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Social Science BA
Advocacy and Leadership Track, Social Science BA

Why Advocacy and Political Leadership?

The Advocacy and Political Leadership Track is an ideal course of study for students interested in:

  • Social Justice: Building a more equitable world.
  • Building Community Power: Working in communities to bring people together to solve problems that impact their lives.
  • Developing Leadership Capacity: Cultivating the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for effective and equitable leadership within our communities.

What will I do in the major?

Advocacy and Leadership is a track within the Social Science Major. Students in the Advocacy and Leadership Track will take courses focusing on:

  • Community Organizing
  • Advocacy and Lobbying
  • Community Development and Leadership

Upper-division students in the Advocacy and Political Leadership Track conduct their own research to complete their degrees.

What can I do with the degree?

The Advocacy and Political Leadership Track prepares undergraduates for application to the Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program at Metropolitan State University. The Advocacy and Political Leadership Track can also be the first step towards careers in:

  • Nonprofit and Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Advocacy Organizations
  • Community Organizations
  • Union Organizing and Labor Organizations

Are you interested in a Social Science degree? Sign up to learn more at our information session on October 12 at 5 p.m.

Student outcomes

The learning outcomes for this major provide the knowledge, skills, and abilities to enter the 21st-century workplace to:

  • know and understand the essential concepts of social science;
  • comprehend the historical foundations, theoretical paradigms, and research methods of social science;
  • develop higher order thinking skills by analyzing and interpreting social science literature;
  • write analytically in a style that is informed, well-reasoned, and literate;
  • recognize and understand differences of gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, religion, and social class;
  • understand and utilize a global perspective
  • develop civic skills by participating in community-based learning and internships
  • become advocates and leaders in their communities, our nation, and the globe.

Related minors

Metro State connects you to your future. Receive information from Admissions about taking your first step toward a degree!

Already admitted? Find your advisor.

Course requirements

Summary (40 credits)

At least half of the credits required for the major must be completed at Metropolitan State University. Students must earn a grade of C- or above in all major courses. Student should select lower division electives and upper division electives in consultation with an advisor. Transfer courses may be applicable to major requirements. Students should consult with their advisor as soon as they begin the program to see which credits may transfer. The university's degree audit will specify transfer courses that are directly equivalent to major requirements. Other transfer courses must be approved by a faculty advisor in the department.

Lower Division Electives (up to 9 credits)

Students may select advocacy and leadership-related courses in anthropology, geography, political science, sociology, and social science. Students may not apply more than 6 credits in any one discipline. Please see an advisor for more information.

Survey courses (8 credits)

Students must take two survey courses:

POL 311 and SOC 311 are cross-listed sections of the same course. POL 343 and SOC 343 are also cross-listed sections of the same course. For cross-listed courses, students may choose one section, but not both.

POL 311 Community Organizing and Social Action

4 credits

This course examines the theories, current trends and practical dimensions of how people with common goals and grievances organize themselves to effect change. Topics include the nature of community organizing, organizing models from a variety of cultural and historic traditions, practical approaches to identifying issues, bringing constituencies together and nurturing grass roots leadership, and choosing and implementing effective strategies and tactics. Case studies include organizing projects in communities of race and ethnicity, social class and gender.

Full course description for Community Organizing and Social Action

POL 312 Advocacy for Policy Change

4 credits

Democratic governments are assumed to be more legitimate than and preferable to other forms of government due to their openness and responsiveness to citizen influence. Yet many citizens and residents in the United States express feelings of powerlessness when it comes to influencing legislators and engaging in politics. In this course, students will learn about the state legislative process in Minnesota and develop a wide range of democratic skills necessary for becoming citizen advocates and influencing elected officials. Over the course of the semester, students will identify an issue area they want to work in; choose legislation related to that issue area to advocate for; identify and build relationships with community organizations working in the issue area; work in coalition with at least one community organization; develop a range of political communication materials for influencing legislators; and meet with state legislators to advocate for their preferred policies. The…

Full course description for Advocacy for Policy Change

POL 343 Perspectives on Community Development

4 credits

This class will examine theories and models of community development, and introduce students to the realities of community development work. The course explores the history of the community development field from its origins in the late 19th-century urbanization through present innovations fueled by grassroots, foundations and public policy initiatives. The lens of movement and industry approaches will be a key analytical tool. Three traditions in the field community building, community organizing, and community development will be critically examined and compared, including exploring the dynamic relationship between these three traditions. Special attention will be given to community development challenges facing traditionally disenfranchised communities, including factors of race, class and gender. The class will emphasize both a theoretical understanding of community dynamics, ad an introduction to practical skills used by people working in the community development field.

Full course description for Perspectives on Community Development

SOC 311 Community Organizing and Social Action

4 credits

This course examines the theories, current trends and practical dimensions of how people organize to effect change. Topics include the nature of community organizing, cultural and historical models, issue identification, leadership development, approaches to social power, campaign planning and implementation, and the relationship of community organizing to other forms of social action. The class is participatory and includes intense interpersonal and reflective exercises designed to increase students organizing skills. Students will supplement classroom learning with a case study of a Metro area community organization.

Full course description for Community Organizing and Social Action

SOC 343 Perspectives on Community Development

4 credits

This class will examine theories and models of community development, and introduce students to the realities of community development work. The course explores the history of the community development field from its origins in the late 19th-century urbanization through present innovations fueled by grassroots, foundations and public policy initiatives. The lens of movement and industry approaches will be a key analytical tool. Three traditions in the field community building, community organizing, and community development will be critically examined and compared, including exploring the dynamic relationship between these three traditions. Special attention will be given to community development challenges facing traditionally disenfranchised communities, including factors of race, class and gender. The class will emphasize both a theoretical understanding of community dynamics, ad an introduction to practical skills used by people working in the community development field.

Full course description for Perspectives on Community Development

Core Courses (17 credits)

All social science majors must complete all four core courses (SSCI 300, SSCI 311, SSCI 501, and SSCI 451/452). Students should take core courses after earning the following number of credits: SSCI 300 (60 credits), SSCI 311 (75), SSCI 501 (90), SSCI 451/452 (105). Sequencing: SSCI 300, SSCI 311, SSCI 501 and SSCI 451 or SSCI 452, taken in four separate semesters. SSCI 300 and SSCI 311 may be taken concurrently if a student intends to graduate in three semesters (not including summer) and with departmental approval.

FIRST:

SSCI 300 Seeing Like a Social Scientist

4 credits

Most of us are only dimly aware of how politics, culture, and society influence, and often coerce, our daily lives. The calling of a social scientist is to help us make these invisible social structures visible. In this course, students develop the skills and tools to discover, analyze, and interpret these obscure social processes. Ideally, this knowledge will have a liberating effect on their individual lives. Students will also perceive how their civic and ethical participation can change politics, culture, and society, as well as themselves.

Full course description for Seeing Like a Social Scientist

THEN:

SSCI 311 Research Methods in Social Science

4 credits

This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts of social science research. Students learn and implement a variety of research methods, and critically reflect on the relationship of these methods to philosophical traditions within social science. The courses examines two approaches to social science research, quantitative and qualitative, and the unique contribution of each approach for understanding social life. Experiential activities enhance classroom learning.

Full course description for Research Methods in Social Science

THEN:

SSCI 501 Great Ideas: Classics of Social Science

4 credits

The social sciences have been shaping views of the human condition for more than 150 years. This seminar explores those ideas that continue to engage and perplex thoughtful observers of social life. Students become acquainted with writing by major thinkers like Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, Ruth Benedict, Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt. The course addresses the social and historical roots of the great ideas as well as the moral aspirations and creative impulses of these social scientists.

Full course description for Great Ideas: Classics of Social Science

THEN:

SSCI 451 Empirical Research Capstone

5 credits

Social scientists investigate the patterns of human interactions and then seek to interpret, explain and communicate human behavior. This seminar is designed to provide a final, integrating experience for students with a social science major. Seminar participants complete a senior project that demonstrates an ability to design a study, collect new or existing data, analyze those findings and communicate the results.

Full course description for Empirical Research Capstone

OR:

SSCI 452 Conceptual Research Capstone

5 credits

The social sciences have been shaping our understanding of the human condition for 175 years. Students will be comparing and evaluating ideas that continue to engage and perplex thoughtful public intellectuals. The capstone project involves researching an idea that remains disputable. The goal of a student's thesis is an independent interpretation of a specific concept.

Full course description for Conceptual Research Capstone

Upper division electives (to reach 40 credits)

Students may select any of the following 300-level electives.

POL 313 Democracy, Politics, and Punishment

4 credits

This course explores the way in which our policing and punishment policies affect democratic decision-making and vice-versa. The central question considered is this: How do our policing and imprisonment practices affect democratic legitimacy in the United States? To answer this question, students will examine theories of participatory democracy that link widespread political participation to democratic legitimacy. Students will then consider the interconnections between several important public institutions such as the police, prisons, schools, voting, elections, and the interest group system. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

Full course description for Democracy, Politics, and Punishment

POL 319 Politics, Markets and Society

4 credits

This course explores the contrasts and inter-relationships between three approaches to organizing our public life: democratic politics, economic markets, and the multiple associations that make up civil society. Students will investigate the basic characteristics and underlying principles of each approach and apply what they learn to an analysis of contemporary public issues. Students will evaluate the basic strengths and limits of each approach to civic engagement and public problem solving, and reflect on the ethical dimensions of their roles as citizens, consumers and members of civil society.

Full course description for Politics, Markets and Society

POL 342 Lobbying: A Citizen's Guide to the Legislative Process

4 credits

This course, for the seasoned lobbyist as well as the newcomer, is designed to stimulate people to effectively assert power in the political arena. The structure and dynamics of Minnesota government and politics are examined. Students learn how to start with an idea and build a strategy to make that idea into law using the Minnesota Capitol as a laboratory.

Full course description for Lobbying: A Citizen's Guide to the Legislative Process

POL 381 Community Leadership: Principles and Approaches

4 credits

What is leadership? What skills and qualities make a good leader? What is the relationship between leadership, civic participation and the common good? Open to both experienced leaders and those who are just starting out, this course will explore a variety of leadership principles and approaches as well as the relationship between civic engagement and social justice. Students will investigate a variety of community participation strategies including: volunteer service, citizen organizing, electoral politics, public and non-profit boards and commissions, and community development. On-line and community resources and assignments will supplement class-room based learning. Students will be able to apply previous community experience to completion of course requirements.

Full course description for Community Leadership: Principles and Approaches

SOC 309 Homelessness: Critical Issues for Policy and Practice

4 credits

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.

Full course description for Homelessness: Critical Issues for Policy and Practice

SOC 381 Community Leadership: Principles and Approaches

4 credits

What is leadership? What skills and qualities make a good leader? What is the relationship between leadership, civic participation and the common good? Open to both experienced leaders and those who are just starting out, this course will explore a variety of leadership principles and approaches as well as the relationship between civic engagement and social justice. Students will investigate a variety of community participation strategies including: volunteer service, citizen organizing, electoral politics, public and non-profit boards and commissions, and community development. On-line and community resources and assignments will supplement class-room based learning. Students will be able to apply previous community experience to completion of course requirements.

Full course description for Community Leadership: Principles and Approaches

SOC 319 Politics, Markets and Society

4 credits

This course explores the contrasts and inter-relationships between three approaches to organizing our public life: democratic politics, economic markets, and the multiple associations that make up civil society. Students will investigate the basic characteristics and underlying principles of each approach and apply what they learn to an analysis of contemporary public issues. Students will evaluate the basic strengths and limits of each approach to civic engagement and public problem solving, and reflect on the ethical dimensions of their roles as citizens, consumers and members of civil society.

Full course description for Politics, Markets and Society

POL 319 and SOC 319 are cross-listed sections of the same course. POL 381 and SOC 381 are also cross-listed sections of the same course. For cross-listed courses, students may choose one section, but not both.