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Thomas Burr
Thomas Burr
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Sociology 220: Global Social Change


In this class you will learn how societies are structured and how they operate. I teach this class as a long-term world history, because the first societies were small and relatively simple, composed of maybe 50 people. Examining how societies became larger and more complex over thousands of years helps students understand societies today, which consist of millions of people, and which exist within a global social system. Since I teach it in one semester, I emphasize fundamental social patterns instead of specific historical events.

The two halves of the course are preindustrial societies and societies today. Within this framework, I address the three major changes in human societies: 1. the Agricultural Revolution beginning around ten thousand years ago, 2. the rise of the state around five thousand years ago, and 3. industrialized globalization, starting less than five hundred years ago and continuing today.

This class is very interdisciplinary, covering material from sociology, anthropology, economics, history, and international relations. Students from these disciplines will find this class especially useful, but all students are welcome, because this class fulfills two undergraduate requirements at Illinois State University: 1. The Global Studies graduation requirement, and 2. a social science general education requirement.