American Univesity of Beirut

Undergraduate Courses


​SOAN 101 Freshman Sociology
An introduction to the principles and concepts of sociology to prepare students for majoring in sociology. Students who take this course cannot receive credit for SOAN 201. Every semester.

SOAN 103 Reading Other Cultures
An introduction to the study of other cultures drawing on film, ethnographic case studies, and topical debates. This course presents basic concepts in the comparative study of culture, methods of observing and interpreting other cultures, a sense of how knowledge about other cultures is constructed, and tools to develop a critical awareness of one’s own cultural traditions. Note that this course is classified as a humanities, not a social science, cours​e. Students may take it to fulfill the humanities requirement of their freshman year but not in fulfillment of the freshman social sciences requirement. Students may receive credit for both SOAN 201 and SOAN 203. Every semester. 

SOAN 201 Introduction to Sociology
An introduction to the study of social phenomena. Basic concepts, principles, and methods common to the study of society are employed for the analysis of structure and change in society. This course includes the structure and origin of some basic human institutions such as family, kinship, religion, and language. A student who has received credit for SOAN 101 cannot receive credit for SOAN 201. Students may receive credit for both SOAN 201 and SOAN 203. Every semester.

SOAN 203 Introduction to Anthropology
An introduction to socio-cultural anthropology. Anthropology offers comparative perspectives on the ways people live in the world. In doing so, it challenges some of our commonly held assumptions about what is natural and universal. The course will explore anthropology’s approaches, concepts and methods emphasizing case studies from different settings. Students may receive credit for both SOAN 201 and SOAN 203. Every semester.

SOAN 210 Research Methods
A survey of the basic techniques and designs of social research, including both quantitative and qualitative methods, the relationship between micro and macro approaches to society, and the interplay between theory and research. Alternate years.

SOAN 211 Analysis of Social Data
A survey of basic statistical techniques and other methods of quantitative analysis used in analyzing social data. Students participate in the analysis of research data by applying various analytical techniques using computer packages. They will also interpret research findings and write a research report. Annually. 

SOAN 212 History and Theory in Anthropology
A survey of some of the major theoretical perspectives and critical issues of classical and contemporary anthropological theory. Special focus is placed on the intellectual history of the discipline, an analysis of the contexts in which it developed and tools to recognize and critically evaluate different perspectives on culture and society. Annually.

SOAN 213 Sociological Theory
A survey of some of the major theoretical perspectives and critical issues of classical and contemporary sociological theory. Special focus is placed on four interrelated dimensions: 1) the nature of sociological theory and its intellectual sources, 2) its classic tradition, particularly the legacies of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, 3) an exploration of salient contemporary perspectives, 4) the emergence of new theories and/or directions, such as post-modernity and global sociology. Alternate years.

SOAN 215 Anthropology of America
A critical examination of conceptions of “mainstream” or “dominant” American culture. Using ethnographic case material, the course explores cultural systems and social structures in the contemporary United States, offering an introduction to anthropological approaches to the study of complex societies. Note that this course is classified as a humanities, not a social science course. Alternate years. 

SOAN 216 Hands-On Anthropology
An introduction to the techniques, theories, and debates concerning ethnographic fieldwork. What do anthropologists actually do and what is unique about anthropological research? This course explores the politics and ethics of research, kinds of observation, effective interviewing strategies, note-taking, ways of ‘coding’ or indexing information, data analysis, and approaches to writing. Alternate years.

SOAN 217 Anthropology of the Body
An examination of cultural and historical variations in perceptions and experiences of the human body. The course focuses on the ways the human body is culturally constructed and socially experienced, through case studies of labor, sport, health, illness, sexuality, gender, display, and religious ritual. Note that this course is classified as a humanities, not a social science, course. Annually.

SOAN 218 Anthropology of Medicine and Science​​
This course explores science and medicine from a cross-cultural and historical perspective. Students examine how scientific and medical practices are imbued with and shaped by social meanings and politics. They explore how the institutions of science and medicine construct truth, reality, nature, disease, health, body and mind and how they connect with markets and other institutions. Occasionally.

SOAN 220 City and Society
An introduction to some of the leading conceptual and methodological perspectives for the study of transformations in human settlements. The course explores issues associated with the evolution of cities, their spatial and cultural features, and the social production of informal space and the gendering of space. Changing trends and patterns in Third World urbanization are explored with special focus on the Arab World, global, and post-modern cities. Alternate years.

SOAN 221 Political Anthropology
This course explores the everyday practices of the larger structures that create and perpetuate power. It emphasizes students’ awareness of the state apparatus, non-state political systems and modes of political exclusion that shape the experience of power locally and trans-nationally. It uses prominent schools of thought, among them Marxism, feminism, Foucauldian and postcolonial theories to provoke critical analyses of power in our own lives. Alternate years.

SOAN 222 Family and Kinship
The course examines, from a comparative perspective, different forms of family and kinship organization, their relation to production and systems of exchange. Special focus is placed on processes of initiation and reproduction, and cultural expression of relatedness. Alternate years.

SOAN 223 Social Inequality: Conflict and Consensus
The course explores theories of social inequality. It addresses issues such as class, status, and gender inequalities and points to sources of conflict and consensus. Arguments for and against equality are canvassed. Alternate years.

SOAN 224 Sexuality and Society
The course provides a comparative conceptual framework to explore the changing nature of sexuality in society. Special focus is placed on the social construction of sexual identities, sex and the body, the place of desire and the changing form of romantic love, erotica and pornography, the commodification of intimacy, sexual ethics and sexual prolifics in a globalized world. The course also focuses on the dynamics of male-female relations in Arab society. Alternate years.

SOAN 225 Gender and Culture
An examination of gender holistically and cross-culturally from a social-anthropological perspective. This course examines how meanings of sex variation are constructed and gender is performed by individuals and groups in different societies. It studies the roles of women and men in ritual, in economic and political systems, and in other social arenas. Note that this course is classified as a humanities, not a social science course. Annually.

SOAN 226 Religion and Society
A course that examines the relationship between society and religion, including both formal institutions and informal processes, which deal with the supernatural. This course studies the origin and development of ritual and religious functions for both the individual and society. Alternate years.

SOAN 227 Cultural Boundaries and Identities
Analysis of cultural boundaries and identities. A comparative study of ethnicity and other identity categories and related issues such as cultural hybridity and nationalism with emphasis on the Middle East. Alternate years.

SOAN 228/MCOM 203 Arab Media and Society
An in-depth examination of the political, social, economic, and technological effects of old and new Arab media systems on modern Arab society, with an emphasis on Lebanon and the Arab East region. It focuses on probing the development and current state of print, broadcast and new media systems in the region. Annually

SOAN 229/MCOM 202 Communication Theory
An overview of the ways in which mass communication has been viewed by social scientists and by practitioners, with a focus on the range of issues studied and questions raised, and the schools, approaches, and trends in the field. Annually.

SOAN 232 Conflict Analysis and Resolution
An overview of the field of conflict analysis and resolution. This course covers the history of conflict studies, theories of conflict, and methods of dispute resolution. Annually.

SOAN 236 Semiotic Anthropology: An Introduction to Signs in Society
An introduction to semiotic anthropology as a method for analyzing how language and other sign systems contribute to shape everyday interactions, social institutions and the various ways in which humans inhabit the world. Students will approach works by major authors who sought to theorize the structure of signs and sign systems, and learn to recognize the various modes of anthropological interpretation that these works inspired. Case studies will demonstrate how the toolbox of semiotic anthropology can be brought to bear on a range of topics, including gender and sexuality, the social formation of subjectivity, the emergence of political collectives, religion and modernity, and human-nonhuman interactions. Note that this course is classified as a humanities, not as a social science course. Alternate years.

SOAN 237 Arab Culture and Society
A study of contemporary Arab society: its complexity, diversity, and internal dynamics. This course considers social structures, social groups, cultural patterns, and processes and agents of social and cultural change, and examines current debates on major issues in Arab culture and society. Every semester. Prior to Fall semester 2012-13, listed as SOAN 214. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status or consent of the instructor.

SOAN 238 Special Topics
A course that provides a general overview of an area in the humanistic social sciences that is not normally covered by the department’s offerings. May be repeated for credit. Occasionally.

SOAN 239 Special Topics
A course that provides a general overview of an area in anthropology, communication, or sociology that is not normally covered by the department’s offerings. May be repeated for credit. Occasionally.

SOAN 240 Seminar in Human Rights and Cultural Differences
A seminar that provides students with an introduction to the history, concepts, institutions, and applications of human rights. Although drawn mainly from a Western perspective, applications are canvassed from the Middle East as well. Discussions cover philosophical foundations of human rights law; discrimination, xenophobia, and racism; civil, political, social, and economic rights; women’s rights; children’s rights; rights of minorities and indigenous people; and migrant workers’ rights. Alternate years.

SOAN 241 Seminar in the Sociology of Deviance
The seminar explores the role of leading theoretical perspectives for understanding the changing meanings, nature, and forms of deviance in a cross-cultural context. Primary concern is to identify conceptual, methodological, moral, and political issues in the study of substantive social problems such as violent crime, alcoholism and drug abuse, prostitution, homosexuality, suicide, mental disorders, corporate crime, and other emerging forms of global deviance. Alternate years.

SOAN 242 Seminar in Globalization and Migration
An introduction to a range of issues related to theories of migration with particular emphasis on the peculiarities of contemporary globalization. Theoretical considerations include assumptions and case studies from sociology, economics, political economy, and anthropology. Concepts such as network theory, transnationalism, and the international division of labor are used to illuminate issues such as citizenship and identity, refugees, forced migration, nationalism, and ethnicity as they relate to the migratory experience. Alternate years.

SOAN 243/MCOM 261 Seminar in Media Studies
An undergraduate seminar on the role of communication in society. The content areas may change. May be repeated for credit. Annually.

SOAN 245 Seminar in Transitional Justice
The seminar is an exploration of the strategies and courses of action societies confront as they consider legacies of past human rights abuses or atrocities. It examines the ways in which states and the international community attempt to achieve justice in periods of political transition. Some of the leading theories and applied dimensions will be critically assessed in the light of the operation of international and domestic criminal justice, historical and administrative justice. Annually.

SOAN 250 Seminar in Art and Culture
A cross-cultural exploration of art as an idea, an object, a history, and a way of interacting with the world. How is art a universal category? This course applies anthropological theories to the study of art and art theories to the study of human society. Particular attention is paid to local resources and archives. Note that this course is classified as a humanities, not a social science, course. Occasionally. 

SOAN 251 Seminar in Anthropological Thought
An investigation of the major theories guiding anthropological thinking today, through a historically contextualizing overview. This course introduces students to a range of theoretical propositions concerning such topics as agency, structure, subjectivity, power, and the politics of representation by reading primary texts from landmark figures in sociocultural anthropology. Occasionally.

SOAN 252 Seminar: Cannibals, Liars, Spies: Controversies in the Study of Humans
An investigation of the cases that have shaken the discipline of anthropology and/or sociology. This course uses some exciting issues such as cannibalism, lying, and spying to enter into some of the core issues that concern the study of humans. Occasionally.

SOAN 290 Special Topics Seminar
SOAN faculty or visiting professors and recognized scholars might be invited to offer seminars to explore relevant dimensions of their research in progress. May be repeated for credit. Occasionally.

SOAN 298 Senior Paper
Students will rework and expand a paper based on field research they wrote for a SOAN class and submit it to the department as their senior paper. Parts of the paper will be published on the SOAM department website. Every semester.

SOAN 299 Directed Study
A tutorial course offered to SOAN students with an average of 85 or above in their major at the beginning of their senior year. This tutorial consists of independent research, original creative compositions, or directed reading, and includes the presentation of a report or thesis on the work. Students with averages lower than 85 may be admitted to directed study at the discretion of the department. Occasionally.

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