ISS Courses

Structure of the ISS Curriculum*

The Social Science Core is organized as a sequence:

  • Undergraduates complete one four-credit ISS course at the 200-level and one four-credit ISS course at the 300-level.
  • A 200-level course option must be completed prior to enrolling in a 300-level course option.

ISS Course Options: 200 Level

All 200-level course options serve as a gateway to the study of social and behavioral phenomena and acquaint students with the diversity of social relations. All 200-level options share a common introduction to such basic concepts and epistemological issues as: critical thought about society and human behavior; scientific methodologies; interpersonal and intergroup relations; cultural values and beliefs; and the dynamics of social change.

ISS Course Options: 300 Level

Following completion of a 200-level course option, undergraduates select and complete a 4-credit, 300-level course option. Building on an introduction to the basic concepts and epistemologies of the social sciences offered in the 200-level course options, the 300-level options focus on somewhat more complex conceptual frameworks, bodies of data, and issues of special importance in today's world.


Many award-winning faculty teach ISS courses each year. Students can view these faculty and view their upcoming scheduled ISS courses at


Course Descriptions for Integrative Studies:

ISS 210.  Society and the Individual (D)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Evolution of human behavior with an emphasis on the individual and society. Family and kinship, social organization. Societal types, personality, and the life cycle.

ISS 215.  Social Differentiation and Inequality (D)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Types, causes and consequences of stratification in human societies. Age, class, gender, race and other factors which define social position. Education, occupation, political economy.

ISS 220.  Time, Space and Change in Human Society (D)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Evolutionary, ecological, and spatial theories of adaptation and change. Cultural evolution from prehistoric foraging to the post-industrial age. Continuity and change in the emergence and development of contemporary ways of life.

ISS 225.  Power, Authority, and Exchange (D)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Power, authority, and exchange in organizing societies. Costs and limitations of power. Institutionalization of authority. Systems of exchange: planned vs. market economies.

ISS 230.  Government and the Individual (D)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Critical examination of the role of government in regulating individual behavior. Implications for cultural values and beliefs and modes of behavior. Analysis of consequences of different theories for resolving, or creating problems in public policy.

ISS 235.  Liberal Democracy as a Way of Life (D)
Fall, 4 crs.
Cultural tendencies of liberal democracy that form the characters and constitute the ways of life of individuals in liberal democracies.

ISS 305.  Evaluating Evidence: Becoming a Smart Research Consumer (N)
Fall, 4 crs.
Statistical and methodological principles from the perspective of a critical consumer of social science research results. Recognizing non-empirical assertions, necessary bases for inferring relationships and causal relationships, common threats to research validity, and pertinent biases in human judgment.

ISS 308. Social Science Approaches to Law (D)

Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.

Law theories, practices, methodologies. Social, cultural, institutional, global, environmental, family, or historical context.

ISS 310.  People and Environment (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Contemporary issues related to the interaction of socio-cultural and ecological systems. Global, regional, national and local environmental problems and responses.

ISS 315.  Global Diversity and Interdependence (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Contemporary issues in global political economy. Social forces and competing ideologies in a world context. Global resource distribution and development strategies. National identities and transnational linkages. First and Third World dichotomies.

ISS 318.  Lifespan Development Across Cultures (I)
Fall, 4 crs.
Cultural aspects of biopsychosocial development across the lifespan.  Physical development, health and healing.  Cognition and language socialization.  Views of self, gender, family, and social relationships.  Adult development and intergenerational relationships within the context of culture.  National and international issues related to human development.

ISS 320.  World Urban Systems (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Patterns of urbanization in various areas of the world over time. Linkage within and between urban centers. Economic, political and social/behavioral accommodation and adaptation to urban growth and change.

ISS 325.  War and Revolution (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Social conflict, wars and revolutions. Patterns of individual and collective action. Violence and conflict resolution.

ISS 327.  Risk and Society (D)
Spring, 4 crs.
Assessment, management, and communication of risk. Role of media in amplifying risk. Topics may include gangs, terrorism, health, stock markets, job markets, sports, food, and traffic. Similarities and differences in understanding risk among scientists and the public, and between natural and social scientists.

ISS 328.  The Social Science of Sports (I)
Fall, Spring, 4 crs.
Contemporary issues in sports. Critical examination of the industrial organization, public finance, labor relations, earnings, discrimination, and historical context of sports in society. Analysis of sports gambling, performance enhancement, and strategic decision-making.

ISS 330A.  Africa: Social Science Perspectives (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Comparative study of geography, cultures, politics, and economies of Africa. Diversity and change.

ISS 330B.  Asia: Social Science Perspectives (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Comparative study of geography, cultures, politics, and economies of Asia. Diversity and change.

ISS 330C.  Latin America: Social Science Perspectives (I)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Comparative study of geography, cultures, politics, and economies of Latin America. Diversity and change.

ISS 335. National Diversity and Change: United States (N)
Fall, Spring, Summer, 4 crs.
Racial, ethnic, class, gender, and other forms of diversity in the United States. Systems of dominant-minority relations and forms of prejudice and discrimination. Scope of and responses to group inequalities.

ISS 336.  Canada: Social Science Perspectives (I)
Fall, Spring, 4 crs.
Canadian political, economic, and social institutions. Ethnic and other forms of diversity in Canada. North American national comparisons.



* All ISS course options include material relevant to national diversity and to global and international perspectives. Certain options, however, make global and international perspectives a central concern and are designated with an "I." Other options make issues of national diversity a central concern and are designated with an "N." Options which combine national and global diversity are designated with a "D."

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