University of Notre Dame

Contemporary Educational Issues

Course Number: SOC 13181-1
Instructor: Mark Berends

The major goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the interaction among society, schools, and teachers—with a particular focus on educational opportunity. The content of the course is grounded in current controversies in the field of education as presented through research and media. Throughout the semester, students will examine cases that address challenges of equity in education. Students’ experiences in the course will link academic scholarship with field practice. There will be several debates during the semester in which students participate and then write a position paper. Each of the debates will begin with a formal presentation of a case supported by class readings, video, debate, and lecture. Students will be required to prepare reflective writings, engage in class discussions, and thoughtfully defend their opinions.

Other desired goals of this course include fostering students’ (1) awareness of the complexity of learning and schooling; (2) recognition of the broad array of opportunities to participate in the field of education; and (3) understanding the interconnections among society, schools, families, teachers, students, curriculum, instruction, and educational policies.