I have been revising my Theoretical Perspectives on the Family syllabus (see the final product here). [Check out this post for tips on how to design your own interdisciplinary graduate seminars] In a given week, I only want to assign about four readings. But, given that I have to cover theory and substantive topics each week, four readings is always too few. Further, I don’t want the students only reading work from psychology, but also from sociology and economics, and even from communication, public health, anthropology, and law when appropriate. My courses therefore end up being a lot of work for students, and a lot of work for me in design.
Two principles that informed my design:
First, I spoke with a student last year who was talking with me about race discrimination and overall racial ignorance in her graduate program. One example she gave me was that in her classes, diversity was either ignored all together or relegated to a specific week in the semester. This was insulting as race and diversity issues touch every issue, every week. With this in mind, I tried to incorporate readings about marginalized families every week.
Second, all readings must be accessible online. I will only assign a reading that is not online if I have access to a pdf that I can post to our course management system. I do not want to contribute to grad student debt if at all possible.
Here is a list of theories and topics that I cover each week, and the readings I chose to represent them.
Introduction to the course. What is a fact? Historical changes and the American family. An introduction to theory
Cherlin, A. (2009). Why it’s hard to know when a fact is a fact.