Before this semester, I had never taken a class in the Sociology department at Wash U. I wasn’t even sure what Sociology was exactly, how it was different from Psychology. However, during Spring Registration this past fall, I noticed a class that interested me. It also happened to fulfill my major requirements. The class, Social Movements, was about how movements like the Civil Rights Movement grow large enough to gain political influence. Since I’m interested in how politics works, it seemed like something I’d be interested in. I decided it seemed like a good way to learn more about that subject area while working towards my major.
Professor Cunningham, who teaches the course, is very knowledgable about the subject area. He makes class interesting by playing songs that relate to each day’s discussion as students are filing into the classroom and by creating interactive activities to help the class understand concepts better. One class, we split up into groups where we wrote the factors that contributed to activism in Mississippi in the 60s on large post-its and then had to draw lines connecting factors we believed were related. We’ve also recently had the chance to Skype with the creator of the Harry Potter Alliance.
While I worried at the beginning of the class that I wouldn’t understand the concepts because I didn’t have any background knowledge in sociology, the readings, in-class lectures, and interactive activities made the concepts easy to grasp. I’ve learned so much from the class, from WUNC, worthiness, unity numbers and commitment, displays which movements use to sway audiences to their side to how movements frame events to convince their audience.
If you attend Wash U, I highly recommend taking this class. It provides fascinating insight into how movements form and survive in an engaging and understandable way. If you’ve ever wondered how groups bring about change in their society, this is definitely a class you should take!