SOC3053 Cultural



Unit 1: Introduction

Unit 2: Ecological-Evolutionary Theory

Unit 3: Social Evolution, Part 1

Unit 4: Social Evolution, Part 2

Unit 5: Hunting & Gathering Societies

Unit 6: Horticultural Societies

Unit 7: Agrarian Societies

Unit 8: Evolutionary Byways

Unit 9: Industrial Revolution

Unit 10: Technology & Economy

Unit 11: Government & Ideologies

Unit 12: Stratification

Unit 13: Primary Groups

Unit 14: Conclusions



This course is now on Rogers State University e-campus. The syllabus is presented here for potential students to get a feel for what the course entails.

Contact Information:
Dr. Frank Elwell 
Office Hours: Daily 8:00 to 11:00 
Office: 202-B Prep Hall 
Phone: 918.343.7851

Required Texts: 
Nolan, Patrick, & Gerhard Lenski, Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology.

Diamond, Jared.  1998.  Guns, Germs, and Steel.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Glossary of Social Sciences

Important Notice: E-mail communications with students will only be through the RSU student e-mail system. Students are responsible for checking their RSU student accounts on a regular basis.

Catalog Description: An examination of how humans have used the various aspects of the social structure to adapt to the physical environment. Current ecological theories will be utilized to examine social evolution from hunting and gathering to industrial societies. Prerequisites: Nine hours of social science credit.

This course is a requirement in the Environmental Studies Option of the BSSS, and an elective in the Sociology Option as well as in a Sociology Minor. The course can also be used as "Social Science Elective Credit" in any of the BSSS Options, the BALA Liberal Arts Electives Option taken in lieu of a minor, or for straight elective credit in any program. The course is also recommended for anyone interested in ecology or sociocultural evolution.

Purpose: This course centers on the process of sociocultural evolution. Guided by macro-level social theory we will use comparative historical analysis to examine the relations of sociocultural systems to their environment; the relations of the various parts of a society to one another; and the stability and evolution of sociocultural systems through time.

Course Objectives:

Course Goals

Program Goals Supported in B.S. in Social Science

How Evaluated

Acquisition of the macro-sociological approach in relating the various parts of the sociocultural system to one another and to the whole.

To develop a level of competence in the core disciplines of the social sciences to allow for further inquiry and study.

Take-home Exams, Class Discussions.

An appreciation and ability to apply ecological-evolutionary theory in understanding and explaining sociocultural system stability and change.

To prepare students to function successfully in a society that is heading toward globalization and becoming more culturally diverse

Take-home Exams, Class Discussions.

An understanding of the historical/comparative method as the basis of sociological/anthropological science.

To equip students with the academic skills necessary to successfully address increasingly complex, multidisciplinary problems in the social sciences.

Take-home Exams, Class Discussions.

Demonstrate the ability for inductive and deductive reasoning; that is reasoning from the specific to a general perspective as well as from a general perspective to a specific case.

To equip students with the academic skills necessary to successfully address increasingly complex, multidisciplinary problems in the social sciences.

Take-home Exams, Class Discussions.

RSU Writing Center is in Baird Hall 206. There, you may access free writing help with any paper at any point of time while you are a student at RSU. Call 918.343.7838 to set up an appointment. The Writing Consultants are friendly and professional and can help you with any writing issue.

The SLA Tutoring Center is in Prep Hall 105. There you may arrange for free tutoring help with any class offered by the School of Liberal Arts (other schools have their own centers). Call 918.343.7572 to set up an appointment.

Americans with Disabilities Act: Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services. Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended. Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs. Students needing more information about Student Disability Services should contact Kendra Cagle, Coordinator of Student Disability Services at Rogers State University, 1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017 or 918-343-6828.

Work Required & Grading: Students should have the weekly units (see the column on the left) completed each Tuesday by class time. Completion of the unit means you have done all required reading and fully answered and turned in the essay questions.

Weekly Quizzes: Consistent with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (look it up!), I believe that in order to truly master a discipline you must first master its vocabulary. Accordingly, you will learn some of the vocabulary of the social sciences in this class. Each week you will have a vocabulary quiz consisting of 10 fill-in-the-blanks giving you a definition as it appears in the Glossary of the unit we are covering. You are to supply the term. I expect to have 12 such quizzes over the course of the semester, I will drop the two lowest grades. These quizzes will be equal to one exam grade! Do well and it will go a long way toward passing this class.

This course is somewhat demanding and requires higher order skills of synthesis, critical thinking, and integration. The vocabulary words are measuring the far more basic skill of memorization. While most undergraduates are good at it (and thus it boosts many grades), there are a few in every class who struggle with it (I was never very good at it either). For students like us it takes discipline, repetition, and actual use to finally sink in. I suggest handwritten flash cards to people who are in our predicament. It is also useful to work as many words as you can into your essays. In addition to boosting grades mastering the vocabulary is really the first step in mastering a subject area—it can only help you in the rest of the course (and in life itself).

Take-home exams: You are to keep up on the required reading and take-home exams before they are discussed in class. There are essay questions associated with each week of the course. Your answers are to be submitted 9:30 Tuesday mornings through The weekly units also contain links to required and recommended readings, vocabulary to master for the week, links to websites, and other material useful in mastering the course. 

You are responsible for learning how to submit your take-home essays  through It is only through turnitin that you can get credit for your work. Here is a link to training videos for students: Student Training Videos. You should number and state first each essay and short answer question in the order it is stated in the Week's Unit. You will lose points for incomplete answers, shoddy thinking and writing, late work (these are to be turned in before 9:30 on Tuesday whether you attend class or not!), and failure to adequately address the questions. It is very important that you use your own words and voice in answering these questions. It is through thoughtfully addressing these questions that higher order thinking skills--integration, synthesis, and evaluation--are learned. Writing is not simply telling me what you know, it is a reflection of the process of learning itself; through your interaction with the written word you sharpen and refine your thinking, you discover truths that were obscure through mere reading. Here is a link to how to format your study guides: Example Student Study Guide.

The essay questions on each theorist are questions that are designed to do the following: 1) Solicit the main points of the readings and presentations, thereby helping you master the course material; 2) Focus your attention on what is valuable and relevant in the perspectives of each of the theorists; 3) Draw comparisons to other readings; 4) Elicit your evaluations of the material; and 5) Give you opportunity to improve your course grade.

All exams and written assignments are graded in accordance with the standards explained on the attached Grading Rubric.

Here is how they will be graded:

·   Quality(20points) Is the answer accurate and evidenced based?

·   Development (20 points) Is the answer fully developed, with all implications fully drawn?

·   Complete (20 points) Are all questions answered fully and completely?

·   Originality (20 points) Are the answers in your own words and voice?

·   On Time (10 points) Is the test turned in by 9:30 on Tuesday morning?

·   Your score on each weekly take home exam will be the total number of points from above divided by 90.

Student Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): I know that this seems like a significant amount of work. This is not an easy class. But if you are of average intelligence, have some interest in sociology, and have a good work ethic ("Life is easier when you work hard") you will do fine. So that this is clearly understood I ask each of your to print, sign, and turn in the Student MOU.

Other Useful Information:

In answering an essay question for this class, integrate material from Lenski, Diamond, instructor presentations, other readings, class presentations, discussions, and other courses as much as possible. In answering essay questions your goal is to demonstrate to me that you have read, listened to, dealt with, understood, and integrated the material into your own thinking; use quotes sparingly. For further information on writing essays please see the following:
Writing in Response to an Essay Question.  

For help in completing your Study Guides I highly recommend that you visit the RSU Writing Center in Baird Hall 206.

The essay and short answer questions in the Study Guides are questions that are designed to do the following:

    1. Solicit the main points of the readings and presentations, thereby helping you master the course material;
    2. Draw comparisons to other readings;
    3. Elicit your evaluations of the material;
    4. Give you opportunity to improve your course grade.

The questions will help you prepare for the examinations. Note: all exam questions will be drawn from the Study Guides. You will do well to answer the questions fully and completely. The exams will therefore be a cross between a take-home and an in class exam. Your exams will consist of a selection of vocabulary words, essay questions, as well as short answer questions from each of the Study Guides in the unit. To do well students must prepare their answers to all the Study Guide questions beforehand and be prepared to answer a sample of these questions for their exam. Do not be complacent about preparing for the exams. The better grades will go to those who fully prepare. Each of your three exams will also contain 10 to 20 fill-in-the-blanks from the glossary. These ten to twenty points will be a significant part of your exam grade; again, it will be worth your time to master these vocabulary words for both the exams and for your in-class quizzes during the course of the semester.

 Final grades will be based on the percentage of points earned:

    • 92 -   100% =A
    • 82 -    91% = B
    • 70 -    81% = C
    • 60 -    69% = D
    • below 60% = F

Other Useful Information

Attendance: Both physical and mental attendance should be regular. Traditional lecture material is presented off of this web site. Class time will be spent in discussion, occasional presentations, and perhaps the viewing of films. To take full advantage of this class (and to get a passing grade) you should attend all scheduled class meetings. Inappropriate classroom behavior (sleeping, talking, and other disruptive behavior) will be cause for dismissal from the classroom. This is a blended course. It is important that you attend both physically and mentally. Studying the texts and the lecture/ presentations are key. Inappropriate classroom behavior will cause you to be dismissed from the class. 

Academic Integrity: By signing your name to a test or paper you are indicating that the work is yours and yours alone. Any academic cheating will result in failure of the course. "Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own, including: direct quotation without both attribution and indication that the material is being directly quoted, e.g. quotation marks; paraphrase without attribution; paraphrase with or without attribution where the wording of the original remains substantially intact and is represented as the author’s own; expression in one’s own words, but without attribution, of ideas, arguments, lines of reasoning, facts, processes, or other products of the intellect where such material is learned from the work of another and is not part of the general fund of common knowledge" (Office of Academic Affairs, Rogers State University). One of the social problems that appears to be on the rise in American society is academic dishonesty. Don't do it!

Classroom Organization: Much of the class will be given over to informed discussion. You should begin your reading immediately, in the order stated below. In addition, you should go through the "Introduction" and the "World Problems" class presentations by the second meeting. I will keep you informed in class (or more likely through e-mail) of the specific due dates of your reading assignments. While the occasional articles I will send through e-mail are usually optional, reading them will help you master class material. Class discussion will often center on the required readings and the instructor presentations. It is therefore imperative that all assigned reading be done in a timely fashion. 

A Final Point: You are encouraged to ask questions on the readings either in class or through e-mail. It is not expected that you will always agree with the perspectives of the instructor or the authors of other texts. As have all human beings we have been influenced by the values of our society as well as our roles in various social structures. However, it is the duty of the social scientist to acknowledge these influences and attempt to minimize their effects upon social analysis. Should the resulting analyses be counter to your perceptions, challenge them on the basis of empirical fact, logic, and reason--not ideology, prejudice, wishful thinking, or "politically correct" assertions. The goal of this course is for you to develop your own critical thought processes and world view, not for you to blindly accept any one perspective. 

Updated Continuously 
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