Undergraduate Course Descriptions

The courses listed below represent the full slate of Childhood Studies courses. Not all are scheduled every semester. Also see the official undergraduate catalog.

Learn more about what is required for a CS major.

163:101 Introduction to Childhood Studies (3 credits)
This course examines various ways that childhood has been discussed, researched and understood as a social phenomenon and social institution. Course materials are selected to illustrate how various notions of childhood and “the child” impact cultural understandings regarding the “nature” of children. Historical as well as contemporary research and perspectives are used to address such issues as changing definitions of childhood, changing age norms, the idea of children as social actors, race, gender and social class aspects of children’s experiences, children’s rights and child labor and work in a global context.

50:163:240 Childhood in Global Cinema (3 credits)
This class will explore representations of children in international cinema. The course will introduce and enable the practice of analytical skills necessary to discuss cinematic form and style. Through screenings, readings, discussion, and coursework–including presentations and writing–students will consider how films produced around the world represent multiple constructions of childhood (with respect to children’s experiences, challenges, and opportunities in a range of global contexts).

50:163:245 Childhoods and Capitalism (3 credits)
This course examines a range of issues that help highlight how capitalism affects and shapes childhoods across the world. Some of these issues include the commodification of childhoods, child labor, racial effects of capitalism, gender dynamics, environmental racism, and care-work. The idea of capitalism explored in this course goes beyond economic exchanges and processes and invites examination of its cultural and political dimensions as well. A central goal is to engage students in critical understandings of the everyday effects of capitalism on children’s lives through unpacking its influence across local, global and transnational childhoods and contexts.

163:250 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.

163:255 Childhood and Pediatric Medicine (3 credits)
This course will explore the relationship between childhood and pediatric medicine. Drawing upon insight and materials from science and technology studies, medical anthropology, and childhood studies, the course will challenge students to examine the creation of pediatric standards for bringing about optimal child health and development. Students also will be encouraged to focus critically on claims about the role of various caregivers in raising, and perhaps producing conceptions of, “healthy” children. This invites students to consider the many ways, both positive and negative, in which young people and their loved ones are affected by pediatric knowledge and practices.

163:260 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.

163:265 Girlhood Studies (3 credits)
This course explores key debates within the field of girlhood studies by interrogating the notion of ‘girlhood’ and its accompanying politics. 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’ and ‘girlhood’ are figured as sites of both promise and peril, inspiring various forms of celebration, regulation, and intervention. We will explore how girls’ diverse experiences enable them to inhabit, rework, and resist binary notions of girlhood at the intersection of race, class, sexuality, and disability. This course will have a large focus on girls’ media and girls’ culture.

163:270 Childhood and Disabilities (3 credits)
This course draws from ongoing dialogues and debates in the interdisciplinary fields of disability studies and childhood studies in order to better understand how disabled children and disabled childhood(s) are discussed, researched, and understood.  Students in this course will be introduced to medical and social models of disability, while exploring how childhood can be viewed as a historical, cultural, and social construction.  The course will examine the way that children’s disabilities intersect with other categories of identity such as gender, sexuality, race and class.  It will also consider children’s disabilities across cross-cultural and global contexts.

163:275 Children and War (3 credits)
This course examines war, armed conflict and children from a global, multidisciplinary perspective.  Students will be challenged to analyze critically the variety and often contradictory ways in which children have been implicated in, participated in, and impacted by war/armed conflict.  Historical, cultural, literary, artistic, psychological, sociological, and economic approaches will be brought to bear upon pressing, recurrent problems, such as: the representation of the child as agent or victim; the diversity of children’s experiences, participation, and understandings; and the question of rights and justice with regard to international, national, and local contexts.

163:280 Childhood and Play: Theories and Practices (3 credits)
This course examines the conceptual, social, cultural and historical contours of children’s play as approached by scholars in various fields, including psychology, disabilities studies, anthropology and sociology.  It will critically examine the diverse ways of conceptualizing the nature, scope and impact of children’s play on pedagogy and development.  Course materials invite students to apply theories of play to areas of concern such as economic and educational disparities, emotional or physical challenges and the complicated impacts of digital media technologies in both local and global contexts.

50:163:285 Childhood and Violence (3 credits)
What different kinds of violence exist and why? How does violence affect children, and how do we make sense of and respond to situations where children are victims and perpetrators of violence? How do children themselves make sense of and respond to the presence of violence in their lives? This course will consider these and related questions from the perspective of childhood studies and medical anthropology. We will read about and discuss research on a range of  topics, such as (post)colonial violence; race, gender, and violence; symbolic and psychological violence; child abuse and abandonment; and medical and scientific violence.

50:163:290 Trans Childhoods (3 credits)
This course explores transgender childhoods as they intersect with social movements, politics, public systems, media and representation, and identities in contemporary and historical contexts. Through a multidisciplinary lens, students will examine trans childhoods in the past to analyze how contemporary categories of age, gender, and sexuality are historically and socially constructed, and will think critically about trans children’s futures. Coursework will encourage discussion that is particularly attentive to the ways that race, class, citizenship, and ability are woven into and constitutive of gender and sexuality.

163:320 History of Youth (3 credits)
This course explores Americans’ changing ideas about who young people were and what constituted a good childhood. The turn of the twentieth century witnessed an unparalleled enthusiasm for the future of young people. From concerns for newly emancipated young slaves and Civil War orphans, to the heady dreams (and anxieties) unleashed by young people in The Age of Aquarius, the course will track the history of youth in the twentieth century, asking how changing definitions of children—from “youth” to “adolescents” to “teenagers”—were influenced by social, political and cultural change in twentieth century America.

163:325 Youth in a New Nation (three credits)
This course examines the lives of American young people from colonial times to the Civil War.  Course readings will include information about the participation of children and youth in such important historical events as the Salem Witch Trials, slavery, and civil war.   The course will grapple with important questions such as what does “childhood” mean when young people are engaged in or affected by “adult” pursuits and occurrences?

50:163:330 Youth Development and Health (3 credits)
This course examines fundamentals of youth development as it relates to the health and well-being of adolescents. Students will study the biological and psychological developmental processes that occur during adolescence, analyze major health issues affecting adolescents, and recommend effective interventions to improve adolescent health. The course highlights research, theory, and practice applied in communities. Students will learn to assess a given youth development program in terms of its potential to promote positive health outcomes in adolescents and have opportunities to apply the knowledge they learn from the class into practice through community-based research.

50:163:340 Youth Activism and Art (3 credits)
This course explores the relationship between youth art (broadly defined) and diverse forms of activism surrounding issues such as child labor, disability rights, health inequities, climate change, racial injustice, poverty, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and in other social realms. Students will read documents and examine documentaries about national and transnational youth movements, analyzing the roles that various forms of artistic expression play in different activist settings. In addition to coursework, students will be encouraged to collaborate with local organizations to plan youth art workshops and other related initiatives.

163:350 Kids’ Media Cultures (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.

163:351 Toy Design (3 credits)
In this class, students will study the process of contemporary toy production from initial idea through design, manufacture, marketing and promotion. We will examine historical and contemporary examples and consider children’s playthings from perspectives such as toys as intellectual property, developmental objects, and objects with the capacity to reflect, sustain, and revise cultural values. In particular, the course will consider the relationships toys bear to race, gender, class, and ability, and use digital and analog tools to imagine toys as agents of social change. For the final project, students will work in groups to design and prototype an original toy idea.

163:352 Developing Minds and Bodies (3 credits)
This course examines the history of adults’ effort to sculpt and standardize children’s development. Children are, by definition, in a constant state of becoming. Year after year, they get bigger, smarter and more mature, while adults seem obsessed with observing, measuring, and even controlling their growth. Should little boys be given hormones just because they might grow up to be short? Can three-year-olds legitimately be diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders? We will ask questions about young sporting bodies (can children truly choose to devote themselves to highly competitive physical training in kindergarten?) and developing sexual bodies (should sexuality be part of elementary school curricula?). Students should be prepared to engage in thoughtful analysis of these questions, without the expectation of clear answers.

163:360 Children’s Books and Illustration (3 credits)
This course surveys poetry, prose, drama, and illustrated books for children, primarily from the Anglo-American tradition, over the three-hundred year history of its development.  The study of children’s literature constitutes a valuable field of critical inquiry important to understanding literary history, the cultural construction of childhood, the history of childhood, and the development of children’s culture and visual literacy. The course will consider techniques and style in writing and illustrating books for young audiences.

163:361 Young Adult Literature (3 credits)
This course surveys classic and contemporary examples of adolescent literature from prose, graphic novels, film and television.  The goal will be to read widely in the literature and popular culture that represents the adolescent experience particularly, but not exclusively, from the American perspective.  One focus of the course will be to reflect the diversity of experiences in the adolescent population according to race, gender, ethnicity, etc.

163:362 Children’s Literacies (3 credits)
This course considers the ways in which “literacy” has expanded beyond learning to read and write. The literate child must negotiate not only traditional textual and visual formats such as picture books, animated television programs and novels, but also websites, hand held devices, and film.   Students will learn both the historical contextualization of children’s literacy and be introduced to multi-modal and transmedia texts available to–and at times created by–children and young adults, including websites, iPhone Apps, fan fiction, graphic novels and vooks in order to gain a deep understanding of the multiple literacies of childhood.

163:370 Childhood and Migration (3 credits)
This course considers the unprecedented movement of children around the world in the 21st century. The movement of children around the globe may result in losses of family, friends, culture and language and give rise to considerable challenges of adaptation and integration. Students will have the opportunity to examine the migration of children by drawing on international case studies from Europe, North and South America, Southern Africa and the Middle East. The course will include critical examination of theories of migration and their applicability to children and issues of integration into host societies.

163:371 Global Childhoods (3 credits)
This course considers the 20th and 21st centuries as eras of globalization in which traditional social and familial structures are breaking down. Within this context children’s experiences are infused by influences from across the globe. In this course we will examine the extent to which children are impacted on by global factors including cultural and religious diversity and hybridity, transnational families and interethnic relationships. Salient issues will include children’s identity in a globalized world, the maintenance or erosion of tradition, the impact of travel and the impact of globalization on children’s cultural worlds. The course will draw on international examples of globalization and the interrelationships between local and global factors in children’s worlds.

163:372 Ethnographies of Childhood (3 credits)
This course uses ethnographic research to explore the contemporary lives of children in different parts of the world, including the United States. It focuses on particular themes – such as children’s socialization, play, labor, schooling, adoption, and sponsorship – as well as particular populations of children, including child migrants, street children, and child soldiers. This course foregrounds ethnography as an important research method for understanding children’s lives as both culturally specific and yet increasingly interconnected to the working of the state and global capital. It allows students to gain a deeper sense of how exclusionary practices around race, class, gender, sexuality and caste affect children’s lives in different countries of the world.

163:380 Special Topics in Childhood Studies 
(3 credits)
This course provides an in-depth examination of a topic or theme related to the study of children and childhood.  Topics will rotate.

163:381 Special Topics in Childhood Studies (3 credits)
This course provides an in-depth examination of a topic or theme related to the study of children and childhood.  Topics will rotate.

163:382 Urban Education (3 credits)
This course explores the ways in which urban schools are created as social, cultural, economic and political institutions.  The relationship between schools and their urban environments will be explored, as well as how schools contest or perpetuate inequalities along racial, social class, ethnic and gender lines.  The course will also consider contemporary school reform movements and their contexts.

163:383 Youth Identities and Urban Ecology (3 credits)
This course considers how urban ecologies shape the identities of youth coming of age in cities within the US and across the world and investigates the multiple roles of youth, paying particular attention to how identities are informed by structure of race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.  The contexts in which youth identities are examined include neighborhood, school, work, family and peer groups.

163:384 Gender and Education (3 credits)
This course explores the relationship between gender and education, focusing primarily on the context of K-12 schooling.  Through multi-disciplinary social science studies, films, and biographical narratives, students consider the ways in which gender is socially constructed within schools.  We explore the construction and contestation of gendered identities through multiple mechanisms including within-school social interactions, practices, policies, and structures, as well as through broader socio-cultural norms.  How do the media, family life, and government shape patterns of gender within schools?  Also, the course will explore briefly trends in gender and higher education as well as international trends in girls’ education.

163:385 Special Topcis in Childhood Studies:  Childhood and the Body (3 credits)
Should children play football? Should “short” children be given growth hormones? Why is the debate about childhood vaccines so contentious?  Is panic over children’s consumption of fast food warranted? What is at stake when schools police children’s hairstyles? Children’s bodies are at the core of many contemporary and historical debates. In this course, we will examine the imperatives to regulate, control and fight over children’s bodies and the ways in which children negotiate these mechanisms of power.  We will explore how social and symbolic relationships have been both shaped by and inscribed on the body, and the way children and youth inhabit and understand their bodies.  Topics covered may include (but are not limited to): childhood obesity, youth and sports, histories of medical experimentation on children, children’s sexualities, and body literacy.

163:386 Special Topics in Childhood Studies:  Health Disparities in Children (3 credits)
Accumulating scientific evidence indicates that many health disparities have their origins in childhood and adolescence. This seminar utilizes a socio-ecological approach to studying the origins, distributions, and development of child and adolescent health and healthcare disparities. Students will examine biological, environmental, psychosocial, cultural, political and other determinants of child and adolescent health, which will enable them to conceptualize health promotion programs and policies to reduce and eliminate related disparities. Conditions in which health and healthcare disparities are particularly evident among children and adolescents will also be discussed, including obesity and depression. Disparities will be
discussed relative to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and sexual orientation.

163:387 Special Topics in Childhood Studies (3 credits)
This course provides an in-depth examination of a topic or theme related to the study of children and childhood.  Topics will rotate.

163:388 Children’s Geographies (3 credits)
This course introduces students to the field of children’s geographies, with a focus on dynamics of space, place and identity in childhood studies. Engaging with multiple disciplinary perspectives, the course will challenge students to look critically at taken-for-granted spaces of children’s lives, such as the home, classroom, playground, and city. We will examine a range of institutions (e.g., family, schooling), practices (e.g., play, consumption), and discourses (e.g., nature, citizenship) through which the places and spaces of childhood are imagined, regulated, and experienced. A range of case studies will be used to situate the geographies of American childhoods in a broader global perspective. Particular attention will be paid to the way children actively create and navigate space in their everyday lives, as well as how children’s geographies are shaped by social structures, such as gender, race, and class.

163:400 Directed Readings (3 credits)
This independent study course focuses on readings connected to a research project. Topics are selected to reflect research projects currently underway on the campus. **This course is by permission only and should only be undertaken by advanced students who have an established relationship with a faculty member who is willing to supervise the course.

163:460 Understanding Childhood through Stats (3 credits)
This course provides students with the skills necessary to understand, critique, and produce quantitative information concerning children. Childhood is frequently characterized in terms of numbers, charts, correlations, and other means that rely upon the manipulation of quantitative information.  Students will learn the strengths and limitations of different methods used to acquire quantitative information about children and childhood, and will also use statistical programs to analyze data and to present results of analyses in readily interpretable displays.  An introductory statistics class is a recommended prerequisite.

163:480 Senior Seminar in Childhood Studies (3 credits)
This course serves as the capstone course for the Childhood Studies major and is open to graduating seniors (in their last semester of coursework) only.  Students apply the skills acquired through the interdisciplinary study of children and childhoods to the analysis of a topic selected by the instructor. A major paper is required.

163:481 Child Wellbeing (4 credits)
This advanced course will teach students to examine the varied dimensions of child wellbeing, identify impediments to child wellbeing, and suggest solutions to social problems related to child wellbeing. This course will employ an engaged learning approach in which students work directly with children to brainstorm ways to enhance child wellbeing in Camden. As such, students enrolled in this course should be prepared to allocate time outside of class to work with children and youth directly. The course will include discussion, guest lectures, film screenings and hands-on service learning.

163:491 Service Learning in Childhood Studies 2 (3 credits)
This advanced course enables students to work directly with organizations and institutions that assist Camden’s children and youth.  The course consists of both classroom time and a service component in which students, under the supervision of their instructor, will volunteer within the Camden community. Although the focus of each service learning course will be children and childhood, the specific topic and service assignment of the course will rotate.

163:495 Advanced Research (3 credits)
This course enables students to conduct original research about children under the direction of a faculty member. This course can be repeated for credit.  This course is by permission only.  Students interested in enrolling in Advanced Research must conceive of a project and approach a faculty member as a potential supervisor early in the semester prior to the one in which the research would be undertaken.  Some projects may require IRB review.