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SOC 309 Homelessness: Critical Issues for Policy and Practice

This course explores the experiences of homelessness and the development of public policies. The problems of homelessness are viewed from sociological and housing perspectives, as well as from an ethnographic experience. The course emphasizes observing the needs of people experiencing homelessness, and the dynamics of government and institutions serving homeless people. Particular attention is devoted to poverty, government housing strategies, race, gender, and age. Service learning is an integral part of this course. Students are expected to learn outside the classroom from persons currently and formerly experiencing homelessness and private and public institutions serving them.


Learning outcomes


  • Ability to apply knowledge to the social problems confronting a diverse homeless population at an upper division college level.
  • Develops the higher order thinking skills necessary to analyze, interpret, and evaluate public policies and practices as they impact homelessness.
  • Knows and understands the issues, history and concepts of homelessness at an upper division college level.
  • Understands approaches to meeting basic needs and recognizes policies required to reduce homelessness.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Employ the methods and data that historians and social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition.
  • Examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods and cultures.
  • Use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
  • Develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.

Goal 9: Ethical and Civic Responsibility

  • Examine, articulate, and apply their own ethical views.
  • Understand and apply core concepts (e.g. politics, rights and obligations, justice, liberty) to specific issues.
  • Analyze and reflect on the ethical dimensions of legal, social, and scientific issues.
  • Recognize the diversity of political motivations and interests of others.
  • Identify ways to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.