Gayle Sulik has taught an array of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in addition to conducting workshops in her area of expertise.
Sociology of Health and Illness
Taking a critical approach to health and illness, this course offers an introduction to the field of Medical Sociology. It explores the social sources and distribution of illness in the United States and in the developing nations, the social meanings and experience of illness, the profession of medicine, the social construction of medical knowledge, health care systems and settings, medical technologies, and bioethics.
This course applies a sociological perspective to the experience and social distribution of health and illness. We analyze the impact of healthcare institutions, the implications of key social transformations, and the everyday interactions that influence both private and public health. Major topics include: the social patterning of health; the experience of illness; and health knowledge, practice, and organization. The course materials serve several purposes: 1) to allow students to conceptualize health and illness issues using medical sociological concepts and theories; 2) to reveal how broader social issues affect the subjective experiences of health/illness; 3) to develop analytical frameworks for analyzing select health/illness issues; and 4) to practice oral and written communication skills pursuant to the discipline of sociology.
Methods in Health Research
This course examines a range of research methods available for researching health and illness, important topical issues in health research, and analytical frameworks for analyzing select health/illness issues. It focuses on the key principles underlying health research, competing paradigms and conceptualizations, quantitative and qualitative methods, health policy implications, and contemporary issues such as: approaches to ethics review; benefits and limitations of mixed methods and multidisciplinary research; challenges in researching health within orthodox medicine and in complementary and alternative medicine; ethnicity as a key variable in explaining health inequalities; involving medical consumers in health research; the significance of comparative perspectives; and challenges to writing up research findings.
Sociology of Breast Cancer
Centering on breast cancer as a case study, this course offers an analysis of cultural, social, and social-psychological factors affecting health status and American women’s responses to this illness. Placing breast cancer within an historical context, we examine the social transformation of medicine and the history of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in the United States. We discuss women, the body, and the illness experience. We address the politics of breast cancer (i.e., including policies and controversies, economics, pharmaceutical companies, health care reform, the role of women in social change, and representations of survivorship). Course material includes scholarly work on the sociology of health and illness, publications from advocacy groups, survivors’ personal accounts, and representations of breast cancer in the media. Students prepare a series of educational pamphlets to be used for breast cancer awareness and community outreach.
Sociology of the Body
This course explores theoretical approaches to the body and embodiment. Topics include: (1) Social theory and history of the body, e.g., the mind/body dualism, medical and scientific discourse, and phenomenological approaches, (2) The body and the Self, including woman as body, the male body, sexualities, alter/ed bodies, and the search for identity through the body; (3) The body in society, e.g., bodies as consumer culture, politics of the body, regulation of the body, and bodies in social space; and (4) Performing the body (i.e., exploring how the body becomes a site for asserting, imposing, performing, challenging and destabilizing categories of gender, race/ethnicity and sexuality). Students learn to use their own embodied experiences as sources for conceptualization and applied deconstruction.
Women, Science & Society
This course examines the perspectives of discerning scientists and historians who understand science as a fully social process, culturally and ideologically situated. That is, modern science is constructed through logic and innovation as well as mission-driven and political motivations, local and national efforts to reconstruct and revitalize science education, social movements concerned about the responsibility of science for sustaining the public good, and scientists and scholars seeking to uphold the integrity of the scientific enterprise. In addition, science has gender and race origins that shape the content, structure, and practice of the scientific enterprise.
Qualitative Research Methods
This seminar will introduce graduate students to various methods of qualitative inquiry such as participant observation, interviewing, and focus groups via relevant readings and hands on training. We consider all phases of qualitative inquiry from research design to data collection, analysis, and write-up. Our primary focus will be on skill development and theoretical meaning-making. In addition, students will have access to the Center for Qualitative Research for workshops and tutorials related to computer-based data collection and analysis techniques.
This course examines dilemmas of social inquiry. On what basis do social scientists draw conclusions? What are the ethics of social research? How do sociologists use methods of observation, interviewing, narrative analysis, sampling, focus groups, and surveys to obtain and analyze data? Students will learn to critically evaluate research studies and will have practical experience learning specific data collection and analytical methods, and will learn how to develop a research proposal.
Social Statistics (co-taught)
This course is a general introduction to statistics, with a special emphasis on the descriptive and inferential statistics used in sociology. Objectives are to teach students how to: 1) do quantitative analysis, 2) think about the relationship between theory and data, 3) consider which types of data are available to social scientists, and 4) learn which methods are used to collect and analyze specific types of data. To this end, students learn techniques of summarizing sample data, examining relationships among variables, generalizing from samples to populations, and testing statistical hypotheses. As the co-teacher for this course, I taught descriptive statistics, sampling distribution, and hypothesis testing.
This course provides an introduction to the methods of social research. In addition to teaching sociological terms and concepts, the course objectives are to: 1) demonstrate the scientific nature of the social inquiry, 2) introduce students to the necessary skills for conducting research projects and communicating research results, and 3) enable students to think critically about social research. Major topics include: the logic of scientific inquiry, understanding empirical studies, designing and conceptualizing research studies, measurement and analysis, and ethical issues involved in sociological research. Students complete progressive assignments that culminate in a research proposal.
Mass Media & Society
This course explores media as a social force, institution, and industry. First, we examine what it means to be “mediated” including how media affects culture, choices, and individual responses to media-filtered lives. Second, we consider organization and professional socialization, the economics of the media industry, and the media’s political and global influence. Third, we examine how media represent the social world (i.e., the role of ideology, and how meanings are produced, stereotypes maintained, and inequalities preserved). We reflect on the roles, responsibilities, and interpretive potential of media producers and consumers. Finally, we investigate the nature and consequences of media technology. We end the course with a series of panel presentations in which students present their independent semester projects.
Drawing on classical and contemporary social and cultural theory, this course explores the importance of culture as a dimension of the social world in which meaning itself is structured and socially produced both individually and collectively. We establish the importance of culture as a vital aspect of the social world; explore the constructed nature of meaning, moral universals, and collective sentiment (including collective memory and collective identity); and examine the interplay of culture and society in terms of resistance and social change.
Sociology of Gender
The primary objective of the course is to introduce the student to the sociology of gender; including key theoretical perspectives, contemporary exemplars, socio-historical context, cross-cultural comparisons, and social change. A secondary objective is to promote a critical inquiry of gender as it is embedded within society, culture, institutions, and lived experience. The course addresses five major themes: 1) the social construction of gender; 2) the centrality of gender as a basis for social organization; 3) the intersections of gender, race, class, sexuality, and nation as sources of social inequality; and 4) social policy and social movements.
Sex, Gender, & Society
Sexuality is a social phenomenon, encompassing a broad range of emotions, actions, identities and communities. We use sexualities to define ourselves and the world we live in, to draw boundaries between “types” of people, and to mark borders between “wrong” and “right.” This course explores the social aspects of sexuality and considers how sexual experiences are shaped by, and interpreted through, historically specific social contexts. The course analyzes sex roles in various institutional settings, and examines how gender coupled with race and class stratifies American society. Topics include: the effect of social, cultural and scientific change on traditional notions of male and female; the social construction of masculine and feminine; the interaction of sexual attitudes, identities, politics, practices, and social policy.
This courses analyzes white identity in the United States from a sociological perspective. We examine the historical process by which white racial identity was created, its relation to American culture and social privilege, the ideological tensions of capitalism, and the processes of social change. The objectives are: a) to expose students to theory and literature in the emerging area of whiteness studies while remaining grounded in a sociological perspective, b) to foster students’ ability to position themselves on the multiple axes of race, gender and class, and c) to help students to gain an understanding of the role they play in maintaining and resisting social inequality.
This course is intended as an overview of sociology with emphases on major sociological theories, concepts, methods, and areas of substantive concern. The readings, movies, assignments, and activities will serve several purposes: 1) to allow students to practice sociological thinking; 2) to reveal how broader issues affect subjective experiences; 3) to make connections between personal experiences and the institutions that shape them; 4) to make visible the impact of social location (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation, class, and nation). Students are expected to become more aware of the often hidden aspects of social life, including the social institutions and structures through which they live their lives.
Introduction to Sociology [Classical Theory Perspective]
An introduction to the concepts of sociology rooted in the ideas and thinkers of the classical tradition (Durkheim, Marx, Weber), exploring their historical meaning and contemporary relevance. Using a sociological imagination, this course explores the nature of culture and of human society, personality development, groups and group structure, social institutions, and processes of social change.
This course examines how social problems are defined, their multiple causes and effects, how they are maintained within structures of power, and the role of education and social consciousness. The course focuses on five themes: 1) the structural sources of social problems, 2) the role of the powerful nations in global social problems, 3) the centrality of gender, race, and class as sources of inequality, 4) the critical examination of society, and 5) proposed solutions to social problems. Within this framework, we survey a diverse set of social issues.