Graduate Course Descriptions

This listing of description of courses is meant for illustrative purposes to give a sense of the range of possible courses offered. Actual course offering will vary from year to year. Consult the most current graduate course schedule.

56:163:501 Proseminar in Childhood Studies (6 credits)
This two-semester course provides an overview of paradigms and critical issues in Childhood Studies. Researchers from within the University and around the area present the latest research on children.

56:163:515  Child Growth and Development (3 credits)           
Development in infancy and childhood is both regulated by biological constraints and shaped by cultural practices. This course examines the genetic underpinnings of development, the biological changes which characterize development from birth through early adolescence, and the environmental and social influences which affect, and are affected by, biological changes.

56:163:520 Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Childhood (3 credits)           
This course explores the meaning and significance of childhood in society from a variety of philosophical and religious perspectives. The first half of the course critically examines some of the most influential writings on childhood in history from antiquity to modernity. We ask how these classic texts respond to such questions as the nature of childhood, the aims of child rearing, and responsibilities to and of children. The second half investigates some of the central philosophical and religious issues concerning childhood today. It examines such issues as the changing purposes of families, children’s relations to culture, and children’s rights and political participation.

56:163:521 Children’s Rights (3 credits)           
This course examines children’s rights from a range of theoretical, practical, historical, cultural, and global perspectives. It asks what it means to speak of children and youth as possessing rights, how children’s rights challenge broader human rights, how children’s rights have changed over time, what key struggles are emerging locally and internationally, how children and youth may participate in such struggles, and how children’s rights face issues of cultural difference, marginalization from power, and practical implementation. Students gain a solid grounding in children’s rights theory and an appreciation for the dilemmas, struggles, and possibilities of children’s rights practices.

56:163:522 Youth Identities and Urban Ecology (3 credits)           
This graduate seminar provides a forum for critically examining the identity constructions of youth coming of age in cities, within the United States and across the world. A central aim is to consider comparatively how social, cultural, and physical urban ecologies shape youth development. We will investigate the constitution of youth as student, friend, worker, daughter, and parent, paying particular attention to how identity roles are informed by structures of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. We pay close attention to the roles of institutional contexts such as neighborhood, school, work, family, and peer groups. This course considers the ways in which connections (or lack thereof) across these contexts inform youth identities and development.

56:163:526 Historical Research Methods (3 credits)
This course is an introduction to historical methodology and research methods. We will discuss trends in historiography and theory – especially as they pertain to the history of childhood – but we will always keep the hands-on business of historical research in mind, and put it into practice as much as possible. All of which is to say that we will ask a lot of questions about questions: Why do historians of childhood interrogate some aspects of kids’ lives but leave others relatively untouched? Why are we ourselves inclined to ask certain questions about childhood and sidestep others? How do scholars select and compile sources, and how is it possible to frame questions about those sources before understanding their content?  Unusual for a history course, this seminar is structured around the character of our sources and texts, and not beholden to chronology. As the semester progresses we will move from the most private of sources, such as diaries, letters and memoirs, to ever more public sources, such as advice manuals, organizational records and government documents.

56:163:531 History of Childhood (3 credits)
How were children transformed from unsaved souls to “little savages” to the very embodiment of innocence? When, and why, did children lose their role as contributors to the family economy and instead become quarter-of-a-million dollar investments (according to the US Department of Agriculture)? Why do Americans seem obsessed with protecting their kids from illicit drugs, while at the same time medicating them for a host of ills—from being antsy to being short? Although this course will include material from Colonial times to the present day, it is not so much a survey of American children’s history as an historical investigation of the pivotal turning points in how Americans viewed their children. Topics will include sexuality and free speech, juvenile justice and civic responsibility, as well as kids’ relationship to families, consumer culture and medical professionals.

56:163:551 Children and Childhood in Cross-Cultural Perspective (3 credits)
The richness and diversity of children’s development is best understood by examining socialization norms and child-rearing practices of the world’s various societies.  This course focuses on the rich anthropological literature on children in different cultures, but considers as well cross-cultural psychological and sociological investigations. 

56:163:560 Child Health and Disparities (3 credits)
Accumulating scientific evidence indicates that many health disparities have their origins in childhood and adolescence. This practice-based course will utilize a socio-ecological approach to provide students with a solid understanding of biological, psychosocial, environmental, cultural, political and other determinants of child and adolescent health, enabling  them to conceptualize health promotion programs to reduce related disparities. Students will be expected to apply analytic tools and theoretical models to real-world child and adolescent health issues through community-based, participatory research and practice.

56:163:570 Childhood and Migration (3 credits)
This course will examine the historical, social and political contexts of children’s migration in the modern world. In doing so we will draw on case studies from regions of the world including North and South America, the Mediterranean region, northern Europe and Southern Africa to investigate the lived experience of migrant and refugee children. The course will include examination of historical and theoretical issues in migration, the specific challenges faced by refugee and internally displaced children, and the challenges of developing humanitarian responses to meet children needs.

56:163:575 Postcolonial Childhoods (3 credits)
This course introduces students to postcolonial theory and combines this with ethnographic and historical research on children’s lives in the global South.  Given that a majority of these countries are ex-colonies, the course hopes to highlight the importance of factoring in this colonial past to understand the contemporary, everyday lives of children.  This Course will enable students to further problematize several key debates in Childhood Studies including those on ‘subjectivity’, ‘agency’, ‘rights’, ‘voice’ etc.  It is hoped that this Course will persuade students to read the cultural differences that these children’s lives signify beyond a liberal tolerance of cultural practices and within a more conceptual register.

56:163:580 Literary and Cultural Constructions of Childhood (3 credits)        
This course examines changing concepts of childhood as reflected in a range of literary and cultural texts from a variety of cultures and periods.  We consider the representations of children and childhood throughout literature and culture; the impact of the concept of childhood on intellectual and aesthetic traditions; the role of childhood in imagination and memory as well as in actuality; and the notion of childhood as a discursive category useful for understanding human subjectivity and the human condition.

56:163:581 Girlhood Studies (3 credits)
This course explores key scholarly debates within the field of girlhood studies. Students will engage with multiple disciplinary perspectives to examine historical, cultural, social, and political dynamics shaping the way girlhood is imagined and experienced. The course asks how ‘the girl’ is figured as a site of both promise and peril, inspiring various forms of celebration, regulation, and intervention. Particular attention will be devoted to the relationship between representations of girlhood and the diverse experiences of girls’ lives. We will explore how girls inhabit, rework, and resist notions of girlhood at the intersection of race, class, sexuality and disability.

56:163:600 Childhood and Violence (3 credits)
This course will explore an interdisciplinary range of texts focused on childhood, youth, and various forms of violence that shape young bodies and lives.  Following the work of medical anthropologists, students will approach violence not as an aberration from social order, but rather as a constitutive condition of it.  Social orders are forged and maintained through violence—from spectacular forms of physical brutality to subtle forms of psychological violence.  Sites of violence to be explored include: colonial and post-colonial governments; national school systems; global markets; war and other international conflicts, etc.

56:163:611 Personality and Social Development (3 credits)
Theory and research on personality and social development in childhood and adolescence. Attention is paid to the evolutionary, genetic, social, and cultural shaping of personality and social interactions. 

56:163:615 Using Archival Data to Study Children (3 credits)
This course will provide students with the experiences necessary to analyze data from publicly available data sets.  Students will obtain publicly available data sets and analyze them using SAS and SPSS in order to test hypotheses about development and to assess the effectiveness of interventions. 

56:163:630 Urban Education (3 credits)
This seminar will investigate urban schools as sites of struggle. Using sociocultural and historical frameworks, we explore key debates in defining the purposes and practices of education in U.S. cities. This course examines the relationship between schools and their urban environments, looking at how schools perpetuate or contest inequalities of opportunity, segregation, and economic disparities. The course will also examine contemporary reform movements and the perspectives of children and youth, exploring new directions for reimagining and recreating urban schools.

56:163:635 Visual and Material Cultures of Childhood (3 credits)
This seminar is both about what children see and manipulate and how they are seen (and perhaps manipulated) by adult culture. The seminar asks each student to look carefully and critically at representations of children and of children’s things and to question how these images and things are constructed and what they might mean (their ideological underpinnings). By putting image and ideology, history and context together, we aim to attain a deeper understanding of children and childhoods.

56:163:640 Kids’ Media Cultures (3 credits)
This course will examine relationships between children, childhood, and media from historical, cultural, social, political, and psychological perspectives.  Radio, film, and television along with digital media and new technologies will be emphasized, as well as certain types of print media. Coursework focuses on the ways in which media have and continue to be understood both as threatening to childhood and as liberating/empowering for children. Students are expected to bring their own projects and issues to bear on the subject matter.

56:163:642 Children and Cinema (3 credits)
This seminar will explore the figure of the child in contemporary international cinema. Through screenings, readings, and discussion, seminar participants will develop the analytical skills to discuss cinematic form, style, and language, as well as gain a basic understanding of the networks of cultural production and distribution associated with international film festivals. We will emphasize the cultural, political, and historical significance of children as cinematic subjects with a secondary interest in children as audiences and producers. Examples will be drawn from across genres and styles (such as live-action, animation, documentary, short, and feature-length).

56:163:654 Growing Up In Africa (3 credits)
This course examines the social, historical, and political contexts of childhood in Africa through ethnographies, novels, and historical work.  We will begin with classic work on child socialization, examining how children learn and come to assume certain positions through interaction with peers and adults in work, rituals, and play.  We will explore children’s roles and status within societies in which elders are valued and powerful, and how these roles changed with colonialism through literacy, missionization, and migration to mines, plantations, and cities.  Finally, we will look at young people’s myriad experiences in Africa today—as soldiers, AIDS orphans, critics of the state, consumers of modernity, and powerful but hated witches—within the context of structural adjustment and globalization.

56:163:661 Quantitative Methods (3 credits)
The course is designed to provide graduate students with a solid understanding of quantitative research and statistics through the lens of Childhood Studies. The primary goal of the course is to provide a solid understanding of the logic of social science research. The first half of the semester concentrates on defining research problems, research design (including sampling, measurement, and causal inference), and assessing research quality. The second half of the semester focuses on descriptive and inferential statistics, evaluation of survey measures, the language of data analysis, and interpretation of survey results.

56:163:662 Adolescent Health (3 credits)
Examines critical health issues in adolescence, focusing on sexual behavior, substance and alcohol use, physical activity, and violence. The course will draw on behavior change theoretical perspectives, public health, and intervention science to explore approaches to improving adolescent health. Careful consideration will also be given to individual, societal, and structural predictors of risk behavior, as well as protective factors like youth resilience.

56:163:671 Youth and Sports (3 credits)
The social organization of athletics and sports for children and youth. Youth and family involvement in organized and informal athletic and sports activities. Social roles including juvenile and adult athletes, fans, coaches, parents, and consumers of sports equipment and media. The relationship of sports to social patterns such as ideologies, values, laws, cultural norms, and methods of social control. Ethnic, racial, and gender differences in sports activities.

56:163:690 Issues in Social Policy: Children and Families (3 credits)
Public policy has profound influences on children in the United States and elsewhere. This course focuses on social policy in the United States, and how policy shapes children’s education, nutrition, and environments. Policy in the United States is compared to that of other countries in order to better understand the influence of policy on the course of development.

56:163:691 Interpretive Research Methods (3 credits)
This course delves into the philosophical, theoretical and practical aspects of what many call “qualitative” research methods. A number of specific methods will be examined, with particular emphasis on researching the lives and experiences of children.

56:163:692 Children’s Geographies (3 credits)
What is the space of childhood? Where (and how) are children ‘out of place’? What do children’s everyday movements and place-based identities reveal about contemporary dynamics of culture, capitalism, and globalization? This course engages with the field of children’s geographies to examine childhood as a social and spatial construct. We will explore key theoretical and methodological debates surrounding the study of space, place, and movement in children’s lives. Spanning multiple spatial scales (e.g., the body, city, nation) and processes (e.g., surveillance, representation, migration), we will examine how geographical insights can shed new light on key debates in childhood studies. Particular attention will be paid to ways in which children’s geographies are shaped by relations of power (e.g., age, race, class).

56:163:694 Play and Play Theory (3 credits)
This seminar examines the conceptual, social, cultural and historical contours of play as approached by scholars in various fields of inquiry including, among others, psychology, history, geography, anthropology and sociology. Emphasis is placed on critically examining how thinkers conceptualize the role and meaning of play in childhood, learning, evolution and development with an eye toward unpacking guiding assumptions underpinning contentions regarding the nature and value of play. Humor, games, sport, ritual and festival are among the variety of play forms to be examined. Students are expected to bring their own problems and projects to the class and engage in their own research in conversation with course materials and class discussion.

56:163:695 Theories of Childhood Studies (3 credits)
The development of Childhood Studies has been influenced by a range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. In this seminar we will explore in depth salient theoretical works emerging from diverse disciplines including philosophy, social anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics and development studies. It will include examining the work of mid to late 20th and 21st century authors whose wide theoretical perspectives have had a strong and pervasive influence on the field both in the industrialized and “developing” worlds. Key authors to be studied include Michel Foucault, Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Walter Benjamin, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Aihwa Ong, Pierre Bourdieu, Richard Sennett and Judith Butler. This course will include detailed examination and discussion of selected texts and of their impact on the field.

56:163:700 Doctoral Dissertation (12 credits)
Each student must complete an original dissertation research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor.

56:163:800 Matriculation Continued (0 credits)
Continuous registration may be accomplished by enrolling for at least three credits in standard course offerings, including research courses, or by enrolling in this course for 0 credits. Students actively engaged in study toward their degree who are using university facilities and faculty time are expected to enroll for the appropriate credits.

TBD Children and Media (3 credits)
This course examines relationships between children, childhood and media from historical, cultural, social, political and psychological perspectives. Radio, film and television along with digital media and new technologies will be examined, as will certain types of print media. Coursework focuses on the ways in which media have and continue to be understood both as threatening to childhood and as liberating/empowering for children.  The course will also explore extensions of kids’ media culture into everyday life (e.g., clothing, food, education) and the use of media by children. Students will be expected to conduct research on a topic relevant to course materials.

Additional Graduate Classes Offered by Other Departments

Focused coursework in childhood studies may be taken from several different disciplines. In consultation with your advisor classes may be selected from Psychology, Public Policy, Criminal Justice, English, Liberal Studies and History. Visit departmental sites for current course offerings.