November 14, 2014, BY Heather Johns


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Welcome to "Cool Classes," a regular feature that highlights the interesting, intriguing and unexpected in Bucknell University's course catalog.

What class? SOCI 202: Social Inequality

Who teaches it? Professor Carmen Henne-Ochoa, sociology

"My Social Inequality course is beyond doom and gloom — and students find it especially relevant to their own lives. We explore Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus as a way to delve deep into the attitudes, beliefs and experiences of those inhabiting our social world. In turn, these influence and shape how we ourselves make sense of the wider social world around us.

"Throughout the semester, we deconstruct the social functions of schools, education, the capitalist system, family and religion — as well as statuses such as race, class, sex, gender, and physical ability — to consider how these intersect with students' own current position in society, their aspirations, expectations and life chances.

"Way cool is the habitus exhibit! My students' final projects are not papers that no one else besides me will ever read, but creative and personal pieces which they share with the entire class and with the wider Bucknell community through sponsored exhibits. Students say this is one of the most rewarding aspects of my course. This project allows them to creatively (in 3-D or digital format) tell a personal story about their learning process and self-reflection relating to issues of inequality.

"One goal of the habitus project is to move away from the traditional teaching/learning paradigm that asks students to learn and process information following a rational, sequential, orderly format (where we insist that there must be a coherent beginning, middle and end, and where there must be smooth transitions).

"I challenge my students to process and make sense of their inherently messy social world and of social inequalities emotively and experientially. It's an opportunity for them to explore non-rational and non-positivist ways of making sense of what is happening to and around them."

Learn more about the Department of Sociology & Anthropology.