal journals on the role of the interviewer.


Coding & Analyzing Qualitative Data: Using Open-Source Computer Asst. Qualitative Data Analysis

(MAPS 40177). Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, T/Th 12:30 - 1:50 p.m.

This is a graduate-level course in coding and analyzing qualitative data (e.g., interview transcripts, oral histories, focus groups, letters, and diaries, etc). In this hands-on-course students learn how to organize and manage text-based data in preparation for analysis and final report writing of small scale research projects. Students use their own laptop computers to access one of two free, open-source software programs available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. While students with extant interview data can use it for this course, those without existing data will be provided text to code and analyze. This course does not cover commercial CAQDAS, such as AtlasTi, NVivo, The Ethnograph or Hypertext.


Disability In Local and Global Contexts

(MAPS 46460). Michele Friedner, T/Th 11-12:20 p.m.

This is a course about intersections. Disability cuts across age, gender, class, caste, occupation, and religion- or does it? By some measures, people with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world today. In this course, we critically examine both the experiences of people with disabilities in a global context as well as the politics and processes of writing about such experiences. Indeed, questions of representation are perhaps at the core of this course. What role have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and other non-governmental social and human service agencies played in the creation of specific understandings of disability experience? We will ask whether disability is a universal category and we will consider how experiences of health, illness, disability, and debility vary. We will engage in “concept work” by analyzing the relationships between disability and impairment and we will critically evaluate the different conceptual and analytical models employed to think about disability. In doing so, we will engage with broader questions about international development, human rights, the boundaries of the nation, the family and other kinship affiliations, and identity and community formation. How is disability both a productive analytic and a lens for thinking about pressing questions and concerns in today’s world?


Winter Quarter


Survey Research Overview

(MAPS 30900). Martha Van Haitsma, T/Th 11-12:20 p.m.

The course provides an overview of interview-based data collection methods. Each student must develop a research question to guide their research design. Students get an overview of different interview-based data collection methods (focus groups, key-informant interviews, large-N sample surveys), how to sample and design a questionnaire or interview guide for their project, and the nuts and bolts of actual recruitment, receipt control and survey administration. The instructor provides feedback for proposed elements of each student's research plan through weekly assignments. The final paper is a research proposal that outlines a plan for research to address the student's research question.


Ethnographic Methods

(MAPS 31600). Francis McKay, Section 1 Fridays 1:30 - 4:20 p.m. or Section 2 Thursdays 2 - 4:50 p.m.

As ethnography has matured over the past century, it has also extended itself into all corners of academia, becoming a cornerstone for empirical research not just in anthropology, but the humanities, social sciences, professional schools, and the natural sciences as well (for the last, through the increasing number of interdisciplinary research groups forming in universities). What, then, is the appeal of this process of knowledge production? What are the norms of ethnographic research? And what does it take to become a skilled ethnographer? This course will attempt to answer those questions through a mixture of theory and practice. Each week we will discuss foundational anthropological texts on method, complemented with practicums and workshops, during which students will apply the theoretical insights gained from their readings to their own empirical research projects. The course will cover both the practicalities of fieldwork (how to find and get access to a site, how to build rapport with informants and make lasting contacts, how to conduct different kinds of interviews, etc.), as well as the deeper ethical, epistemological and ontological issues raised by ethnography (the problems of representation, the ethics of participant observation, the subject position of the ethnographer). Through that students will learn how to embody a rigorous, theoretically informed, and critically reflective methodological practice and will demonstrate a skilled understanding of this through their own “mini-ethnography,” which will be undertaken on a topic of their choosing.


Data Science

(MAPS 31702). Peishan Fan, T 12:30-3:20 p.m.

This course is a graduate-level methods class that aims to train you to solve real-world statistical problems. The goal of the course is for students to be able to choose an appropriate statistical method to solve a given problem of data analysis and communicate your results clearly and succinctly. There will be an extensive hands-on experience of analysis of real data through practical classes.


Data Analysis for Social Research

(MAPS 31750). Muh-Chung Lin, M/W 4:30-5:50 p.m.

The purpose of this course is help students build a solid foundation of statistical methods for social research and become proficient in using computer software for survey data analysis. Techniques acquired in this class are essential for social scientific research, and in graduate programs in sociology and professional schools such as social work, as well as job market positions which require basic to intermediate quantitative skills. Topics of this course range from the nuts and bolts of probability distributions and statistical inference to multivariate regression and its diagnostics. This course is intensive and moves pretty fast, and students are expected to work hard to have these skills “imprinted” in their minds. Further, students will have the opportunity to conduct a mini-research exercise in the second half of this course.


Involved Interviewing: Strategies for Interviewing Hard to Penetrate Communities and Populations

(MAPS 40164). Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, T/Th 9:30-10:50 a.m.

Imagine that you must interview someone who hails from a background unlike your own; perhaps you need to interview an incarcerated youth, or gather a life history from an ill person. Maybe your task is to conduct fieldwork inside a community that challenges your comfort level. How do we get others to talk to us? How do we get out of our own way and limited training to become fully and comfortably engaged in people and the communities in which they reside?  This in-depth investigation into interviewing begins with an assumption that the researcher as interviewer is an integral part of the research process. We turn a critical eye on the interviewer’s role in getting others to talk and learn strategies that encourage fertile interviews regardless of the situational context. Weekly reading assignments facilitate students’ exploration of what the interview literature can teach us about involved interviewing. Additionally, we critically assess our role as interviewer and what that requires from us. Students participate in evaluating interview scenarios that are designed to explore our assumptions, sharpen our interviewing skills and troubleshoot sticky situations. We investigate a diversity of settings and populations as training ground for leading effective interviews. The final project includes: 1) a plan that demonstrates knowledge of how to design an effective interviewing strategy for unique field settings; 2) instructor’s feedback on students’ personal journals on the role of the interviewer.


Coding & Analyzing Qualitative Data: Using Open-Source Computer Asst. Qualitative Data Analysis

(MAPS 40177). Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, T/Th 12-1:50 p.m.

This is a graduate-level course in coding and analyzing qualitative data (e.g., interview transcripts, oral histories, focus groups, letters, and diaries, etc). In this hands-on-course students learn how to organize and manage text-based data in preparation for analysis and final report writing of small scale research projects. Students use their own laptop computers to access one of two free, open-source software programs available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. While students with extant interview data can use it for this course, those without existing data will be provided text to code and analyze. This course does not cover commercial CAQDAS, such as AtlasTi, NVivo, The Ethnograph or Hypertext.


Liberalism

(MAPS 44200). Chad Cyrenne, T/Th 12:30-1:50 a.m.

The post-war consensus on liberal democratic government can today seem under siege in Europe and the United States. Has liberalism run its course, its once revolutionary promise now dimmed by rising inequality, populist ideology, and perceived threats to national cultures? What newer, more persuasive liberalism might replace the managerial, economistic, instrumental model that we’ve inherited? This seminar explores a variety of answers to that question, arguing that the canonical replies may be stranger, the forgotten alternatives more compelling, and liberal thought far more variegated than liberalism's critics or defenders have recognized. Our eclectic respondents include F.A. Hayek, Judith Shklar, Bernard Williams, Susan Okin, Richard Rorty, and Nancy Rosenblum. We will also explore some surprisingly topical interventions by John Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Dewey, and José Ortega y Gasset.


Disability In Local and Global Contexts

(MAPS 46460). Michele Friedner, T/Th 11-12:20 p.m.

This is a course about intersections. Disability cuts across age, gender, class, caste, occupation, and religion- or does it? By some measures, people with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world today. In this course, we critically examine both the experiences of people with disabilities in a global context as well as the politics and processes of writing about such experiences. Indeed, questions of representation are perhaps at the core of this course. What role have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and other non-governmental social and human service agencies played in the creation of specific understandings of disability experience? We will ask whether disability is a universal category and we will consider how experiences of health, illness, disability, and debility vary. We will engage in “concept work” by analyzing the relationships between disability and impairment and we will critically evaluate the different conceptual and analytical models employed to think about disability. In doing so, we will engage with broader questions about international development, human rights, the boundaries of the nation, the family and other kinship affiliations, and identity and community formation. How is disability both a productive analytic and a lens for thinking about pressing questions and concerns in today’s world?


Anthropology of Olympic Sport

(MAPS 47501). John MacAloon, T/Th 3:30 – 5:50 p.m.

If cultural differences are as powerful as Anthropology has conventionally stressed, how is it possible that over 200 national and innumerable sub-national and transnational cultural formations have found common cause in the modern Olympic Games? This course explores, theoretically and historically, the emergence of the Olympic Games as the liturgy of the world system of nation states and the current dialectic between the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Sports Industry. Extensive reading and an independent research paper will be required. 


Spring Quarter


Race in Contemporary American Society

(MAPS 30233).  Sharon Hicks-Bartlett, Wednesdays 1:30-4:20 p.m.

This survey course in the sociology of race offers a socio-historical investigation of race in American society. We will examine issues of race, ethnic and immigrant settlement in the United States. Also, we shall explore the classic and contemporary literature on race and inter-group dynamics. Our investigative tools will include an analysis of primary and secondary sources, multimedia materials, photographic images, and journaling. While our survey will be broad, we will treat Chicago and its environs as a case study to comprehend the racial, ethnic, and political challenges in the growth and development of a city. 


Gender, Sex & Empire 

(MAPS 33501). Darcy Hughes Heuring, Fridays 1:30-4:20 p.m.

This course examines the complex and contested relationships between gender, sexuality, social organization and power in histories of (primarily British) imperialism and colonialism from the early conquests in the New World through the twentieth century. Employing insights from gender history, postcolonial studies and feminist theory, we look at a broad range of historical case studies to explore themes such as the intersectionality of race, class and gender; the instability of gender ideologies; how power was articulated through the fields of gender and sexuality; the politics of intimacy; and the regulation and ‘improvement’ of colonial bodies. Our goal is to better understand the ways that gender/sexuality and Western imperialism were co-constitutive in specific imperial and colonial contexts.


In Conversation with Language & Culture

(MAPS 34700). Peishan Fan, Tuesdays 2-4:50 p.m.

This course is designed to be an interdisciplinary class that connects research in early cognitive development with research and concerns from the field of language, culture and the self. We will discuss a variety of topics in cognitive development, as well as important questions concerning language and culture. This course will touch upon on research across development to document early biases in human reasoning that might persist through the lifespan, and will emphasize how we can use basic science research to inform educational goals and make positive contributions to addressing issues related to language and culture.  


Anthropology of Israel

(MAPS 35150). Morrie Fred, Tuesdays 3:30 - 6:20 p.m.

This seminar explores the dynamics of Israeli culture and society through a combination of weekly screenings of Israeli fiction and documentary films with readings from ethnographic and other relevant research. Among the (often overlapping) topics to be covered in this examination of the institutional and ideological construction of Israeli identity/ies: the absorption of immigrants; ethnic, class, and religious tensions; the kibbutz; military experience; the Holocaust; evolving attitudes about gender and sexuality; the struggle for minorities’ rights; and Arab-Jewish relations.   In addition to the readings, participants will be expected to view designated films before class related to the topic.  


Aging and the Life Course

(MAPS 36400). Muh-Chung Lin, M/W 4:30-5:50 p.m.

Over the last few decades, life course has become an important perspective for sociologists, demographers, and gerontologists to understand the social processes of aging. This seminar course introduces key concepts of the theories of aging and the life course, as well as empirical findings on the social, demographic, and economic aspects of the demographics of aging. While biology and physiology play crucial role in aging, such as greater longevity and the delayed onset of morbidity, this course focuses on the social processes of aging and the role of social stratification in shaping health and well-being. In addition, this course will discuss the policy implications of aging.